Hungry for Change

Dandelion Flower

This post relates to Week Six of Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability, a discussion course offered though the Northwest Earth Institute. Readings featured this week were written by Christian Schwagerl, Mark Bittman, Jonathan Bloom, Roger Bybee, Lisa Abend, Raj Patel and Anna Lappe. This week (actually a few weeks ago) was our last week, and was quickly followed by a celebration potluck a week or so later.

A few weeks ago, this six-week discussion course ended with readings and questions about waste, better ways of managing our food system and working toward change.

Our group, by this time, had settled into a comfortable rhythm together. Honest conversation came easily to us by now, and we’d long since established a common philosophy that “it’s all good.” Continue reading

Lonely Treehugger Seeks Community

White Oak

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world. ~John Muir

The air was abuzz with the drone of chainsaws today, with pieces of giant pine trees crashing to the ground. A crew of tree workers felled every last tree in the yard across the street. Among them were some of the oldest white pines in the neighborhood, a couple of which were at least 24 inches in diameter. They were by far older and larger than my own red pines. One by one, they’ve come down today, their limbs being fed into the gaping mouth of the chipper as I write. Even the dogs are unnerved by the noise and horror of it all. Continue reading

Eating for Earth

Farmstead Cheeses

This is the fifth in a series of six posts relating to the discussion series Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability. This week, we explored the challenging and sometimes frustrating world of resource depletion and the many impacts of food production on climate change and the environment. Session Five readings included work by Lisa Hymas, George Wuerthner, Sandra Postel, Tom Paulson, Robert Kunzig, Natalie Reitman-White, Sarah Mazze and Sustainable Table.

The people drawn to participate in our Hungry for Change group (perhaps predictably) are environmentally conscious by nature and are concerned about tending this planet for future generations. Continue reading

Just Food


This post relates to the fourth week in our local discussion series, Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability. This week’s articles deal with food’s complicated world of ethics and justice. Writers included: Matthew Scully, Madeline Ostrander, Peter Singer, Jim Mason, John Robbins and Barry Estabrook. Among the many benefits of this course is having my eyes opened to new writers. There’s so much good work happening!

It’s easy to turn our attention away from the disturbing, messy and sometimes horrific side of food production. We protect ourselves from this perspective; the industry protects us as well. Indeed, it would seem to be in everybody’s best interest not to talk about these things. Continue reading

A Healthy Appetite

Intuitive One

This post relates to the third week’s discussion (a little late) in Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability, a six-week discussion course made possible by the Northwest Earth Institute. This week, we read articles by Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Francis Lam, Tom Philpott, Mary Vance, Alan Greene and one from The Organic Center.

Each week, we begin with an “opener,” offered by one person who shares a thought, a memory, an object—anything relating to our work in this course. It gets us thinking and talking. Beth, as an opener for Week 3, brought a bag full of packaged foods from her home cupboards, most of which were labeled “organic.” What we passed around surprised us all. One by one, we read the labels, revealing marketing claims, additives, chemicals and trans fats lurking in the fine print. Continue reading

That Calm Place

Mill Girl Statue

I traveled south this weekend to Manchester, New Hampshire for a three-day healing retreat, an experience that was to lead me into intimate lessons with a small group of women, all healing from chronic illness of one sort or another. The conversations, exercises and reflections were hard, hard work for me and others who probably also face each day with very limited energy. Amazingly, not one of us gave up in any way. We stayed with the work into the evening, each day, knowing and trusting that it was moving us to a new place of understanding our disease. More importantly, our healing. Continue reading

Chocolate Dreams?

Raw Cacao with Chile Peppers

This food stuff we’re so interested in is complicated. The facts reveal themselves layer by layer, often connecting back to layers revealed days, months or years ago. Suffice it to say, we should never take at face value messages from the mass media proclaiming the healthy virtues of any food. Dig deeper, for the nuggets of truth.

Yesterday, I read that the Mars Corporation endowed a “chocolate chair” in 1997 at the University of California at Davis: the Mars Chair in Developmental Nutrition. Continue reading

Politics of the Plate

Field at Pete's Greens

This post relates to the second week discussion of Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability, exploring food policy issues and the effect of global politics on food systems. To prepare for the discussion, we read articles by Lester Brown, Danielle Nierenberg, Mara Schechter, Marion Nestle, Daniel Pauly, Sandra Steingraber, Guari Jain, Eric Holt-Gimenez and Lucy Bernardini.

A few paragraphs into this week’s readings, I realized how little consideration I give to global issues related to food. My personal focus is just that—personal. Continue reading