Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Soul Food

I believe there is no small irony in the name of our new favorite coffee shop in our new neighborhood - SoulFood.  Especially as it relates to a new community we have found in our busy lives which allows the people who enter this space to be their best, authentic selves.  A 'come as you are' joint which exudes the calming scent of incense, home, acceptance and love.

In my life currently, I am working on being a truer, more authentic self.  I decided I was not able to complete this work on my own and have sought the guidance of someone willing to help and guide me through this journey.  A part of this journey has been searching out communities and people who support authenticity and  seek truth as well.  SoulFood Books is one of these places and I/we have been blessed to find several other spots, such as Wilderness Awareness School (WAS), Oxbow Farm and some incredible friends who are totally cool with me being my wacky, weird self.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Farmer, Farm, Farming, Food: Trends in book references

I have asked several friends and family members to help me with writing some guest blog posts to offer different perspectives and add voices to the dialogue I hope to create through this blog.

Recently, my husband, Nicholas (check out his blog here!), has taken a significant interest in the data you can pull from the work I am interested in.  He is very intrigued by how the data shows our disconnect from the land, our food and those amazing people who help put said food on our plates - farmers!  While I have been blogging away on my research and activism, Nick has been pulling stats and reveling in all of the data you can find related to food and farming.

I am posting one of his recent search results which shows a disturbing lack of interest in where our food comes from, how it is grown and who grows it.


Farmer, Farm, Farming, Food: Trends in book references since 1820

I happened across a TED talk about a tool that Google built that allows you to search a series of words across the ~15 million books that they have scanned. I was interested to see what people have been saying over time regarding the “farmer”, their “farm”, the act of “farming”, and “food”. I was hoping to find some interesting data but what I found was more interesting than I expected.

Here is the graph from the data:

No Small Potatoes

This past quarter I decided to change things up in my classes and look more closely at grassroots movements and resistance outside the United States.  I had never studied Latin America and have found the culture surrounding food in the Americas fascinating.  The work being done in Latin America surrounding fair trade, shade grown, the banning of GE products, co-ops and more is phenomenal.  I feel because more money is spent on food by people in lower socioeconomic groups, these are the people the most aware of food politics and the centrality of food to life.  

I specifically wanted to focus on the recent banning of GE products from Peru in a record setting case placing a moratorium on all GE products for the next ten years.  I wanted to include information on the centrality of the potato to Peruvian culture as well.  While there has not been a GE potato developed at this point, I believe the immense importance of preserving the biodiversity of this central crop to Peruvian culture played into the involvement of Peruvian farmers and peasants in the resistance movement against Monsanto and other GE corporations.

While this tuber may seem humble in many ways, it is of vital importance to cultures, food sources, economies and biodiversity.  It became the nickname for a war, caused a tragic famine and secondary massive migration of Irish immigrants and is an incredibly popular children's toy (  The potato is not humble by any stretch of the imagination!