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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By AJ Hughes

It’s (Still) What’s for Dinner, But Does Big Beef Deserve its Big, Bad Reputation?

February 15, 2016 |
A Limousin bull eyes the camera. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

A Limousin bull eyes the camera. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Delicious hamburgers, succulent steaks and melt-in-your-mouth brisket—all are products of the massive American beef industry. We often hear about the costs, environmental and otherwise, of producing and consuming beef—on climate change, land use and water.

But is beef really as bad as all that? Some are pointing to improved environmental outcomes for beef production, at least in industrialized nations.

So what’s the truth about beef? The answer to that question is complicated.

Beef cattle use a lot of land… Read More

To Grow Movement, California Chef Makes 100 Percent Fresh, Local Produce Menu’s Main Event

February 10, 2016 |
Fresh local produce adds a mighty splash of color to the kitchen inside Health’s Kitchen restaurant in Riverside, California. (photo courtesy Robin Meadows/Health’s Kitchen)

Fresh local produce adds a mighty splash of color to the kitchen inside Health’s Kitchen restaurant in Riverside, California. (Photo courtesy Robin Meadows/Health’s Kitchen)

For some, the word “local” can be ambiguous. But Health’s Kitchen restaurant in Riverside, California, has strict rules regarding where it obtains its produce. Ideally, it must come from farms located in the City of Riverside, and when this isn’t possible, only Riverside County farms will suffice.

“Fresh produce is the main event on the menu,” says Health’s Kitchen co-owner Robin Meadows. “There are a few restaurants that obtain some of their food locally, but we get 100 percent of our produce from local farmers.” Read More

Despite Visibility Challenges, National Survey Bullish on the Future of Food Hubs

February 3, 2016 |
Harvest is in full swing at Manakintowne Specialty Growers in Virginia, where Jo Pendergraph and her family raise specialty produce for a local food hub. A recently-released National Food Hub Survey shows optimism about the future viability of food hubs. (USDA photo)

Harvest is in full swing at Manakintowne Specialty Growers in Virginia, where Jo Pendergraph and her family raise specialty produce for a local food hub. A recently-released National Food Hub Survey shows optimism about the future viability of food hubs. (USDA photo)

Three out of four food hubs in the United States are breaking even or turning a profit. One out of three food hub operators are women, and one out of five are people of color. These statistics and more were revealed in a recently-released National Food Hub Survey.

The 2015 survey, conducted by the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the Wallace Center at Winrock International, came on the heels of a similar survey in 2013. More than 150 food hubs were included in the study, which was designed to identify food hub economic growth patterns.

“The survey shows some positive trends,” says John Fisk, director of the Wallace Center. “Food hubs are emerging and are growing revenue, and continue to be opportunities for small farmers.”

Fisk, along with Jeff Farbman of Winrock International and Rich Pirog and Jill Hardy, both of Michigan State University, spoke about the survey via a webinar conducted by the National Good Food Network. Read More

California Congressman Takano Works to Unleash Power of Agriculture for Riverside’s Health and Prosperity

February 1, 2016 |
Official Portrait - Mark Takano 113th

Congressman Mark Takano, whose district includes the City of Riverside, spoke at the 2014 GrowRIVERSIDE conference and is a champion of local and sustainable food and agriculture. (photo courtesy Josh Weisz/Office of Congressman Mark Takano)

Congressman Mark Takano, a Democrat from California’s 41st congressional district, was born in Riverside, California. The longtime Riverside Community College Board of Trustees member delivered a keynote address at GrowRIVERSIDE’s “Citrus and Beyond” conference in 2014, and he understands the importance of local sustainable agriculture to the economic prosperity of Riverside.

Seedstock caught up with Congressman Takano, who answered some of our questions:

Seedstock: What are your impressions on the pursuit of the development of local food system infrastructure in your district?

Takano: We’re making good progress, but there’s more work to do. The efforts of GrowRIVERSIDE are really encouraging and I was honored to be a keynote speaker at the GrowRIVERSIDE “Citrus and Beyond” conference. It really takes buy-in from consumers to get this kind of thing going and that’s what I’ve been seeing.   Read More

Riverside Food Systems Alliance Moves Forward with Nonprofit Status, Fiscal Sponsor

January 18, 2016 |
The Riverside Food Systems Alliance is striving for a thriving and equitable local foods system in Riverside and the surrounding areas. (image courtesy Seth Wilson/Riverside Food Systems Alliance)

The Riverside Food Systems Alliance is striving for a thriving and equitable local foods system in Riverside and the surrounding areas. (Image courtesy Seth Wilson/Riverside Food Systems Alliance)

The Riverside Food Systems Alliance (RFSA) continues to evolve and mark its progress by looking back, and forward, to annual GrowRIVERSIDE conferences.

In 2014, the year of the first GrowRIVERSIDE event, consultant Richard Conlin helped the group get established. With an original focus on Riverside’s Greenbelt, Conlin assisted in hammering out goals that would positively impact the community. These include sustainable agriculture and its economic viability in and near Riverside, California; agricultural economic development and infrastructure; education about food and agriculture; equitable access to healthy foods; and public health.

These included sustainable agriculture and its economic viability in and near Riverside, California; agricultural economic development and infrastructure; education about food and agriculture; equitable access to healthy foods; and public health.

Shortly after the 2015 GrowRIVERSIDE conference, the RFSA formed a five-member board and an advisory board of more than 20 members. The organization also became a nonprofit with official 501(c)(3) status, hired a new executive director and secured a fiscal sponsor—Community Partners. Read More