As the year comes to an end it’s become a tradition of mine to write a note of gratitude to Big Ag for the many ‘gifts’ they’ve given us throughout the year that we didn’t really want, need or – in some cases – didn’t even know about. Here’s my top 10 for 2012... #10 – Undermining Organic With Industrial Practices Many people are putting their faith in the “certified organic” label as an easy way to support farming systems that care about animal welfare, our health and the health of the planet. But the popularity of organic food is attracting industrial-scale operators who are exploiting the organic regulations for their own short-term gains. In October, news broke that a large-scale “organic” egg producer was being sued for making misleading marketing claims about the welfare of its chickens. Judy's Family Farm Organic Eggs’ cartons feature images of hens roaming on green fields, while the carton explains the hens are “raised in wide open spaces in Sonoma Valley, where they are free to ‘roam, scratch, and play’.” Yet it’s alleged that the birds are kept in covered sheds with no outdoor access, misleading consumers. Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident...
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 learn abou twhere 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.
We are headed to Baltimore this morning on an early train. Yesterday while meeting with Queens Farm we got a call from Tony Geraci (soon to be dubbed the US Dinner Man?!), Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Baltimore City Public Schools. He prepared us for our reception at the train station in Baltimore, where we will be greeted by a camera crew from a Baltimore City High School. The students are excited to meet us and we are looking forward to a productive day! We’re going to have lunch prepared by high school students in the culinary program as well as visit with Greg Strella, the Farm Manager of the Great Kids Farm, actually owned by the school system.
More to come tomorrow.