Saturday, October 25, 2008

Terra Madre 2008 Day 3

Today was the first full day of conference sessions, and my last day at Terra Madre. I am now totally immersed in this world of food, just in time to leave. :(

The impromptu and formal markets are amazing. The first photo shows the informal market in foreground, with the yellow/red booths of formal market in rear. The second photos shows a formal booth of Gorganu citrus products from the Foggio region of Italy. The third photo shows some traditional, yummy peppers from the Turin/Peidmont region.

I have met producers from Brazil, Bangladesh, Basque region of Spain, Portugal, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Kenya, Poland, South Africa, Italy, and on and on. The food booths are like windows in to our past, with traditional food being offered with the stories of their production and history. I tried some traditional Uzbekistan bread. While it may have not been the best tasting bread, the fact that it was made with the same ingredients in the same recipe that has been used for centuries connected my palate directly with history. That bread is more memorable than any modern loaf that includes modern ingredients like high fructose corn syrup.

The first conference session I attended was entitled "Producing Quality with Dignity"; a comparison of participative approaches to improving small scale agriculture. A gentleman from Brazil enlightened me about Participative Certification: the notion that you get producers and consumers to commit to a set of certifiable criteria that enrich the local food system. A very intriguing extension of Carlo Petrini's notion that consumers are co-producers. A woman from Israel discussed an innovative direct marketing method between Israelis and Palestinians that was basically a CSA project across this divided land. A woman from the Italian trade bureau ICEE spoke about supporting trade networks around the world, supply chain certification (like Food Alliance certifying distributors), and a clarifying notion about how to move forward in the face of uncertainty; that the confusion of which road to take can be clarified through collaborative partnerships, strategic alliances, and/or strategic networks. In other words, when facing uncertainty of what to do next, work with others and move forward together from a stronger, collaborative position. This can reduce risk since one group is not moving forward alone. Reminds me of the Good Food Coalition we have emerging in WA state.

The second session I attended was to discuss the "Manifesto on Climate Change and the Future of Food Security". This Manifesto presents a series of actions we can take to ensure that food security is considered during the drafting of climate change intitiatives. Vandana Shiva co-authored the manifesto and emphasized that the time is right to change the paradigm that underlies our economic considerations, and urged everyone to sign on to support the manifesto at The International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture. The hope is to present support for the manifesto at the next meeting of the G8, and to place food security on the table for the 2010 meetings in Copenhagen that will lay out the framework for the followup to the Kyoto protocol. Please read the manifesto and consider pledging your and/or your organization's support.

I started in to a third presentation but quickly realized that the best thing I could learn was in the markets outside the conference spaces. Wandering the world in one place has become a mesmerizing experience.

Alas, it is time for ma familia to move on. Cascade Harvest, grazie for the opportunity to share some of my ramblings. Hopefully you have gotten a sense of Terra Madre, and how our little corner of the world is connected to a global effort to secure farms and traditional foods for all.



Terra Madre 2008 Day 2

So I was wrong about the number of delegates at Terra Madre. There are around 7,000 producers, chefs, and educators present. And the US has quite a presence, with around 800 delegates, the largest group outside the host country, Italy. Washington state has 19 delegates here!

I got my facts checked by none other than Linda Neunzig, of Snohomish county's Ninety Farms, shown in the attached photo with Mina Williams and Anza Meunchow, aslo from WA state. What a trip, to travel halfway around the world and find your neighbors.

The day began with ma familia and I diving, more like squeezing, our way through the parallel event, Salone Del Gusto. The Salone is the largest food trade show I have ever seen, both by number of booths and number of spectators. Provinces from around Italy proudly displayed their regions' bounty. You could spend all day sampling Italian wine, cheese, meat, and oils.

But our goal was the 'addendum' show in the back, the Slow Food pavilion. This attached trade show was smaller and therefore more manageable to ingest and explore. It was also what we traveled halfway around the world to see, with booths from different countries showing their heritage foods. On one side of the hall were the formal booths (photo of Madagascar booth with Puget Sound Fresh bag!) that the public could explore. On the other side of the hall was the delegate space which has become an informal marketplace of world food and crafts. I have included a photo of one of those booths, from Thailand. Notice the "No GMO" sign on the wall.

The day's conference sessions were comprised of meetings of each country's delegation. The US delegates (large group photo) heard impassioned speakers discuss the reasons why we do these things we do: support heritage foods and their producers. Of note, the new president of Slow Food USA, Josh Viertel, emphasized the need for Slow Food to more actively support social justice issues and organizations. Carlo Petrini stopped by and welcomed our county to his home. He warmed this heart by saying "Because of you (US delegates) my love for your country only grows". This was great to hear after the boo I heard yesterday.

Onward! Today are separate meetings and more wading through the world's food market. Ciao!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Terra Madre 2008 Day 1

Buongiorno from Terra Madre 2008.

Tim Crosby here, Farm and Food Systems Director for Growing Washington, and one of the U.S. delegates in attendance. Mary asked me to send some notes from Turin, a task I am only happy to complete. I won't be here for the whole conference but will share what I can until I leave.

Terra Madre, the world Slow Food conference, opened today at the 2006 winter Olympic hockey rink. I would guess around 3,500 delegates were in attendance to hear the opening session speakers.

The 3 hour convening assembly was awash in colors and nationalities. A parade of flags opened the session, with over 140 flags representing the participating nations. I had my own little international corner in the back of the stadium with a Brazilian farmer to my left and a South African farmer on my right. Molto bueno (very good)!

There are quite a few Americans present, which I hope will lead to continuing dialog about what works best in the U.S. Unfortunately, but not surprising: when the U.S. flag was announced there was a lot of cheering and at least one boo. I was expecting a negative tone especially during this current financial storm.

Arriving just before the beginning of the ceremony gave me few options for seats, so as you can see from the picture, I was situated in the back of the room. And, having arrived just before start I did not get a translation headset so only understood half of the speakers. Luckily those who spoke in English included Vindana Shiva, Alice Waters, UN Assistant Secretary General Carlos Lopes, Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement, and Sam Levin, a high school student from Massachusetts who spoke eloquently about starting a school garden.

The common theme of their talks stressed 3 crisis we are currently facing - financial, food security, and climate/environment - that together emphasized the importance of moving forward a more sustainable and equitable food system. Vindana Shiva (photo, right) received a long standing ovation for her passionate voice for sustainable, fair food, as well as her tirade against WTO, Monsanto, and Wall St. She was able to successfully connect these groups due to the gravity of the issues we currently face. The term that will stick with me from her speech was how we are currently being managed by "the rules of fiction": paperless, collateraless monetary transactions like derivatives and mortgage-backed securities.

Tomorrow (which is today here) I head to Salone Del Gusto, a marketplace of world food producers, and also to a meeting of all US delegates.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

WANTED: New Farmers

On Monday evening, Mary and I attended the Local Harvest Gala at the Palace Ballroom to celebrate the Local Food Action Initiative and to help raise funds for BALLE Seattle.

The food, catered by Tom Douglas Restaurants, was top-freakin'-notch. Absolutely delicious. Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin made an excellent point: one of the benefits of working on local food issues is the refreshments are always delicious. Hear, hear!

The words, spoken by various leaders throughout the sustainable ag. community, were inspiring. My favorite tid-bit from the speeches came from Siri Erickson-Brown of Local Roots Farm. She spoke about the challenges and successes she has experienced first-hand when starting out farming. But perhaps her most important idea was that we are in dire need of new farmers. She astutely pointed out that nearly every community wants its own farmers market. We can attest to that: every week we field calls from folks who want to start their own FM. But for a farmers market to be successful, it first must have FARMERS!

Fact: There aren't enough farmers to fill all of the potential farmers markets...actually, there aren't enough farmers, period!

As the local food movement continues to gain public awareness and demand increases, we must examine the supply side of the equation as well. If we want to create a sustainable food system, it is imperative that we GROW NEW FARMERS.

It will not be easy, it will not happen quickly, but we must begin to build a sustainable framework on which to build new farms and grow new farmers.


Learn more about the County of Origin Labeling, which finally went into effect on Sept. 30th. This site even has "webinars".

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Michael Ableman and Eat Local for Thanksgiving

Hey Friends,

It’s hard to believe, but Thanksgiving and the bustle of the holidays are just a little more than six weeks away! With summer behind us and winter looming ahead, local farms are growing and harvesting the delicious foods of autumn. Imagine warm butternut squash soup, roasted buttery potatoes, fresh-baked apple pie, toasted pumpkin seeds. Yum! Some farmers markets are open all winter, so check out to find the one nearest you, or visit your local farm-friendly grocer for some Northwest bounty.

Coming up soon

This Friday, renowned farmer, author and photographer Michael Ableman will talk about food, culture and sustainability. He’s traveled the world and will share engaging, real-world stories of farmers and organizations that are providing leadership and re-thinking how we feed ourselves and our communities. What better way to get into the Thanksgiving spirit than to discuss how food and culture intertwine both here and abroad?

Date: Friday, October 24
Time: 6 – 8 p.m.
Place: Everett Station, Weyerhaeuser Room,
3201 Smith Avenue, Everett, WA 98201
Cost: $10 Cascade Harvest Coalition members; $15 non-members; RSVPs requested but not required by Monday, October 20 to Mary at Cascade Harvest: or by phone at (206)632-0606

Take the Pledge!

This Thanksgiving,
take the pledge and offer at least one menu item prepared with a locally grown or produced food. It’s a simple, affordable and delicious way to show your support for local farms and help sustain our local food economy.

Here's why it’s important. When you choose to Eat Local for Thanksgiving, you:
• Support our local farms, which increases local jobs and strengthens the rural areas of Washington
• Reduce our dependence on food grown far away
• Keep our locally earned dollars circulating in our local economy
• Strengthen our local food system so we have healthy, safe and delicious food that supports our families and our environment.

Visit:, and
please forward to family, friends and colleagues, and invite them to join you in your pledge to Eat Local for Thanksgiving!

If you are interested in receiving Eat Local for Thanksgiving promotional materials, please contact Mark McIntyre at


Eat Local for Thanksgiving Steering Committee

Friday, October 17, 2008

Immigrant labor and the price of food


-Though provoking article from the Seattle Times, titled "Crackdown on illegal immigration boosts food prices," which quickly sketches the complex issue of immigrant labor, farming, and food prices. For more information on farmworkers and farmworker issues, please visit

-A nifty little article about eating to enjoy, rather than to diet and the positive health benefits of such a lifestyle.

-Warren Buffet advises Americans to buy American...just like we advise locals to buy local. Which leads me to an interesting thought: food compared to sports. Many Americans are fanatic about their local sports teams, for no better reason than they're the local sports teams. Why not food? Doesn't it make sense to cheer for our local farmers, rather than some schmo down in California? I know that I wouldn't be caught dead cheering for the San Francisco 49'ers when they're playing the Seattle Seahawks this coming Sunday. Root for the home farmers.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another interesting online debate

How much are you willing to pay for fresh, local produce?

What are the major challenges facing agriculture in Washington state?

KUOW recently produced a series called "Sweet Earth: Lessons From the Land" that aimed to open up discussion about the pros and cons with local food.

From the website:
"Soaring gasoline prices, climate change, health consciousness. They're all factors in the growing movement to eat locally. It's a great slogan, but is it possible to eat locally in the Central Puget Sound region? What kinds of challenges face our local farmers? What can state and local government do to help? From King County's efforts to protect farmlands from encroaching development, to programs that try to find aspiring farmers to make that land productive, we'll hear about public and private initiatives to boost farming. We'll also learn how direct marketing can take farmers beyond the traditional farmers markets. And we'll explore the bond between farmers and the land they steward."

In one edition, two of our friends, Andrew Stout and Anne Schwartz, answer questions about current problems facing farmers in Washington. View their discussion!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thanksgiving Tasting at Whole Foods to Benefit CHC

Come visit us at the Roosevelt Square Whole Foods on November 6th! There will be food, beer and wine tastings galore. The cover charge is $10 and all proceeds go to help Cascade Harvest Coalition. Boo-yah! More information right here.


A couple quick reminders...

1.) We're smack in the middle of October, which means it's time to take the Eat Local for Thanksgiving pledge. Your friends and family members will thank you for including delicious, fresh food on the holiday table. Your local farmers will thank you for helping support them and their hard work. Your pocketbook will thank you for buying affordable local food that will help sustain our local food economy. And finally, we will thank you by entering your name to win a locally raised heritage turkey or free Organic Valley dairy products for a year. Eat Local for Thanksgiving: it's simple, affordable and delicious.

Take the pledge!

2.) Sign up to hear Michael Ableman speak about the future of food on October 24th from 6-8pm at the Everett Station. It should be a fun and educational talk, with plenty of opportunities to hob-knob with local food celebrities. To RSVP, email Mary Embleton:

More to come later.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Local Farms Healthy Kids article

Here's a great update in the Kitsap Sun about the Local Farms Health Kids bill in action at elementary schools on the peninsula. LFHK is a landmark piece of legislation that really positions Washington state as a government leader in the effort to relocalize our food system.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Friday

Well, it looks like the weather will be nice over the weekend, which bodes well for the penultimate Helping Hands Workparty at Full Circle Farm.

If you only read one article this weekend, read this one:

Uniting Around Food to Save an Ailing Town

I love the idea of a "Community Supported Restaurant." That's great.


Thursday, October 9, 2008 don't like the taste of local food?!

Almost all press surrounding the local food movement is positive. In general, most people are very supportive of local food, even if they don't frequent farmers markets or subscribe to a CSA. From an ideals perspective, it's hard to argue with supporting local farms and farmers. From a pocketbook perspective, sometimes it's hard to see the long-term impacts of a pricey bunch of carrots (even though local studies have shown the prices to be comparable). I understand that angle. But never before have I heard taste as a reason not to like local food. Looks like some University of Portland students are unadventurous eaters. Wow. My favorite quote from the article:

"We are not HIPPIES. We don't care where our food comes from. It just has to taste good. This does not taste good."

Instead, the student wanted his/her regular Tuesday chicken wrap. Ahh, to be a student again.

Talk to any chef worth their salt and they'll tell you that local is where it's at for flavor and freshness...and not from a idealist perspective. Sure, some of them love their farmers, but you'll find chefs out there who don't really care about the movement, so long as they can get their hands on top quality product.

So hurrah for UP students who don't like local food (or hippies), may they enjoy their institutional chicken wraps on Tuesdays and their obesity and urban sprawl on Fridays.


In other news:

Snohomish County pays to preserve farmland

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cascade Harvest Coalition in Crisis

Dear friends,

The meltdown in financial markets and the increasingly weak economy have hit us hard here at Cascade Harvest Coalition. As of today, we will lose 75% of our operating budget (approximately $230,000) for 2009. This is largely local government grants that won’t be funded because of operating shortfalls.

We need your help!

For ten years, Cascade Harvest Coalition has been fiercely dedicated to building a sustainable food system in our region. Each year, we have reached millions of consumers with messages on the critical importance of local farms and food to our economy, our communities and our environment. We have given them the tools they need to directly connect with local farmers – through the Puget Sound Fresh Farm Guide, CSA directory, searchable database, and by directly supporting Farmers Markets and restaurants, local retail grocers and others who source locally.

We have made it our mission to more directly connect farmers with local food buyers, helping support sustainable farming operations and increasing their bottom line.

We have provided thousands of hours of one-on-one assistance to current and beginning farmers as they try to access land, start new farm businesses, and develop new markets. We have helped maintain over 500 acres in active agricultural production and provided many hundreds of farmers with the resources, tools and information they need to be successful.

And our efforts to support new processing infrastructure in the Puget Sound region are starting to bear fruit. Working with our collaborative partners, we’ve identified existing processing capacity and are helping farmers get new products to market as well as examining the potential for other processing facilities. We are adding considerably to the fundamental base of information about production, processing and infrastructure in our region that will serve us for years to come.

Importantly, we have also provided significant financial support to other organizations promoting sustainable food and farming systems by helping fund workshops, conferences and other community events as well as acting as fiscal sponsor for organizations just starting to build capacity.

And, we provide a crucial conduit for information – through this and our other email lists – to make sure that those interested in issues affecting local food and farms are informed. This list – started nearly 10 years ago – has grown from reaching a handful of individuals and organizations – to reaching an estimated 2,000 directly and through information sharing. Almost daily – organizations ask to post information to this list because they know you care about the issues. And yet, the majority of people on this list are not members of Cascade Harvest Coalition.

We urge you to become a member or make a contribution, individually and through your business or organization to support our efforts at this critical time. Your support is crucial in helping us maintain the momentum we’ve built and the successes we’ve achieved.

Thank you for your support!

Mary Embleton, Director

Monday, October 6, 2008

Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) update

Last week, COOL finally went into effect.

On the Seattle PI blog "Secret Ingredients", Andrew Schnieder writes: "After six years, Congress finally got its way this week when rules requiring meat and fresh produce to be labeled by national origin finally went into effect....But don't begin shopping with a blindfold on. The mantra "Buyer beware" is still very much in play in the grocery aisles because the list of exemptions to the labeling laws that industry demanded and received is lengthy and complex."

In other words, not much has changed. While COOL is now in effect, there are so many loopholes that it's not hard for those in the food industry to slightly alter their product and thus skirt any COOL regulations. Boo! Hiss! Consumers want accountability, not more worthless regulations that don't improve public health or safety.

What do you think about COOL?


Friday, October 3, 2008

Eat Local Month in Puget Sound?

Ouch. My face hurts from the large, heavy gauntlet smacking we just took from the Seattle Weekly. Jonathan Kaufmann just challenged us and many of our partner organizations to step up and create an "Eat Local Month" here in the Puget Sound.

I think it's a great idea and I agree with Mr. Kaufmann that it's long overdue.

For this year, I suggest you take the Eat Local for Thanksgiving's a start!

Read the full article:
Why Doesn't the Puget Sound Have a Local Food Month?


Urban farmer wins $500,000 MacArthur "genius grant"

An inspiring article about a man with a vision:

Mr. Allen said he learned it all from his parents. “We’re having to go back to when people shared things and started taking care of each other,” he said. “That’s the only way we will survive.”

“What better way,” he mused, “than to do it with food?”

Full article:

An Urban Farmer Is Rewarded for His Dream

Turkeys at Persephone Farm

Here he is, folks: Tom Turkey! This lovely bird was kind enough to stand still for a moment while we took his picture out at Persephone Farm in Indianola, WA.

It's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving. Yes, it is somewhat early, but it's also primetime harvest on local farms and a great opportunity to plan ahead for a wonderful holiday meal. This year, take the Eat Local for Thanksgiving pledge to offer at least one locally grown or raised food item on your holiday table. It's simple, affordable and delicious! Plus, when you take the pledge, you'll be entered to win a locally raised heritage turkey (kinda like the one pictured!) or free Organic Valley milk for a year. Some great prizes for participating in a great campaign.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Michael Ableman to talk about local food systems this October

For Immediate Release Contact: Mary Embleton, Cascade Harvest Coalition,

206-632-0606 or

Feeding the Future: Stories, Images and Ideas from the Frontier of Food and Agriculture, an Evening with Michael Ableman

Everett, WA: Where our food comes from and how it is grown are getting more attention than ever, particularly in light of large national and international food recalls, recent studies detailing the tremendous energy consumed by our current industrialized food system, and the impacts that food system has on the health of communities and the environment worldwide. We are facing what proponents of sustainable food systems for years have called a looming ‘food crisis.’ It is time to take an insightful look at what is happening on the frontier of sustainable and localized food systems and the promising models that can lead us forward.

Join renowned farmer, author and photographer Michael Ableman on October 24th at 6 pm at Everett Station for a closer look at food, culture and sustainability gleaned from his travels across urban and rural landscapes in the US and abroad. Hear about the farmers and organizations that are providing real leadership and action on re-thinking how we feed ourselves and our communities.

Regional efforts at re-localizing our food system will get a boost from this dynamic discussion as we launch the second annual Eat Local for Thanksgiving campaign and gear up for Snohomish County’s 5th Annual Future of Farming Conference: Breaking New Ground (

This event is sponsored by Cascade Harvest Coalition with support from Snohomish County, the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, WSU Snohomish County Extension and Cascade Land Conservancy. Cost is $15 for non-members and $10 for members of Cascade Harvest Coalition. Seating is limited so reserve your seat today for this exciting event.

When: October 24, 2008

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Where: Everett Station, Weyerhaeuser Room, 3201 Smith Avenue, Everett, 98201

Light refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP to Mary at 206-632-0606 or by October 20th