Ending Food Waste – Feeding People

Bill Palladino, Food Policy, food waste

FoodWasteHero2

The amount of food wasted in our nation is stunning.

 

“In the United States, 31 percent — or 133 billion pounds — of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels in 2010 went uneaten,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

From the point of view of a food business, this statistic erodes already slim profit margins. The USDA goes on to say, “the estimated value of this food loss (in 2010) was $161.6 billion using retail prices.” To bring that down to earth for us, here’s a quote ‘80’s television icon Mr. T, “That ain’t no chump change!”

A “Fresh” Perspective

Economy, Film Reviews, Food Policy, Learn More, Tricia Phelps

A Review of the Film “Fresh”

By Tricia Phelps

There are countless documentaries making comments on the current state of our food system. They each differ in varying degrees of tragedy, omission, honesty and optimism.  “Fresh” became part of that ever growing panoply of films in 2009.  The film’s director, Ana Sofia Joanes, sets “Fresh” apart by providing a well-balanced account of the dismal realities in industrial agriculture while layering the narrative with promising, inspiring and practical solutions that are beginning a movement.

Infographic – Food Waste

Bill Palladino, Food Policy, Infographic, Learn More

By Bill Palladino

I like this one.  My family tries very, very, hard to narrow our waste stream.  It’s evident every week on our street.  Our neighborhood’s garbage service uses bright red bags, and in the snow we’ve had they stand out.  Our home only has a red bag in front of it once a month or less often.  On the other hand, our recycling is always piled much higher than the neighbor’s.  We even have two bins to everyone else’s single one.

BOOK REVIEW: Michael Pollan’s “Cooked”

Bill Palladino, Book Reviews, Books/Films, Food Policy, Learn More

By Bill Palladino

“Alone among the animals, we humans insist that our food be not only ‘good to eat’ —tasty, safe, and nutritious— but also, in the words of Claude Levi-Strauss, ‘good to think,’ for among all the many other things we eat, we also eat ideas.”  

Bob Russell Resilience Reading Project

Books/Films, Economy, Food Policy, James Russell, Learn More
Taste the Local Difference and the food & farming movement in northern Michigan would be in a very different place if it were not for the passion and skill of Bob Russell.   His passing this summer left a hole in our communities.  This post from MLUI’s James Russell announcing the launch of a new initiative designed to honor Bob’s memory and keep the resilience passion burning in our region.

Small Farm Conference Coming to TC

Event, Food Policy

For the first time in it’s 14 year history the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference (SFC) will be held in Traverse City.  The conference, held in Grayling for many years, has outgrown that facility with almost 800 attendees in 2013.  This year attendance is expected to reach 1000 participants as the single-day event moves to the Grand Traverse Resort at the northern edge of the Traverse City community, in Acme.

Where’s the Local Beef? Beefstock TC

Bill Palladino, Economy, Event, Food Policy, Proteins

Beeftock TC 2013 – By Bill Palladino

Pigstock TC 2013 stretched itself across three days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in late October. Pigstock hopes to instill in people knowledge of the slaughter. A connection to the beast(s) we tend to consume without understanding whence they came.
Michael Ruhlman described the first part of the slaughter experience during 2012 Pigstock, “The pig was lifted mechanically with a tractor lifter and brought to a bathtub filled with 180°F water, in which the hog was scalded, then removed to a table to have its fur scraped off. It was then relifted so that Christoph could demo the dressing, doing it slowly, showing us all the organs and viscera as they emerged, all of it to be used. When the pig had been sawn and cleaved in two, Christoph cut a strip of backfat from the pig, then cut small pieces of it for us to taste. Warm, chewy but tender, neutral in flavor, succulent. It was kind of like taking communion of the pig.” (Read his entire post from 2012 here.)

Food Infographic To Make You Think

Economy, Food Policy

This infographic comes to us from our good friends at the Fair Food Network.  Oran Hesterman, executive director of the Detroit based nonprofit, hired renown economist Michael Shuman to research the potential impacts of shifting the local food economy in Michigan up by 20%.  This graphic is part of a summary of Shuman’s report that tries to shed some light on the power of a local food economy.

The big thing to look for here is the opportunity represented by these numbers.  How can we as a community of food producers seek to fill some of these niches, and in so doing capture a rich market that we are otherwise simply throwing away?

20% Shift Infographic

 

To view the full sized PDF of the above infographic, please click here.

GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Food

Bill Palladino, Food Policy, Learn More

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This story originally appeared as part of the Ag Forum section of the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

-by Bill Palladino  (Bill Palladino is Senior Policy Specialist for the Michigan Land Use Institute)

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine our Great Lakes state, from Detroit to the Sault, and across the U.P. to Ironwood.  We’re a big, proud, two-handed state.  For an entire century we’ve been known for greatness, and the one proud thing to rule them all is the great American automobile.  It started here, innovated here, and is still struggling to reemerge here.  Remember Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad, “I got a question for you, what does this city know about Luxury?”

As you stroll through your own town each day, look at the streets.  If they’re like mine they’re lined one upon another with big, glorious, American steel beasts, pickup trucks, SUVs, and big old sedans.  Sure, there’s a growing infestation of smaller, more svelte Asian and European invaders, but Michigan lives by its“Big Three,” and for these we’ll fight to the death. Just up the block from me is Hagerty Insurance, where there’s always a brightly polished reminder of better days on display. These Fords and Chryslers and GMs all harken back to a time when tires came from rubber trees and steel was hacked from the Earth by Yoopers singing Woody Guthrie songs. We’re proud of this heritage. Our fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers labored to provide Michigan this great story.  Are you singing “This Land is Our Land” yet?

Now, imagine if you will a time when we walk down these same streets and the tables are turned.  Instead of mostly American made cars, the parking lots are filled with 95 percent imports, with only a small smattering here and there of the American breeds.  For whatever reason, Michiganders are happy to ignore our homegrown brands. How might it make you feel that all this great American genius was pushed to the wayside?  How would it effect the emotional state of that relative of yours who once worked for GM?  How would our economy be impacted?  Are you angry yet?  O.K., now take a breath.

What if this economic and social catastrophe had already occurred but in another sector of the economy?  What if we as consumers had already turned our backs?  Well we have, and I’m talking about our local food economy.  The story’s the same , and so is the cast of characters: hard-working, values-based, dirt-under-the-fingernails pioneers.  But there are no rock stars pumping their fists to regenerate the lost economy of locally grown food.  Neither Kid Rock, nor Clint Eastwood, has ever pitched ads for Bardenhagen apples or American Spoon jam.

Go to your favorite grocery store and look at the shelves.  Where is the locally grown food?  Oh, it’s there, but it’s buried behind an insipid blur of commodity-scaled products with glitzy labels and expensive ad campaigns. Why is it so difficult to find local produce here during the first week of October, when bin-fuls from Washington, California, New York, and Mexico are plentiful?  Why, when we live in the second most diverse agricultural state in the U.S., do we struggle to buy the very products that are grown virtually in our own backyards?  The answer of course is a complex one.

Many of us in northwest Michigan are tired of waiting for the right answer. We’re about to go out on a limb and try something on our own, something new.  Over the next few months we’ll be testing a series of marketing strategies to help sell more locally grown food from Manistee to the straights of Mackinac.  You’ll be seeing a new brand emerge in your local grocery stores, starting with Tom’s Food Markets and then spreading outward. The Taste the Local Difference (TLD) name and logo will soon begin to appear on your grocer’s shelves to help differentiate local products from the mass of others crowding them out.

Imagine a day when you look down the aisles at your neighborhood grocery store, and at a glance know which products were grown or made here.  This vision is part of our strategy to get northwest Michigan farms to provide 20% of all the region’s food by the year 2020.  I can see the TV ad now.  It’s being voiced-over by Eminem. As the camera moves in slowly filling the screen with images of swaying green fields and orchards, you can hear the proud angst in his voice as he says, “This is northwest Michigan, and this is what we do.”