Real Food Challenge update

It has been an active semester for the Real Food Challenge Team (RFCT) at Fort Lewis College (FLC). Attempting to move the Real Food Challenge (RFC) forward at FLC has been the team’s top priority since last fall when they began working on the initiative. Specifically, the RFC is a nation-wide campaign that aims to provide students with particular resources to gain the interest of their respective college toward purchasing 20 percent of their annual food budget of “real food”. Real food refers to food that meets particular sets of criteria found in four categories: fair, local, humane and ecologically-sound.

Real Food Challenge Team members promote Real Food Day, a meal which provided local foods to students made possible by the partnership of the school's food vendor, Sodexo, and the EC.

Real Food Challenge Team members promote Real Food Day, a meal which provided local foods to students made possible by the partnership of the school’s food vendor, Sodexo, and the EC.

Thus far, the team has set their agenda to achieve this goal by continuously meeting to form projects, goals and education around the challenge, in conjunction with staff from the Environmental Center (EC), FLC and Sodexo (the college’s dining hall food service. Preceding the current semester, the team was fortunate enough to have FLC Environmental Studies intern Laura Owens evaluate a semester’s worth of Sodexo’s food purchases for FLC using what is known as the real food calculator. With the systematic methodology and rigorous research of the calculator, she revealed that, currently, Sodexo purchases about 4.6 percent of real food per semester.

With a bit over 15 percent more real food needed to be bought annually to reach the overall goal of the challenge, the team is continuing to seek innovation and progress. This is a two-fold process: they’ll look to expand on educational type events for students, faculty, community and other college staff members, while doing additional research and analysis aimed at better efficiency in general and enhancing the processes by which they measure their results. The former of these has been somewhat more practically-driven as of recently. For example, on October 24, 2013, the RFCT, EC and Sodexo, put together a real food meal event at FLC. Essentially, the lunch showcased mostly a small variety of local meats and vegetables, as well as some foods which met the other four criterion of the RFC. From the staff of Sodexo to the students of FLC, the day made important connections, and illuminated the progress the RFC is making at the FLC campus. The latter of these tasks has involved reaching out to leaders within the RFC and student leaders from other campuses across the country, which the RFCT can utilize in terms of their successes and failures, etc.

Currently, the RFCT is work on planning more real meal days, including one more this

Sodexo sourced ingredients for the Food Day meal from local Durango farmers, meeting at least one of the four criterion of the Real Food Challenge.

Sodexo sourced ingredients for the Food Day meal from local Durango farmers, meeting at least one of the four criterion of the Real Food Challenge.

semester in December. They are also working on creating a press kit and a webpage. In doing so, they will open a new wave of media outreach which should help spread the word about the RFC here at FLC. Furthermore, a few team members have shifted their focus upon contacting other schools committed to the RFC to learn from their experiences. So far, what they have found is that is that the RFCT and EC may want to consider working on further analyzing the calculator results to highlight the campaign and raise its awareness. Similarly, it has been found that more education and learning opportunities need to be provided to the Sodexo staff in order to foster a stronger relationship with the FLC food vendor. Needless to say, the following weeks and semester ought to be full of busy and important work for this team.

By C.J. Clayton, RFCT member

Community comes together to help local farms

September’s destructive weather greatly devastated many of Durango’s local farmers but has also brought the community together to salvage Durango’s local food supply.

On Wednesday, September 18, heavy hail destroyed many of Durango farmers’ crops, including Adobe House Farm and Linnaea Farms. A lot of these local farms supply the farmer’s market and local restaurants. Linda Illsley of Linda’s Local Food Café, whose mission on their webpage is to use mainly local and Colorado grown organic food, stepped up to help her local farmers. Illsley got a call from Linley Dixon of Adobe House Farm, that their main crash crop, tomatoes, that Illsley was going to buy from Linley, was hit by the hail.

“We didn’t assess the damage until about Thursday

Linda Illsley (right) from Linda’s Local Foods working with Linley Dixon (left) of Adobe House, at the Durango Farmer’s Market. - The Independent

Linda Illsley (right) from Linda’s Local Foods working with Linley Dixon (left) of Adobe House, at the Durango Farmer’s Market. – The Independent

morning, and it was about 9:30 when I called Linda and said it’s all gone,” said Dixon.

It was not all gone and there was still some hope. Illsely contacted Beth LaShell, coordinator of the Old Fort, to spread the word that at least a 1,000 pounds of tomatoes needed to be harvested, and they needed urgent help. LaShell sent out an e-mail to Fort Lewis Students and that e-mail was forwarded by Rachel Landis, coordinator of the Fort Lewis Environmental Center. The e-mail recruited students to help both Adobe House Farm and Linnaea Farms.

“Adobe House Farm’s crops were destroyed by hail and they are gleaning as much produce as possible today.  Linley Dixon (owner) estimates at least 1,000 pounds of tomatoes need to be harvested today,” said LaShell’s e-mail.

About 50 people came out that Thursday to help harvest tomatoes at Adobe House Farms, and about 25 people came on Friday to help some more. They got all of the tomatoes out of the field before they would have started rotting and saved about 5,000 pounds of tomatoes. A majority of the tomatoes were green with holes in them and would have begun to ripen in the next couple of weeks. A buyer of Adobe House’s tomatoes and the restaurant Zia Taqueria helped support the farm and lent out their walk-in cooler to help preserve the tomatoes.

They then had three or four days to run the tomatoes from the cooler and into the freezer before the tomatoes would begin to rot. Illsley lent out her restaurant to be used as a place to chop up the tomatoes and save them in her freezer. Each day about 10 people, who Illsley had contacted on Facebook and through LaShell, helped out in the kitchen chopping tomatoes for that whole weekend.

“It was amazing. I think the take home lesson for me was to ask for help more often. I think a lot of people, even when the farm was ripped to shreds when they got there, were blown away at how pretty it still was. I think people still want access to farms. I think finding a way to give them access is a goal for the future,” said Dixon.

Daniel Amermam, a Fort Lewis Student, was one of the volunteers that responded to the call for help. He volunteered for two hours with other students and volunteers, picking tomatoes and other leafy crops at Adobe House Farms. Amermam did not personally receive the e-mail but was told by a friend what had happened, so he decided to lend a helping hand.

“I wish I would have known about it sooner. I probably would have gone earlier,” said Amermam.

He plans to do what he can to help again in the future.

“It was great to see the smiles on their faces and the gratitude they were giving us. I got a free meal at Linda’s afterwards,” said Amermam.

Fellow students had similar experiences and students of the Fort Lewis Environmental Center have decided to form a response team that will keep helping local farms and communities in a crisis.

“Based off some of the folks’ experiences going to help clean up the farms that were destroyed by our last hail and mudslide event, they saw how necessary it is to be able to mobilize a large amount of people quickly to help support our community. So they want to get a whole group of folks together at the click of an e-mail,” said Landis.

The experience of the community coming out to help their local farms shows that people want local foods and want to support their farmers and keep them in business. Local restaurants collaborating with the farms and the relationship between Linda’s Local Foods and Adobe House Farm, demonstrates how the community can work together to recover from a devastating event.

Adobe House Farm didn’t know what to do with their unripened tomatoes they gleaned.

“We will make chutneys. We will make salsas. We will figure something out,” said Illsley.

With the help of volunteers and local restaurants, none of the damaged tomatoes of Adobe House Farm was gone to waste.

“It was just one of those magical moments, when the community came together to support somebody that needed the help. It also triggered a conversation about food waste and lack of access by certain populations, like students at the Fort Lewis College. And, how we really did have the capacity to create abundance if we just organized,” said Illsley.

An example of an organization that tries to provide free food is the Grub Hub, a food bank that gets donations to give free food to Fort Lewis College students. They get most of their donations from Manna Soup Kitchen. Colin Clausen, volunteer at the Grub Hub, said that their amount of fresh produce has decreased compared to last year. This may be accounted for by the weather and the farms hit by the weather.

“Last year we were still getting produce into November, and we’ve already stopped, and it’s October,” said Clausen.

Even with the devastating weather that hit Durango, it was shown that food could be salvaged and supplied to the community. With more organization and help from volunteers to local farms, abundance could be created to provide for the town of Durango and the Fort Lewis College community. Farmers struggle to stay in business in Durango, and with the community’s help and the farmers willing to ask for help, more local food can be provided to the whole town.

“Financially it is a struggle. You are lucky to make a couple thousand at the end of the summer of really hard work. We had some savings also, but we all worked a couple jobs in the winter just so we could farm and do what we love,” said Dixon.

 

By Madison Chamberlain, Reporter at “The Independent,” Fort Lewis College’s student newspaper

Different Cultures’ Perspectives on Human-Animal Relationships

As a human, are you always thinking about animals? I believe humans cannot live without animals because we depend on them to eat and survive. However, the animals humans eat differ. Each person has his or her symbol animals, which are determined by the environment around the person. Japanese people live on an island, so they mainly eat fish. As many people know, the famous Japanese cuisine is sushi. Native American people live in the middle of a continent, so they eat animals, which live in the continent. Depending on the tribe, the animals they eat are different.

Buffalo and Lakota People:

I chose to write about the relationship between buffalo and Native Americans because I went to a Buffalo Harvest with the Native American Center. Before I went there, I have never seen the killing of animals except killing fish. When people eat the buffalo, they pray for him and express their appreciation for him. I felt how important buffalos are for Native people. “As the buffalo roamed the Plains, so did the Lakota. The entire existence of the people centered around the buffalo’s epic migration across the vast plains of North America – from Canada to Mexico; the Pacific Northwest to the Appalachian Mountains” (Prairie Edge June 16 2011).

http://www.prairieedge.com/tribe-scribe/the-heart-soul-of-the-lakota-the-buffalo/

Grazing buffalo

Photo used by Fair Use.

Fish and Japanese People:

Japanese people cannot separate from fish. For me, fish plays an important part in my food. I grew up in the countryside of Japan. When I went to my grandparents’ or relatives’ house, I always ate fresh raw fish with my family. I learned how to gut fish on a school field trip. I was always told by my mother to eat fish and not eat too much beef or pork for my health.

Since the past animals have supported the lives of humans. In the past, people knew how important the animals were. However, I think people have forgotten this and many people choose to eat unhealthy junk food. They are not eating “real food”. Real food is defined by the as local/community-based, fair trade, ecologically sound and humane. There is an organization, “Real Food Challenge”, which requires 20 % real food in our campus by 2020. Our sustainability team started working to educate students in Fort Lewis College. I want to teach students in Fort Lewis College how important the real food is.

http://www.realfoodchallenge.org/

By Hanae Miyabo

The Truth About Hunting

a gun used for hunting deer

Photo used by Fair Use.

The subject of taking an animal’s life can certainly stir a lot of emotion in people, especially some supporters of the present day environmental movement. Infringing upon an animal’s right to life goes against an ethic to leave nature as it is. So, it seems that in order to be a “good” conservationist, a human being must leave nature unscathed, right? Well I’m here to keep those emotions stirred, by saying that this idea is very much WRONG.

Now, by saying some supporters of the conservation movement frown upon hunting certainly does not mean this is the feeling for all. The focus here is more on animal rights activists and those with similar beliefs. The reasons for why animal rights activists have developed their opinions are understandable, mostly a result of extremely evident mistreatment of animals. However, the fact is that people have known for a long time that hunting is a vital relationship between man and nature. For example, having grown up in an area of the world where hunting meant whether or not food would be on the table during the winter months, I learned to respect what nature has provided. For thousands of years, our ancestors relied upon a diet derived from hunting and gathering and for the most part those ancestors understood the importance of our relationship with the wilderness. Utmost respect and homage was paid to the earth and the gifts it provided us with, even when the taking of an animal’s life was involved. Unfortunately, that ethic was largely lost during the shift from gathering our own food to being able to buy it from somebody else.

Nowadays, it is easy to simply drive down to City Market and buy a pound of beef for $3.75 so it is hard to believe there was once a time when humans actually had to work for their food. Being part of the local foods team at the Fort Lewis Environmental Center has given me the opportunity to pursue a goal to reverse human being’s thinking back to what it once was. Hunting as a sustainable practice may sound like an oxymoron to the uneducated mind but to those who understand the importance of having a full freezer, this claim could be attested. Think of the amount of resources conserved by taking one less pound of grass fed, water consuming, packaged and fossil fuel burning (as a result of shipment) beef off of the average U.S. family’s dinner table. Not only can the practice of sustainable hunting benefit the environment but also the wallets of U.S. families.

There are many arguments and variables opposing an opinion like mine, yet the fact still remains that hunting could eventually lead to a stronger local food system in communities all over the world. It is my goal to bring a better understanding of how hunting can be a means of having stable, sustainable and secure means of putting food on the table to the Durango community and similar communities. Is it possible to polarize the two clashing mindsets regarding the ethics of hunting? Like every other progressive idea, it will take time and energy to reach a consensus.

– Hunter Mallinger

Canning Salsa

Canning Food

Canning Food

Canning food is important in more than one way. Canning use to be very important tradition in many families in the past.  Food preservation or canning was a way of life for many people. There is a gap in cultural knowledge of canning food because we are so depended on industries to can food for us. We depend on Mass Production and Mass Transportation to deliver food to us from 100 of miles away. But we can change all that if we bring back the tradition of canning food and being less depended on the Food industry for the food we eat.

Canning is also called Natural Storage because you can preserve fruits and vegetables in their natural state. It is an excellent way to store food you’ve grown on your own. Nuts, beans, peas, and grains store well in their natural state. An interesting fact that everybody should know is that you can store potatoes, winter squash, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes in cool places for 6 months!

The canning process can be fun, you can do it by yourself or you can can with friends and make it an activity to do every other month or when you pick the foods you’ve grown to store. To can you can use many different methods but the easiest and most popular is the Boiling Water Bath or Stem Canning process, this process is great for preserving high acid foods like; fruits, jams, pickles and jellies. For this process you have to boil water to 212 degrees (F). Using a Pressure Canner is the best way to process low acid foods such as; meats, beans, and vegetables. The Pressure Canner can reach temperature as high as 240 degrees (F), which is needed because high temperatures in both processes are needed to kill off bacteria that cause food to spoil.

We decided to make and can salsa because it seemed quick, easy and fun; which it was.  We used the Boiling Water Process to can the salsa, because it was the fastest and easiest. The first step we did was make the salsa of course, the second step was to boil water and place the jars and lids in the pot for 5 minutes to sterilize them, next we poured the salsa in the jar leaving ¼ of space at the top, next we made sure there was no air bubbles in the jar, and we cleaned the jar and rim so no bacteria well form, then we place the lids on top and sealed it, and last but not least we boiled the jar with salsa in it and we were done.

It was a fun experience learning how to can salsa and learning the importance of canning food. Canning helps you eat in season and extends your season without having to buy food that was transported from another country. Eating in season is also healthier and better for you. Everyone should learn how to can because it fun, and a great way to bring friends and family together for a great night of canning foods.

YES YOU CAN CAN!

~ Tamara Sandoval

My Experience at the Home Grown Local Food Retreat

Homegrown Food Retreat, Keynote speaker Andy Nowak.

This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend Durango’s Homegrown Local Food Retreat, which was put together by the Environmental Center’s local foods team, as well as numerous other students and community members. The food retreat was not only educational and informative, but also featured a lot of tasty foods. It was great learning about the importance of eating locally grown foods, and even better getting to eat them.

The food retreat kicked off on Friday night, with a lecture by Andy Nowak from Colorado Farm to School. Andy did a great job of highlighting the work that he and his organization have done to bring locally grown foods into public schools, particularly in the Denver area. It was very impressive to see the progress that he and Colorado Farm to School have made in both spreading consciousness of local food and sustainability, and making local healthy foods available to all students. One of the major points Andy made was that anyone could get involved with the food sustainability movement in schools. Many people are very enthusiastic about helping their community schools flourish, and are willing to put time into efforts such as taking care of community gardens for schools. This lecture was very informative and inspiring, and hopefully it got people interested in pushing local sustainable food systems in schools.

Saturday was full of informative lectures, workshops, and panels devoted to linking community members in their passion for growing and eating local foods. One of the major highlights of the morning was Janine Fitzgerald’s lecture titled “Why We Can’t Afford Not to Eat Locally”. Janine Fitzgerald, Professor of Sociology at FLC, delivered a highly thought-provoking and inspiring lecture on how eating locally is absolutely imperative, and how we can take a proactive role in our future by focusing on our local food system. Janine brought up the often overlooked issue of Peak Oil, and just how dependent our current agricultural, political, and economic systems are on cheap oil. As the amount of cheap oil available begins to decline, we could see collapse or crises, and in order to feed ourselves, eating local food will become not only more sustainable but a practical necessity. She stressed that no matter what we do, eventually eating locally will ultimately be our only choice, and in order to create a better future we must begin to take a proactive role in sustaining our relationships with the earth, our food and local farmers. The quicker we begin to localize our economies and food systems, the better off we will be in the end. Professor Fitzgerald ended her speech with a poem that she wrote.

My personal favorite out of the workshops I attended was the one given by Katrina Blair of Turtle Lake Refuge. Katrina provided an abundant amount of information on local wild plants that not only can be eaten but also provide a tremendous amount of sustenance and nutrition. She emphasized that harvesting these wild plants could easily save a person from having to buy expensive supplements, as many of these plants were chock-full of nutrition and essential vitamins and minerals. Among these were Dock, Dandelion, Mustard Greens, Grass, and Clover. It was very interesting that many of the plants she mentioned were considered by many to be weeds, even though they provide so much nutrition. Clearly we need to become more knowledgeable about the wild plants around us, and learn to nurture them rather than seeing them as invasive or something to be eliminated.

Next was lunch. Several different soups were available, each of which were excellent and nourishing. I was able to sample each. Also available was a very tasty frittata, and a huge selection of greens. Almost everything was grown locally and tasted great. I’m glad I didn’t miss out on this meal, as it was the best meal I’ve had in some time.

In the afternoon I attended a workshop given by Katy Pepinski, Andy Nowak and Erin Jolley, which dealt with eating locally on a budget. They gave many helpful examples of meals and recipes that can be made using local foods, and how these foods can be obtained at reasonably low prices. This workshop was particularly useful for anyone on a budget, and provided a lot of practical knowledge.

After a quick break, there was an interactive panel working with Colorado Farm to School. Andy Nowak, Krista Garand, Jim Dyer, and Kim Cotta all shared their experience and expertise with working with Farm to School and answered questions from the audience. Each person had a unique perspective to bring to the table from their work and helped to give people ideas on how they could get involved with similar projects and issues.

The last major educational event of the day dealt with sustainable snacking, and was given by Jess Kelley.  Her presentation brought a lot of things to mind which I hadn’t really thought about. She opened up the slide show with a picture of Tostitos corn chips and salsa, as an example of a non-sustainable snack. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised, as I had never really thought of chips and salsa as being either unhealthy or unsustainable, yet Jess elucidated us on how everything from the genetically modified corn seeds used, unhealthy oils, and even gasoline were found in the product. Instead of snacks that use GMO’s or contain a lot of sugar, she gave us recipes for meatballs and instructions on growing sprouts. Both of these choices can provide a lot of protein and can be quite healthy and sustainable, as well as easy to make or grow.

All in all, the Food Retreat was something I’m glad I was able to go to. Everything from the delicious local foods to the guest speakers, workshops and panels provided a valuable experience. I learned a lot about food, plants, and the environment, and got to eat in the process. The workshops brought up a lot of new ideas that I hadn’t really considered, and they were all quite thought-provoking. Now that I’ve gotten to experience the food retreat, I think I’ll definitely try to be there again next year!

Randy Newkirk

Check out more pictures of this event here.

What’s the Local Food Team Up To?

The local food team is hard at work planning a Food Retreat at for the end of Febuaray which will focus on the many different ways to be a local food advocate in Durango. The retreat will begin with a speaker and then contuinue through the weekend with speakers and workshops. The Local food team is also working with the sociology department’s “Grub Hub” (food bank) to try incorperating local produce and products.  The Local Food Team with be teaming up with Education Outreach to bring local food to students in the dorms.

Growing Partners Presents Home Grown: Cultivating Your Role in the Local Food System

Mark WInne

Friday, February 25th marks the start of an eye opening weekend about the role we all play in our local food system. The event is kicked off with keynote Speaker Mark Winne discussing “Food, Freedom, and Authority: Who Controls the Food We Eat”, and everyone who cares about their food or community should be in attendance. This is taking place in Noble Hall room 130 on the Fort Lewis College campus. The following day, Saturday the 26th, will be a full day retreat with workshops and conversations centered on local food and bringing out your inner food advocate. The skills gained through this event are applicable at home, with friends, and in the community.

This event is a huge landmark for the local food crusade for many reasons, one of the main ones being that if we as a people ever hope to control our food resources then we need to start at home, today. This event is dedicated to educating the public on how much power they have and how much of an affect they have in the grand scheme of things; it’s a big one.

Every person plays a huge part in the food system as not just a consumer but as a producer also. Its important that we all realize this and cultivate the inner food advocate inside. Attendance on Friday is encouraged to everyone! To attend the retreat Saturday you must RSVP. For more information contact Stacey Carlson, head of the Local Food team at smcarlson@fortlewis.edu.

Local Food Team Update

The food team just finished sheet mulching the garden and are preparing to make it into a garden co-op for students at Fort Lewis College in this next spring. Email Coordinator Ashley Moody at ammoody@fortlewis.edu if you are interested.

The Sociology Club, Center for Civic Engagement, Manna Soup Kitchen, and the food team, are working to bring a food bank pantry into the Sociology lounge (bottom of Berndt Hall).

This will be open for students with their skycards to come pick up food on a weekly basis. Students are also assisting the Garden Project of Southwest Colorado on the back yard garden giveaway.

Volunteers are welcome!