Weekly Bits – Jan. 2

FIFTY YEARS FROM NOW – Ashley Dress, FoodCorps
Some books are so good that you just need to savor them, carefully devouring each page in much the same way that you would eat crème brulee; because something that special, you want to make last.

The Third Plate by Dan Barber is one such book. Barber is the chef of two New York restaurants: Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located 45 minutes outside of the city. Both restaurants feature farm-to-table menus, which source ingredients locally whenever possible.

The book is chock full of quotable sentences, but I marked my book for the first time, when I read the following quote, said by Glenn Roberts, founder of Anson Mills: Fifty years from now, that’s when my work starts having some kind of meaning. And if I drop dead this instant, it carries on, because it’s out there now.”

He’s referring to the resurgence in popularity for seeds that are bred for flavor and not just yield, which his company distributes. I was struck, however, by how similar his sentiment is to the work that we do here in northeast Iowa.

I am so completely impatient for change. Every time that a student won’t try a taste test in the cafeteria or sneaks candy or chips into his locker, that little voice inside my head wants to scream, “WHY WON’T YOU JUST EAT VEGETABLES?”

And then, I take a deep breath and remind myself that I wasn’t so different at his age. My goodness, I loved me some candy and cookies and cake…the list goes on. And, I still love those things! But, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was my love for vegetables or my willingness to try new things. I had to have education and exposure, and luckily, I have had a number of wonderful people in my life who I owe credit for giving me plenty of both of these things.

Maybe I’ll be one of these people to someone some day; maybe you will. Good work that lasts is usually not done instantaneously, and I don’t think we’ll ever be able to brush our hands and say, “We’re finished.” I do know, though, that the momentum of this movement is too great. There are organizations all across the country and world that are spreading the word and singing the praises of good, fair food, so even though I may get frustrated every once in a while, change is happening, and it’s invigorating to be caught up in its energy.  Happy New Year!  (Read the full post)


ACTIVE LIVING – Ashley Christensen
Upper Explorerland is accepting regional grant applications to fund Safe Routes to School, Recreational Trail, Scenic Byway and Transportation Enhancement projects.  Applications are due Feb. 27.


EARLY CHILDHOOD – Haleisa Johnson
A new study from the University of Minnesota suggests that 1 or 2 family meals a week can almost cut your child’s risk of being overweight in half.


2015 looks bright! With our Food & Fitness 4-H Clubs, we help youth have a voice. Voices to share their ideas, dreams and wishes to better their schools, communities, friends and families by promoting the importance of improving health and wellness in our environments.

These students are speaking up and taking action… not because they have the almighty solution to all the health issues in our country or even county, but because they want to be intentional in beginning the change making process in their communities. The teams reported at our meeting in December about the work they have been doing this school year and their plans for the second semester.  Check out the plans for your school.


FOOD SYSTEMS – Teresa Wiemerslage
At a day-long workshop January 9 in Ames, stakeholders from Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Cresco will discuss a process they’ve followed over the past year to identify activities that could grow the local food sector in their own communities. The workshop, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by the Iowa State University Community Design Lab (CDL) and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

The workshop introduces the Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit, a process to set common goals related to the local food system, and to create or connect existing activities such as school gardens, urban farms, food hubs, mobile markets and farmers markets, to accomplish those goals. The workshop will be held at Design On Main, 203 Main Street, Ames. A light breakfast and lunch will be served. Registration is requested by January 5 to provide an accurate meal count.  A  full agenda and a link to registration is here.

Travel scholarships of up to $50 per vehicle also are available for workshop attendees. For more information, contact Long at court7@iastate.edu, (515) 294-2213.


PARTNER NEWS — “I may not be a great farmer or even a slightly good one, but I do like to think that I am part of growing something because I am an Oneota Co-op member,” writes David Lester, Oneota Co-op General Manager in a recent blog.  “As a member I am “growing” a business that is conscious of the products it sells and is trying to be the most sustainable business model that it can be. Members of our Co-op are growing more opportunities for local producers and farming families in this part of the world and are also using their purchasing power to support family farmers in other parts of the world who are growing Fair-Trade items.”


As New Year unfolds, many of us think of things we would like to change in our lives. There are many different approaches to making New Year’s resolutions.  It is tempting to consider making drastic lifestyle changes to accomplish a major goal as quickly as possible. This may not be the most effective strategy; instead, consider making small, manageable steps.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *