Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “organic produce”

Interesting Dirt – Roger Ingalls

Most of us don’t think about dirt or topsoil but we should. Without it we don’t exist.

photo from popsci.com

The diameter of the Earth is approximately 8,000 miles which is equivalent to 506,880,000 inches. That’s roughly a half a billion inches across. Now, this next fact is something we all should think long and hard about; only the outer two to eight inches is suitable for plant life. Look at your hand…precious dirt (topsoil) is only as deep as your hand is long. That’s an amazingly thin layer of life giving material.

We treat dirt like…well, dirt. We wash it away, pollute it, sterilize and kill it. Yes, natural and healthy topsoil is a living ecosystem full of beneficial microbes and fungi that can be killed with manmade synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Did you know that a tablespoon of healthy soil has more living critters than there are people on Earth? The invisible creatures help feed the plants. Microbes or beneficial bacteria break down minerals into elements the plants can uptake and the fungi pump water and nutrients onto and into the plant’s roots. The plant roots, in turn, give sugars (carbohydrates) to the bacteria and fungi which they use for food. It’s a symbiotic and sustainable relationship.

Plants will grow in dead dirt or lifeless sand if they are treated with manmade fossil-fuel fertilizers, pesticides and a lot of water. However, they will not be as nutritious as plants grown in living soil because they lack nutrient density.

Improve your health and save the soil…eat local, eat organic.

Better yet, grow your own.

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Roger Ingalls is well-traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Fresh Produce for the Homeless

Some time ago I wrote about Spiral Gardens, a community garden in Berkeley that donates produce and profit from its stand to a low-income housing group nearby.

While speaking at a panel about Jews and Social Justice last month, a woman from the audience who is a member of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco told us about that Jewish community’s involvement in the Free Farm Stand.

The goals of The Free Farm Stand include:

•help make locally grown, fresh and nutritious organic produce accessible to all, especially those families and individuals on low-incomes and tight budgets.

•help empower people who have the space to grow their own food and become more self-reliant.

•promote good nutrition and health

In addition to growing as much produce as possible, they also have a framework to harvest and collect produce from gardens in the Mission District. They also receive surplus from the local farmer’s market which they can distribute to homeless and low income populations.

If you are interested in volunteering, please call Lauren at Produce to the People: producetothepeople@gmail.com or by phone at 415-828-9733

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/

 

People Making a Difference – Alice Waters

Alice Waters doesn’t need much introduction around these parts. The owner of Chez Panisse, author of many health/nutrition books and the endorser of a slew of initiatives in the organic, sustainable, local food movement, Waters would be a celebrity if she hadn’t chosen to live in such an anti-establishment community such as Berkeley.

Alice Waters at the King Middle School Edible Schoolyard

Still at least here she can encourage people to spend their money on organic produce rather than fashionable shoes without fear of someone stabbing her with their Women’s Liliana by Adi Croc Print Pointed Toe Stiletto ($36 at Target by the way – I did some research).

One particular initiative has caught my attention. My eldest has begun studying at King Middle School where Ms. Waters helped establish an edible schoolyard. It has now become a growing initiative around the country.

Ms. Waters says: “Students who are given healthy food options at school, along with gardening and culinary curriculum, have a greater knowledge of nutrition and eat more fruits and vegetables than children who don’t.”

Students shuck corn at the Edible Schoolyard

She also believes that every child from kindergarten to high school should eat school lunch for free. When you charge for lunch the kids who need it the most won’t buy it.

When asked what gives her hope for the burgeoning food justice movement she replied:

“The next generation of eaters — those under 25. There are some extraordinarily eager and committed young people who really care about food and where it comes from. And they understand why we need to go back to basics like growing our own food and sharing a simple, home-cooked meal.

This age group really gets the importance of nourishing ourselves and the planet.”

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

 

 

 

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