Some food thoughts from Earth Week…

After doing our first planting last week I started some seeds to put on my east-facing window sill thats gets a ton of sun every morning. I planted rocket (rucola/arugala), coriander/cilantro (see below), lettuce and basil. So far the lettuce is doing well, the first of the bunch to germinate, and now there is a little forest of half-centimetre seedlings. At some point I imagine they will need to be transplanted because its going to get pretty crowded in there. Two of the coriander seeds have also sprouted. The rest, despite my pleading staring at the moist dark earth, are taking their time. I’m using the same containers-in-pie-tin that Keally used, which works really well for bottom-up watering. Hopefully they’ll look as healthy as Keally’s did last week before they got planted.

I kept the seedlings in this pie tray on my windowsill.

File:Chipko.jpg

For the last week, in “Food Class”, we were given some really great reading about food justice and food sovereignty. This led me to do some research online about various movements for food justice and groups of indigenous peoples facing such problems as ‘bioprospecting’. I came across this picture of women of the Chipko movement in Uttarkhand, India in the ’70’s that I wanted to share.  They are practicing Ghandian non-violent civil disobedience against tree-felling and towards reclamation of traditional forest rights for indigenous peoples.

Last Monday we all attended the much-anticipated ‘Truck Farm’ talk on campus. Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, of the King Corn film arrived at Brown a few minutes past 8, having just driven up that day from Brooklyn. Ian and Curt showed us excerpts from their ‘Truck Farm’ series. We all enjoyed the snazzy, folk-y tunes that made each video clip quite supersuper, and there were some exciting snippets of food for thought. One was the 6000 sq. ft. Eagle Street rooftop organic farm in Brooklyn, NY.

There was also the recycled plastic water bottle towers, each with plants inside. And, of course, the old Dodge pick-up, now filled with dirt and all manner of good hearty vegetables. All of our dear readers living in the New York City area, for just $20 a year you can join Curt and Ian’s CSA and get a periodical share (of tiny quantities!). So these were all exciting things for my mind to munch on. To wrap up, the Wicked Delicate Crew (ie: Curt and Ian) spoke about two upcoming projects of theirs. One was a contest to see who can grow a garden in the funkiest place (submissions by June 1st, lets get digging!) This prospect led to a most entertaining brainstorming session at our local bar Cap’n Seaweed’s later that night on what stellar idea would win us the contest. A bike helmet? Shoes? Nah, old hat. A discarded TV? Probably too full of dodgy chemicals. An old guitar? Poor instrument…. We’re still thinking, send us your suggestions! The other new idea of the truck farmers is the FoodCorps. This would be an AmeriCorps-style program to help volunteers develop farms on schools across the country, it was recently featured in a Washington Post article, here.

All of these ideas, and the swanky graphics that presented them, were all pretty exciting. However, they left us with a few questions too. How far are initiatives and media like these contributing to the ‘yuppification‘ of ‘real food’? How far are these efforts addressing parallel issues like race and culture when trying to change the way America eats? Some things that sparked these thoughts include the jarring idea of an ‘Indie’ movie theatre to jazz up a rural town like Greene, Iowa that is fast losing its residents as farming communities slowly deteriorate in many places. Another example is the graphics for the FoodCorps concept, beautiful as they are, that depict a slender girl of a particular, and not necessarily representative demographic watering some plants. We did speak to Curt about these concerns afterwards, and he recognised the risk of the direction the ‘food movement’ could take. However, maybe we also have to concede that really, these are just two guys trying to have some fun and get excited about farming, and perhaps there is only so much they can incorporate into what they do.

For more information and beautiful pictures, check out:

http://www.truck-farm.com

That’s all for now folks!

MS

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