A recent article in The Gothernburg Times caught my eye, Animal welfare activists threaten nation's agriculture. Excuse me? Drawing largely on the platform of the industry-supported Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN), the author presents us with…
Where does our school food come from and how is it produced? To investigate some of these issues, Animal Welfare Approved sponsored a one-week, three-city tour for the UK Dinner Lady, Jeanette Orrey. Jeanette is credited with changing school food in the UK, and AWA sponsored this visit to promote cross cultural dialogue and share her experiences with people working to make change in several US school districts. Following two days in New York City, the tour continued south (via Amtrak), to Baltimore City Public Schools and Arlington (Virginia) Public Schools. (Pictured: Nancy Easton and Chef Bill Telepan of NYC nonprofit, Wellness in the Schools and Baltimore City Schools' Great Kids Farm Manager Greg Strella.)
We had a great visit yesterday with our friends at Queens County Farm Museum. Pictured is Amy Fischetti-Boncardo, Executive Director, Jeanette Orrey, UK Dinner Lady, Andrew Gunther, AWA Program Director and Michael Grady Robertson, Director of Agriculture for the Queens Farm. Our discussion focused on nutritious school food and ways we can work together to effect changes. The Farm hosts more than 250,000 school children annually who get the opportunity to see live farm animals and get an idea of where their food comes from. Joining us on this continuing journey were Chef Bill Telepan, Wellness in the Schools' Nancy Easton and AWA staffer Brigid Sweeney.
Animal Welfare Approved, the nation’s leading certification label for family farmers raising their animals with high welfare standards, is hosting Jeanette Orrey, the United Kingdom’s famous “Dinner Lady” (that would be a lunch lady on this side of the pond) the week of January 11th. Orrey is a leader in the U.K.’s efforts to provide school lunches made of fresh, local organic food. She will be visiting with school officials, farmers and proponents of healthy school lunches in New York City, Baltimore, Maryland and Arlington, Virginia. Accompanying Orrey on her journey will be Animal Welfare Approved staff, Bill Telepan, chef/owner of Manhattan’s Telepan Restaurant, and Nancy Easton, a New York City teacher for 20 years. Telepan is a long-time Animal Welfare Approved supporter and a board member of Wellness in the Schools. Wellness in the Schools is a grassroots organization that promotes children's environmental health, nutrition and fitness within the New York City public schools. Easton co-founded Wellness in the Schools and serves on its board. The New York City school system serves approximately 1.1 million students.
In response to many ongoing requests asking whether Animal Welfare Approved products are available in Whole Foods Market stores, the answer is YES! This holiday season, in addition to purchasing your AWA meat directly from the farm, CSA, farmers’ markets, co-ops, or buying clubs, you can shop at more than 130 Whole Foods Market locations and find Animal Welfare Approved grassfed beef and pastured pork products. While Animal Welfare Approved farmers supply numerous Whole Foods Market locations, typically it has been difficult for consumers to find Animal Welfare Approved products at these stores because most AWA products will lack the familiar AWA label. And since Whole Foods Market stores offer a variety of meat products from a host of different sources, consumers need to ask for Animal Welfare Approved products by the specific farm or farm group where the animals were raised on pasture or range.
Not that we like to gloat, but…. Grassfed beef from two Animal Welfare Approved farmers has gone head-to-head with conventional beef in separate taste tests. The results are in and, well, to be modest, SMACKDOWN! This past summer, AWA supporter Chef Bill Telepan issued a challenge to Mark and Dr. Patricia Whisnant of American Grass Fed Beef—bring him some grassfed beef that he deemed worthy of using in his famous burger and he would make the switch from the beef his customers had come to love. And so, on a muggy New York City afternoon, a small crowd gathered to see the gloves come off as 100% grassfed took on heavyweight conventional grain-fed. In a stunning upset, Chef Bill declared the upstart 100% grassfed beef the winner, bestowing the crown of onion rings and French fries that top the famous Telepan burger on the Whisnant’s American Grass Fed Beef.
Willie Nelson appeared on CNN yesterday, talking about Farm Aid and the struggle of America's family farms. In this clip, he also performs a new song to be premiered at Farm Aid, which he co-authored with Bob Dylan. Animal Welfare staff members and three Animal Welfare Approved farmers are on hand at Farm Aid this weekend to spread the word about the benefits of pasture-based farming and high-welfare standards. Hope to see you at the Homegrown Village and at tonight's Farm Aid Eve dinner where all of the pork and beef served will be from AWA farmers Fudge Family Farms (pork) and American Grass Fed Beef. Photo: Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve Inc. 2008 CLICK BLOG TITLE ABOVE TO SEE THE VIDEO.
FROM OUR FRIENDS AT SLOW FOOD Dear members, supporters and friends, On Labor Day, more than 20,000 people came together in all 50 states to tell Congress it's time to give kids real food at school. If you went to an Eat-In, we'd like to say thank you. And if you're one of the Slow Food Chapter Leaders and Eat-In Organizers who put incredible time and energy into the 300 Eat-Ins that took place nationwide, we'd like to shout thank you -- you made the day possible. The momentum helped us surpass our Labor Day petition goal - there are more than 20,000 signatures online, another 10,000 on paper, and many more still coming in. That's a huge show of support. When Congress starts debating the Child Nutrition Act this fall, we'll be able to take those signatures to legislators and make a strong case for reform.
Last year over Labor Day, Animal Welfare Approved farmers and staff attended Slow Food Nation in San Francisco with the goal of promoting a better food system for this country. This year, Slow Food is again rallying to promote good food for all. Please read about the initiative and plan to take part. FROM AN EMAIL JUST RECEIVED FROM SLOW FOOD... In three days, people in all 50 states will sit down to share a meal and bend the direction of history just a little bit. Together, we are publicly rejecting the notion that our schools can’t afford to feed kids anything but the bad food that makes them sick. And the way we’re making this statement is by bringing neighbors together in the spirit of good will and for the joy of sharing good food. That is the heart of our movement. Attend an Eat-In on Labor Day.
Chef Noah Sheetz recently visited Kinderhook Farm in Ghent, NY and he was so impressed by the farm that he blogged about his experience. Noah said, "It undoubtedly is one of the cleanest and most picturesque farms in all of Columbia County." Noah is a strong advocate for supporting local NY farmers and has more recently started educating children about eating healthier foods. Below we've included a snippet of Noah's recipe which showcases Kinderhook Farm's Animal Welfare Approved beef ribs: Honey and Chili Glazed Beef Ribs with Creamed Swiss Chard and Potatoes