LA Food Policy Council: Upcoming Events, News, Etc

APIOPA is a part of the Los Angeles Food and Policy Council. I wanted to quickly share their latest e-newsletter with y’all.

LAFPC Quarterly Newsletter

Spring 2012


Contents

Upcoming Events:

  • Saturday, 3/31/12 — Good Food Day LA
  • Thursday, 3/29/12 — Film Screening: “The Apple Pushers”

News:

  • Villaraigosa Appoints First U.S. Mayors Food Policy Task Force
  • Big City Mayors Sign Farm Bill Letter
  • LAFPC Members Join White House Roundtable Discussion
  • LAPFC Members Invited to Join AB 581 Advisory Committee

Message from the Chair:

  • A Good Food Transformation in Progress: Mama’s Chicken House

Interview:

  • Michael Roberts, UCLA School of Law and LAFPC Member
***

UPCOMING EVENTS

Good Food Day LA — Saturday, March 31st

On Saturday, March 31, Angelenos throughout the city will join together for Good Food Day LA to learn about, celebrate and volunteer to strengthen our local food system. Please join us! The Mayor’s volunteer and service campaign, “We Serve LA,” is partnering with the Los Angeles Food Policy Council to present the citywide day of service. Nearly forty volunteer sites, bringing together thousands of volunteers and participants, will be engaged in activities around the city, including garden plantings, cooking demonstrations and competitions, CalFresh sign-ups at farmers’ markets, food policy trainings and education.

In addition to the volunteer activities, a Good Food Day LA Festival will be held under the Spring Street Bridge at Metabolic Studio near Chinatown. The day will begin with a Native American Honoring Ceremony with the Tongva at the Anabolic Monument in the Los Angeles State Historic Park. Later in the day, there will be a Good Food resource fair, food trucks and Homegirl Café’s Street Eats, our cabbage inspired “From Kim Chee to Cole Slaw” cooking contest, and live music.

Finally, in honor of Cesar Chavez Day, the day will close with a panel discussion “From the Local to the Global: Will Food Ever be Fair?” Moderated Evan Kleiman (host of the radio show “Good Food” on KCRW) guest speakers include Pulitzer-winning Los Angeles Times Restaurant Critic Jonathan Gold, Joann Lo of Food Chain Workers Alliance, Muthoni Muriu of Oxfam America and Diana Tellefson of United Farm Workers Foundation. The panel will explore how our food choices can help create a global Fair Food system.

For more information about all of our exciting Good Food Day LA activities, please visit the calendar section of our website.

Film Screening: “The Apple Pushers” — Thursday, March 29th

The Apple Pushers” follows the inspiring stories of five immigrant pushcart vendors who have joined a unique urban initiative that uses street vending as a means to fuel micro-entrepreneurism and increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in New York City’s food deserts—neighborhoods where finding a ripe, red apple is a serious challenge and where obesity and diabetes rates are skyrocketing. Meanwhile, here in Los Angeles—a city long celebrated for its vibrant street food culture—street food vending is actually illegal. This event is designed to build awareness and highlight innovative approaches to tackling food access disparities, while creating legal economic opportunity for pushcart vendors.

This film screening is presented by LURN (Leadership for Urban Renewal Now), the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, 50 Egg Films and the East LA Community Corporation. Please join us after the film for wine and hors d’oeuvres! For more information about the screening, please visit the calendar section of our website.

***

NEWS

Villaraigosa Appoints First U.S. Mayors Food Policy Task Force

At the 80th Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in January in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the creation of the first Food Policy Task Force of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Villaraigosa appointed Mayor Tom Menino of Boston as the task force chair, with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore as vice-chair. The appointment of these mayors acknowledges the leadership of these mayors in addressing the problems of access to healthy food in low income communities, in developing urban agriculture, and initiating healthy food programs and practices. To read more, please visit the Food News section of our website.

Big City Mayors Sign Farm Bill Letter

On March 6, the mayors of 10 major metropolitan cities, including Los Angeles, Boston, New York City and Chicago outlined their priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill in a letter sent to senior Congressional lawmakers on the House and Senate Agricultural Committees’ urging the lawmakers to protect nutrition assistance and conservation programs and support healthy and local food initiatives. Read the letter here.

The mayors’ message arrives as Farm Bill negotiations begin heating up in Washington D.C. In early March, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a Farm Bill hearing on “Healthy Food Initiatives, Local Production and Nutrition,” with six witnesses testifying, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Committee Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) opened the hearing by noting that locally grown foods are helping create new market opportunities for farmers and agriculture producers across the country, while also helping to provide families greater access to healthy and nutritious foods. Stabenow also said that food hubs and local food systems are a ‘win-win’ for agriculture, and help to re-introduce agriculture to a younger generation of up-and-coming farmers and ranchers. To read more, please visit the Food News section of our website.

LAFPC Members Join White House Roundtable Discussion on Agriculture, Jobs and the Food Value Chain

On Thursday, March 8, 2012, six members of the L.A. Food Policy Council were invited by the USDA to participate in the White House Business Council’s Roundtable discussion on jobs in the agricultural and food value chain. The talks were hosted by Dean Michael Woo (an L.A. Food Policy Task Force member) of Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Environmental Design. The LAFPC members who participated were LAFPC Chair Paula Daniels, Michael Flood (CEO, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank), Glenda Humiston (State Director of California Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture), A.G. Kawamura (President, Orange County Produce, LLC), Greg Kettles (Deputy Counsel, Office of Mayor Villaraigosa, City of Los Angeles), and Michael Roberts (UCLA Adjunct Faculty, UCLA School of Law and Center for Food Law and Policy).

LAPFC Members Invited to Join AB 581 Advisory Committee

Three members of the L.A. Food Policy Council were invited by the California Dept. of Food & Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross to be members of the Food Access Advisory Group, created by AB 581, the legislation by Speaker Perez which also created the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative. The LAFPC members on the advisory committee include LAFPC Chair Paula Daniels, Michael Flood (CEO, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank), and Mary Lee (Deputy Director of Policy Link).

***

MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR

A Good Food Transformation in Progress:
Mama’s Chicken House

By Paula Daniels, Founding Chair of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council

Mama’s Chicken House is on the corner of Slauson and 4th in an area of Los Angeles now called South LA. It is a part of the city that is not in the tourism ads; there are no glistening boulevards lined by palm trees, no nearby beaches, no blondes. Instead, there are peeling billboards and exposed railroad tracks zig zagging between junk yards and liquor stores.

Karen Whitman, the owner of Mama’s Chicken House, has been selling her homemade chicken sausage, sweet potato pies and “Sock It To Me” chocolate cake from this corner of the neighborhood for going on 40 years now. Recently, she moved the jewelry case from the front entrance to a spot between the aisles of canned goods, and replaced it with baskets of fresh produce. Just by the door is a chalkboard sign letting shoppers know that organic collard greens are now available for the asking, just “chillin’ in the fridge” in the back.

There were plans to build refrigerated shelves at the front of Karen’s store so that the organic collard greens and grapes, the green beans, cabbage, celery, curly mustard greens and carrots, could be on display and accessible right there at the front, where the chalkboard sign is now. Karen’s store was one of four in South Los Angeles that had been identified for the Community Market Conversion program, a partnership of the Community Redevelopment Agency-Los Angeles (CRA-LA), The California Endowment, and the County Department of Public Health.

The Community Market Conversion program is one of many around the country that recognizes the value of nurturing healthy transformations of small, locally owned stores in underserved communities. These neighborhoods are otherwise oversaturated by fast food marketing, liquor stores and littered with the empty calories of highly processed, cheap, packaged food products. Philadelphia has the longest running and most extensive program, with more than 88 small stores converted in over six years.

LAFPC member Mary Lee says: “The CMC program has the potential to be a ‘game changer’ when it comes to increasing the availability of healthy food in communities that have had little or no access to stores selling good food at good prices. The program is unique because it fully engages store operators and enhances their capacity to run a successful store while simultaneously nourishing connections between these merchants and community residents who will shop at the redesigned stores. Small corner stores are so prevalent in low income communities and communities of color — transforming even a small percentage of them into healthy and vibrant markets would significantly improve the food landscape.”

Things were going along well with the CMC program here in Los Angeles; in addition to product placement and community involvement in the process, architects had drawn up plans for a storefront makeover, funds were set aside for the installation of refrigerated shelves, and technical assistance in produce management was provided. Whether any of that gets done now, depends on the entities created to wind down the operations of the now defunct CRA, which was recently shuttered by Governor Brown.

With the stroke of a political and then judicial pen, Karen Whitman’s dreams for a new day and a new way are on hold. Mama’s Chicken House was one of many CRA-LA’s strategies, small and large, which are now being dismantled, discarded or left to an uncertain fate.

Karen Whitman has always been wise beyond her years. She started working in the store at the corner of Slauson and 4th at the age of 14, managing it by the time she was 18, and owning it soon thereafter. Generations have shopped in her store and she knows them all by name. In her middle years now, she is also wise beyond time. Hopefully, those who are charged with winding down CRA’s operations will allow the Community Market Conversion program to continue, and Karen will be able to easily offer her customers all the other good food she has dreamed of making more available.

In the meantime, Karen greets her customers by name and offers them a fresh apple, her soft smile, and her eternal grace.

To get involved and learn more about next steps for the Community Market Conversion Program, please email Clare Fox at claremfox.cmc@gmail.com.

The fresh produce section at Mama’s Chicken House

***

INTERVIEW

Michael Roberts, UCLA School of Law and L.A. Food Policy Council Member

Michael Roberts, UCLA School of Law

Michael Roberts is an adjunct faculty member at the UCLA School of Law who is well versed in a broad range of legal and policy issues from farm to fork in local, national, and global food supply systems. He is also a member of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. In this interview, we ask Michael to tell us more about his perspective on the safety of our food and the coexistence of local and global supply chains.

How reliant are we, as Americans, on imported food? How safe is imported food in our food supply?

I don’t know if Americans are aware of it, but they are to a large extent responsible for the increasing amount of imported food products. Americans demand produce all year round. That consumer demand generates retailers to buy products from around the world. I would be surprised if many people when they visit the grocery store think, “I’m only going to buy what is seasonally available in my area.” We don’t do that. We go there and expect to eat cantaloupe in December. California is unique because it is still the breadbasket the world, but other places in the country are not as fortunate. Part of it is consumer demand, but the economic and global food system actually allows us to import increasing amounts of food products.

We are increasing the levels of foods that are imported every year. 40% of fruits and vegetables are imported. 60% of all the apple juice here comes from China. Most of our seafood is imported. It is a global food system. We have historically inspected less than 2% of imported food. Under the Food Safety Modernization—that will increase, but not by very much. The goal is to identify and inspect high-risk products and foreign facilities. We are dependent on the efficacy of other countries’ food systems. How do we ensure that they are importing safe food to the US? We have to either trust them or inspect them. And both of those are problematic.
So we’ve created this interesting global food system and we’ve suddenly become aware of the cost. What do we think about this? The horse is already out of the barn, and now we’re trying to play catch-up.

Farmers markets are beginning to flourish and agribusinesses are popping up. Do you think there are advantages to a local food system? Do you think we should lean more towards the local system or the global, or is there a balance we can strike?

There has to be a balance. So often we create this dichotomy in agriculture that is not helpful. Organic or conventional? While creating the categories can be useful, we have a responsibility to make sure that the food product that’s not necessarily organic is still sustainable. In my opinion, our emphasis should be less about creating a dividing line than making sure conventional food will continue to work towards better and more sustainable practices.

There’s always the question if we can feed the world on local food. Right now we can’t, although it might be that eventually we can do better than we are now. In the meantime, we have a lot of monolithic type farms that I think will continue to serve an essential purpose. Local food has to be done in a thoughtful way and ought to tie into a local system and a plan that benefits the entire region. I think we can have both. Again, obsession about the dichotomy does not help anyone.

I don’t know that local food is more or less safe. One of the exemptions to the Food Safety Modernization Act was small farms. This has been a big battle for the FDA, who is concerned about the safety of small operations. My concern is that focusing on safety to the exclusion of all other values associated with small farms will lead to rules that will choke and suffocate small and local enterprises. I think there are ways to work with small farms other than simply imposing rules. For example, the UDSA’s extension programs could help train and teach food safety to small farms.

As a member of the LAFPC, any closing thoughts?

The growing interest in food is really amazing. The class I teach at UCLA—it’s amazing to me the interest of students who have never been to a farm. They are interested because they are consumers who purchase and consume food. As I remind them, the question is how do we use the food governance system to change behavior? It’s one thing to create options and opportunities; how do we actually change behavior to make a system that is equitable and sustainable? I think that’s going to be a bigger challenge than we anticipate. But it’s also a wonderful opportunity, and I’m just so impressed with the collection of talent that’s on the [LAFPC] committee; there are people from all walks of life with different interests. And these very interesting people have strong ideas about what needs to be done. It’s very exciting to be a part of this dynamic and I am sure it will be rewarding one day to sit back and see what is accomplished.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: