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distribution networks also create jobs while keeping small farmers economically and environmentally viable, explains Bustos. Local agriculture fuels strong communities and fresh local foods help children thrive. In the Pacific Northwest, AmeriCorps volunteer Emma Brewster works with the Real Food Challenge, a national youth-based program that encourages colleges and universities to shift 20 percent of their food budgets to farm-fresh, locally sourced foods. Brewster works with Lucy Norris, project manager for the Puget Sound Food Network, which creates opportunities beyond farmers’ markets for local area farmers to connect with regional processors, distributors and end users, including Seattle Public Schools.

Hands in the Dirt

Regardless of occupation, many people feel a natural urge to work with the soil and witness the miracle of seeds sprouting new life. Rose Hayden-Smith, Ph.D., a garden historian and a designated leader in sustainable food systems at the University of CaliforniaDavis, points out that home, school, community and workplace victory gardens established during World War II succeeded in producing about 40 percent of our nation’s vegetables. In both World Wars, she says, our national leadership “recognized that food and health were vital national security issues.” They still are today. Melinda Hemmelgarn, a.k.a. the Food Sleuth (FoodSleuth@gmail.com), is a registered dietitian and award-winning writer and radio host, based in Columbia, Missouri. She co-created F.A.R.M.: Food, Art, Revolution Media – a Focus on Photography to Re-vitalize Agriculture and Strengthen Democracy to increase advocacy for organic farmers (Enduring-Image.blogspot.com). Learn more at Food Sleuth Radio at kopn. org.

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2012 Farm Bill Update by Melinda Hemmelgarn

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he single piece of legislation known as the Farm Bill currently contains $90 billion in taxpayer funding and significantly affects farming, conservation, energy, and the quality and price of the food on our plates. When the bill comes up for renewal every five years, the public has a chance to voice support for a greener, healthier, more sustainable food and farming system. Sign up for Farm Bill updates and action alerts from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (website below), and talk with members of Congress about concerns. Marydale DeBor, who works to improve food quality in Connecticut, recommends that citizens align with farm advocacy organizations. “Advocacy is the single most important need now, around the Farm Bill and state policies,” she says.

Did you know? n Most Farm Bill dollars support food assistance programs, namely food stamps or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), our nation’s largest safety net against hunger. In 2012, SNAP is projected to consume 75 percent of the total Farm Bill budget. n Most SNAP benefits are spent in supermarkets and convenience stores. SNAP can be used at farmers’ markets, but only by those that accept electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. In 2011, SNAP’s $11 million of the program’s total $71 billion benefits were redeemed at farmers’ markets nationwide, directly benefiting local farmers. n Crop insurance is the second-largest Farm Bill budget item. n The majority of subsidy payments go to large farms producing corn, cotton, wheat, rice and soybeans, which helps explain why soda is cheaper than 100 percent fruit juice, and corn-fed feedlot beef costs less than organic, grass-fed beef. n An improved Farm Bill would provide participation incentives for conservation, beginning farmers, local food economies and organic agriculture, and better align agriculture with public health.

Learn more about the 2012 Farm Bill at: n Environmental Working Group and EWG Action Fund ewg.org n Food Fight: The Citizen’s Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill, by Daniel Imhoff WatershedMedia.org/foodfight_overview.html n Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy iatp.org n National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition SustainableAgriculture.net

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“Natural Awakenings” Magazine, March 2012 issue  

“Natural Awakenings” Magazine, March 2012 issue. The full-color monthly magazine about green, local, organic, wholistic, natural, fun, healt...

“Natural Awakenings” Magazine, March 2012 issue  

“Natural Awakenings” Magazine, March 2012 issue. The full-color monthly magazine about green, local, organic, wholistic, natural, fun, healt...

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