Saturday, March 28, 2009

Informative Set of Materials about Sustainable Agriculture

I came across this great little list in my weekly e-issue of The Scout Report - a compendium of interesting electronic links and information put together by the great folks at the University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!) - that focuses on sustainable agriculture and food security.

Sustainable-food campaign reaches a critical mass of influence in the United States
http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/03/23/business/food.php

With Food Democracy now, Iowan Dave Murphy Is Challenging Corporate Farming
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/24/AR2009032400754.html

Safeguard Food Supply But Respect Small Farms
http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/mar/23/na-safeguard-food-supply-but-respect-small-farms/

Big Island Video News: Sustainable farming with tilapia
http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/hamakua/2009/20090323talapia.htm


Even city folk can make vegetable gardens flower
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/chi-schmich-25-mar25,0,4687726.column

USDA: Sustainable Agriculture [pdf]
http://www.usda.gov/oce/sustainable/agriculture.htm

University of California: Agriculture and Natural Resources Free Publications [pdf]
http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/FreePublications/

Years ago, some might have heard the words "food advocacy" or "sustainable agriculture" and thought of well meaning groups based in large cities on the West or East Coast. As of late both of these ideas have been gaining currency across the country, and they continue to grow dedicated supporters in states where agribusiness had been a dominant feature of the landscape for many decades. One such supporter is Dave Murphy, an Iowa native who returned back to the heartland after working in Washington, D.C. for years. Murphy's organization, Food Democracy Now, recently circulated a petition calling for more sustainable food policies, along with offering a list of six progressive candidates for secretary of agriculture. It could be argued that the Midwest has lacked an authentic voice as regards to agricultural policy reform, which may be due to the high profiles maintained by well-known celebrity chefs and food pundits who hold sway in the major media markets like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. Murphy has also made some compelling new suggestions about how to recast the struggle to get young people to eat more fruits and vegetables. He, along with others, has suggested that it might be useful to pitch this argument as one that will work as an economic engine for small farmers and rural America overall. As Murphy recently stated in an interview, "If you want to change the ballgame, you have to address the policies that are responsible for the system we have in place." [KMG]

The first link leads to an article from this Wednesday's Washington Post which talks about Murphy's food advocacy work. The second link will take users to a piece from this Sunday's International Herald Tribune which talks about the growing "critical mass" of influential policymakers and organizations calling for a renewed focus on sustainable agriculture. The third link will take users to a timely editorial from the Tampa Tribune that talks about both protecting the nation's food supply, while still supporting small farmers who might not be able to afford new costs associated with more stringent oversight and regulation. On a related note, the fourth link leads to a video feature featuring Richard Ha, who's working on a sustainable aquaculture project with tilapia on the Big Island. The fifth link leads to an astute column by Chicago Tribune writer Mary Schmich on how urban dwellers can grow their own vegetable gardens. Moving on, the sixth link leads to the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture homepage. From here, visitors can learn about their efforts to support such endeavors by reading recent reports and briefs. Finally, the last link leads to the free publications section of the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources division. There's a great deal to check out here, including helpful gardening publications, suggestions for agritourism, and nutritional fact sheets. [KMG]

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