(Rebecca Wiggins, La Semilla Food Center for Las Cruces Sun-News; 10/23/2013) -- [...] La Semilla Food Center and the National Farm to School Network have partnered with Gadsden Middle School to plan a day-long celebration for 800 students that connects them to local farmers and food, celebrates traditional foods of the Chihuahuan Desert and transforms an empty school courtyard into an edible food forest. Students will participate in classroom lessons and activities related to local agriculture, and will also get their hands dirty beautifying an empty 1,200 square-foot courtyard with edible landscaping. Sierra Vista Growers, a nursery based in La Union, has worked with the school to get the site ready for planting, provided compost and donated multiple fruit trees and edible native plants that will transform the space into a desert education garden.
While the spotlight is focused on preparing and sharing meals and celebrating the rich diversity of local agriculture, Food Day also brings attention to food-system issues, including food access and hunger, farm-worker justice, diet-related diseases, environmental impacts and junk food marketing to kids. The Food Day event is part of the La Semilla Food Center Farm to School program's continued efforts at Gadsden Middle School during the past two years to teach students. Continue to Read Here.
(Jerusha Kemplerer, CiThree days ago I met Tae-Young Nam. He’s a recent University of Wisconsin grad, who studied pre-medicine in college, and spent last year serving in Chicago public schools as a teaching assistant with City Year. He’s headed off this coming week to Anthony, New Mexico to become a FoodCorps service member. He’ll be teaching kids about healthy food, building and tending school gardens with them, and collaborating with school food staff to get high quality local food onto school lunch trays.
Another thing he’ll be doing this year is applying to medical school. Nam wants to become a doctor who helps “eradicate preventable ailments like malnutrition and obesity” in children. He told me he wants to be “a physician focusing on preventative care to an inner city or globally impoverished population,” with the ultimate goal of opening “a practice within a community nutritional center that would not only heal, but also be an example of healthy living.” Talking to Nam, I felt full of hope.
- See more at: http://civileats.com/2013/08/21/childhood-obesity-turning-the-ship-around/#sthash.8TlCexEx.dpuf
(KFOX14 News, 08/10/2013, Gina Benitez EL PASO, Texas)--The Downtown Art & Farmers Market has been open for about two months. Though the fairly new market is making progress, organizers face several challenges.
"It's been really great and we get a lot of customers that keep coming back week after week," said Raul Rodriguez, a local farmer.
It started out as just an art market. But since the June launch that merged the art and produce, around 8,000 El Pasoans have come to enjoy the weekly downtown event.
"Local food really is focused on building the connections between the local economy, improving health and really building our community," said Aaron Sharratt, with the La Semilla Food Center.
Read More at: http://www.kfoxtv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/downtown-art-farmers-market-talks-progress-challenges-faced-first-2-months-370.shtml#.UgcDc-DWln8
Andi Murphy, Las Cruces Sun-News)--With a grant from the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program, people who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program may now purchase food at the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market.
"It's really to get more people to the farmers market," said Rebecca Wiggins-Reinhard, Farm to School director with La Semilla...To get EBT accepted in Las Cruces, they had to work with WIC (Women, Infants and Children program), the New Mexico Department of Health, the City of Las Cruces, each of the farmers markets and New Mexico State University, she said.
"It's happening all over the nation," she said about EBT being accepted at farmers markets. "But there's been sort of an obstacle to get those machines. This grant was a chance for us to hire that outreach coordinator (who will be at the market to run the machines)." Continue reading here.
Policies Should Promote Access to Fruits and Vegetables, Science Group Says
WASHINGTON (August 7, 2013) — The old adage “an apple a day” was on to something. There is significant potential to prolong lives, improve health, and save health care costs if Americans simply ate more fruits and vegetables each day, according to a new report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
“The $11 Trillion Reward: How Simple Dietary Changes Can Save Lives and Money, and How We Get There” examines the linkage between fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of cardiovascular diseases. These diseases, the leading killer of Americans, include coronary heart disease and stroke, which together are responsible for 725,000 U.S. deaths each year. The report finds that if Americans consumed just one additional serving of fruits or vegetables a day, the nation would save $5 billion in health care expenditures and prevent 30,301 heart disease and stroke deaths annually.
If Americans were to go a step further and ate a full 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily, as recommended by federal dietary guidelines, it could prevent 127,261 deaths each year and save $17 billion in medical costs. The economic value of the lives saved from cardiovascular diseases is an astounding $11 trillion.
“Eating right is good for your health, and it rewards both your wallet and the economy,” saidJeffrey O’Hara, an agricultural economist with UCS’s Food & Environment Program and author of the report. “Helping Americans eat more of the right foods should be a public policy priority.”
Current farm policies set by Congress and implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) channel taxpayer dollars into subsidies for commodity crops, such as corn and soybeans, which are used as feed for livestock, biofuels and as processed food ingredients. These policies offer few incentives for farmers to grow fruits and vegetables – effectively discouraging production of the very foods federal dietary guidelines recommend.
“In addition to these perverse subsidies, these policies mean that consumers and taxpayers are footing the bill twice – once to subsidize commodity crops that become ingredients in unhealthy foods, and again to treat skyrocketing rates of costly diet-related illnesses such as heart disease and stroke,” said O’Hara.
Treating cardiovascular disease is expensive for individuals, and collectively for taxpayers who fund subsidized health insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. In 2010 alone, the total cost of treating cardiovascular diseases amounted to $273 billion – and these costs are expected to reach $818 billion by 2030.
“Our food system is quite literally making Americans sick and driving the country further into debt,” said O’Hara. “One solution is to enable better access to fruits and vegetables, and we can do this through incentives that make produce more available and affordable.”
UCS is advocating cost-effective policies that increase the availability and reduce the cost of domestically grown fruits and vegetables for consumers, especially low-income consumers who are hardest hit by cardiovascular disease and other diet-related illnesses. Low-income neighborhoods – where some 30 million Americans reside – are often far from grocery stores and other sources of fresh produce, hindering access.
“An ‘$11 trillion reward’ is possible, but it will take smarter policies that invest in more farmers markets and farm-to-school programs, along with other programs that make fresh produce more affordable for low-income families. We need to start thinking about consuming produce as a public health investment,” said O’Hara. “These smart investments would reduce the health care burden on families and taxpayers, and improve public health – a win-win for Americans.”
Today’s report was released in New York City during a press conference at The Mount Sinai Greenmarket, a farmers market that operates in conjunction with The Mount Sinai Medical Center. O’Hara; Dr. David Reich and Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin from The Mount Sinai Hospital; Marcel Van Ooyen with GrowNYC’S Greenmarket; and New York-based chef, restaurateur and television personality Tom Colicchio spoke at the press conference.
A three-minute video produced by UCS summarizes how we can achieve an $11 trillion reward through forward-looking farm policies.
Congratulations to 2013 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award winner and La Semilla Board Member Ricardo Salvador, Ph.D.
"The James Beard Foundation has announced the five recipients of its annual Leadership Awards. The Leadership Awards honor pioneers in the food system that are making positive changes to the food world as a whole."
Read "5 People Changing the Food System" in the Huffington Post to learn more.
(Emily C. Kelley, New Mexico State University News Release -- Las Cruces, NM) -- About 30 area middle and high school students have spent the last two weeks learning about architecture and sustainable design concepts at the Dona Ana Community College Architecture Discovery Camp, and have even teamed up to design building concepts based on needs in the community...Middle school participants visited La Semilla Food Center’s farm, located near Anthony, N.M., to learn about potential future needs of the nonprofit, whose mission is to build a healthy, self-reliant, fair and sustainable food system in the Paso del Norte region of southern New Mexico and El Paso, Texas.
La Semilla Farm Manager Jonathan Lessing met with the students during their field trip to the farm and explained the limitations of the land and the desired needs for future buildings. The students designed buildings to meet those needs. Continue reading here.
(Andi Murphy, Las Cruces Sun-News)--When the fruits and vegetables ripened, the students at Sierra Middle School had a feast of slaws, pumpkin pancakes, sushi rolls and sauteed turnips."I think it's good for kids to see where their food comes from," said Melly Locke, life science teacher at Sierra Middle School. "It's a real good group activity."
Through a partnership with La Semilla and Las Cruces Public Schools, a few local schools are going to grow school gardens that could be just as productive as the one at Sierra Middle School.
"There is a really big disconnect between kids and their food," said Kristina St. Cyr, Farm to School Program Coordinator with La Semila. "A lot of times when you ask kids where food comes from, they say the grocery store."
The gist of the Farm to School program is to educate kids about where food comes from, how it affects their bodies, the community and the environment. The program aims to connect food system education with curriculum standards. Read the full story here!