Monday, August 29, 2011

Food and Freedom Rides

As summer is drawing to a close, the journey toward food justice continues. This month, 13 riders, who call themselves the Food and Freedom Riders, traveled 8 states and 2000 miles from the South to the Midwest to spread the word about our nation's broken food system. Their objectives: to highlight local food activism, to educate youth on federal food policy, and to carry the message to political decision-makers that real food is attainable.

Food and Freedom Rides and its sponsoring organization, Live Real, commemorate the 1961 anti-segregation Freedom Rides that originated in Birmingham, Alabama. Much as the Civil Rights Era Freedom Rides sought to unmask and halt racial injustices all across America, this noble voyage hopes to "expose injustice in the food system, and reveal real solutions in both urban and rural communities." The first Food and Freedom Ride took place from August 7 - 18 and brought the riders from the deep south to Detroit, Michigan, and the second ride venturing through California is happening from August 26 - September 2. Check out the Food and Freedom Riders' adventures here:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Little Hill Berry Farm

Last spring, Carleton students volunteered at a local blueberry farm.  The farm is run by two local Northfield residents and is just getting started.  We helped unload thousands of blueberry bushes and helped plant them at a planting party.  It was a great way to escape the Carleton bubble and meet Northfield residents.  We had a great time and hope to help again this year!
Check out the blueberry farm at
Lauren holding blueberry plants!:

Eat the Lawn

Eat the Lawn is a student run vegetable and flower garden on Carleton's quad.  Started as an art independent study, students plan, plant, maintain the garden each season.  The food and flowers are for everyone and anyone! Stop on your way to calculus class to grab a cherry tomato or pick some flowers to put in your friend's mailbox on Friday!


Real Food Challenge

The past few years, Food Truth has begun working with the Real Food Challenge, an awesome organization that works with college students to get "real food" in their dining halls.  
Real Food Challenge defines "real food" as  food which truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth.  It is a food system--from seed to plate--that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental sustainability.
We have participated in some of their workshops and other events, have used their calculator to figure out how much real food is in our dining halls and how to get more, and plan on participating in National Food Day on October 24th, an event they are helping run. This past February, some Food Truth students went to the Real Food Challenge Midwest Summit at Northwestern University. We met food activists from schools all over the Midwest and went to some inspiring workshops and field trips.
Check it out at!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Turtle Farm

This summer I volunteered a couple days a week at a farm near my home in Des Moines, Iowa called Turtle Farm. Check out their website here:

Turtle Farm is an organic CSA (community supported agriculture) in Granger, IA. Angela Tedesco is the owner, and Ben, the farm manager, runs things with the help of three full-time employees (Lucy, Darrin, and Josh), and numerous volunteers. The farm grows many different types of vegetables: eggplant, pole beans, snap peas, beets, squash, tomatoes, strawberries, asparagus, cucumbers, okra, chard, lettuce, and peppers, just to name a few. Ben likes to grow many unique varieties that you can't find in grocery stores. I didn't know there were white eggplants and brown peppers called sweet chocolates! One of my favorite parts of this summer was learning about all of the different vegetables (and sampling them, of course).

I've gotten to help out with many different tasks during my time at Turtle Farm. I had very limited farming experience before this summer, so I learned a lot. I helped harvest, weed, move fences, weave plants up trellises, lay down weed fabric, and set up irrigation. This experience helped me appreciate how much work farming really is. I was usually there for 3-4 hours, but the farm crew puts in 8 hour days. As hard as the work is, it is extremely fulfilling. I like feeling that my physical effort is accomplishing a worthwhile task, because what could be better than feeding people? It's also a great way to spend time outdoors and see all kinds of cool critters (I'm an insect fanatic). Yesterday we found a bullsnake that's endangered in Iowa! All in all it's been extremely rewarding, and I'm grateful to everyone at the farm for giving me this experience. I'm looking forward to future agricultural adventures.

by Megan Brant '13

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"UW study finds large dairy farms produce higher quality milk more often than small operations"

Food Truther Courtney Halbach found this article in her local newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. The study used two measurements of milk quality: bacteria count and somatic cell count, which measures infection in cows. As the title suggests, with these measurements, large industrial farms appeared to have higher quality milk than small, family operations. Critics of the study point out that these are only two narrow measurements of milk quality, and that issues with industrial farms go beyond milk quality to issues such as water pollution.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wal-Mart going local?

There was an interesting article in my local paper (The Des Moines Register) recently about Wal-Mart's plan to buy more local produce. I couldn't find a link to that article, but I found a similar one published in the NY Times in October 2010. Wal-Mart's shift to local could have huge positive implications, since Wal-Mart is the largest grocer in the nation. But is the produce truly "local", or is it only a marketing ploy? Some critics are also concerned that buying produce--even local produce--from a large, industrial corporation does not have all of the benefits of purchasing directly from a farmer through a CSA or farmer's market. Check out the article here:

Rural Enterprise Center

This past spring, Food Truth began speaking with a group in the Northfield area called Rural Enterprise Center (REC). REC helps low-income, rural Latino families start up natural, free-range poultry farms that are ecologically and economically sustainable. Learn more from their website: