Some bad news:
In 2008 more than 50% of all US harvested cropland grew only two crops – corn and soybeans and more than 40% of the food calories consumed worldwide came from just three crops: wheat, corn and rice.
30% of Detroit residents receive food stamps, but 92% of Detroit’s food stamp retailers offer few or no fresh fruit or vegetables.
The average plate of food eaten in our homes or restaurants travels 1,500 miles from where the food is grown. Our food system consumes 10.3 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce 1.4 calories of food energy.”
And some good news:
There are now 8000 farm to school programs across the US. Eight years ago there were only 4. There are now 6000 farmers’ markets in the US three times as many as in 1995. 330 hospitals in the US and Canada have pledged to purchase food that is grown according to Fair Food principles.
In recent years a number of books and films have documented the dangers of our current food system, and a number of those have been featured on Free forum. Just as you can’t alter the course of climate change by simply switching to efficient light bulbs, today’s guests believe that you can’t fix the broken food system by simply growing a backyard garden. It requires redesigning our food system.
My first guest, ORAN HESTERMAN has a new book FAIR FOOD, a guide to changing not only what we eat, but how our food is grown, packaged, delivered, marketed and sold. Hesterman opens the book talking about Detroit, Michigan, an unlikely beacon of hope in the fight for fair food.
Prior to starting the Fair Food Network, where he is President & CEO, ORAN HESTERMAN was the inaugural president of Fair Food Foundation, leading their sustainable food systems programs. Before that, he researched and taught in the crop and soil sciences department at Michigan State University in East Lansing, and for more than 15 years he co-led the Integrated Farming Systems and Food and Society Programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, during which time the Foundation seeded the local food systems movement with over $200 million. FAIR FOOD is his first book.
My second guest LEILA CONNERS, a founder of Tree Media in Santa Monica, is a producer of URBAN ROOTS, a documentary on the food revolution taking place in Detroit. Directed by Detroit-native Mark McInnis the film tells the powerful story of a group of dedicated Detroiters working tirelessly to fulfill their vision for locally-grown, sustainably farmed food in a city where people — as in much of the county — have found themselves cut off from real food and limited to lifeless offerings of fast food chains, mini-marts, and grocery stores stocked with processed food from thousands of miles away.
LEILA CONNERS is Founder and President of Tree Media Group. Conners is director, producer, and writer on THE 11TH HOUR, as well as the short films “Global Warning” and “Water Planet” (all with Leonardo DiCaprio). She was Associate Editor at New Perspectives Quarterly and Global Viewpoint, focusing on international politics and social issues. She is producer of URBAN ROOTS.
fairfoodbook.org, fairfoodnetwork.org, urbanrootsamerica.com, treemedia.com
Q&A: TOM FRANK – What’s the Matter with Kansas? / EDGAR CAHN – founder of Legal Services & Time DollarsWritten on January 10th, 2012
This will be a conversation about the state of things as we embark on 2012. I will be joined by TOM FRANK (What’s the Matter with Kansas?) and EDGAR CAHN (founder of Legal Services and Time Dollars). We will talk about their passions and projects.
In his new book, PITY THE BILLIONAIRE, Frank examines how the crash that has hurt so many millions of Americans has delivered wildly perverse political results. He gives us a diagnosis of the cultural malady that has transformed collapse into profit, reconceived the Founding Fathers as heroes from an Ayn Rand novel, and enlisted the powerless in a fan club for the prosperous.
Edgar Cahn was a serial social entrepreneur before the term was invented. In 1974, he and his wife co-founded the Legal Services Program to deliver legal services to the poor, then co-founded Antioch School of Law, where students learned through providing legal services to the poor. Two decades later Cahn created TIme Dollars, a system to bank and exchange services rather than currency.
In the larger conversation, I want to take a fairly big picture, historical, and forward-looking perspective. While I assume we will talk about global economics and international conflicts, the emphasis would be on the US. Though I assume we will talk about the fall election, I want to look more broadly.
Questions like: Where are we as a society – socially, culturally, economically, and politically? What’s working and why is it working? What are your fears and hopes for the year ahead? What stories and narratives will you be paying attention to in the next year?
Maybe something about the battle over the narrative of America’s founding and the American dream. Is there a story in which humanity turns things around?
THOMAS FRANK, a former opinion columnist for The Wall Street Journal, is the founding editor of The Baffler and a monthly columnist for Harper’s. He is the author of The Conquest of Cool; What’s the Matter with Kansas? One Market Under God; and his newest, PITY THE BILLIONAIRE.
EDGAR CAHN teaches Law and Justice, and directs the Community Service Program at the University of the District of Columbia School of Law. A co-founder with his late wife Jean Camper Cahn of the Antioch School of Law, UDC-DCSL’s predecessor; the first law school in the United States to educate law students primarily through clinical training in legal services to the poor. In the late 1980s, Professor Cahn began the Time Dollars project, a service credit program that now has more than 70 communities in the US, UK and Japan with registered programs (www.timebanks.org). He’s the author of several books, including Hunger USA, Time Dollars and No More Throw-Away People.
VAN JONES is Co-Founder and President of REBUILD THE DREAM, and a co-founder of three other successful non-profit organizations: the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change and Green For All. Jones served as the green jobs advisor in the Obama White House in 2009, and is currently a senior fellow at the Center For American Progress and a senior policy advisor at Green For All. He holds a joint appointment at Princeton University, as a distinguished visiting fellow in both the Center for African American Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is the author of The Green Collar Economy.
LESTER BROWN has been described by the Washington Post as "one of the world's most influential thinkers." After working with the Department of Agriculture in international agricultural development, Brown helped establish the Overseas Development Council, then founded the Worldwatch Institute, which plays an important role in the public's understanding of trends in our global environment with its annual State of the World report and Vital Signs. In 2001, he left Worldwatch, founded Earth Policy Institute, and continues his vital work. During a career that began with tomato farming, Brown has been honored with numerous prizes, including the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, the United Nations Environment Prize, and Japan's Blue Planet Prize, along with some 20 honorary degrees.
In his new book, WORLD ON THE EDGE: HOW TO PREVENT ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC COLLAPSE, BROWN lays out the symptoms, the diagnosis, and the cure, what he calls "Plan B". He estimates that we could solve all the world's greatest problems for $200B a year - less than a third the US defense budget - but it will take an all-out response at wartime speed proportionate to the magnitude of the threats facing civilization.