Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

FAO in Haiti: Donate a Fruit Tree

Fruit Trees for Haiti is an initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). A donation of five dollars can purchase an avocado, mango, or other fruit tree seedling for a Haitian school. The donation also covers a small amount of fertilizer, as well as watering and weeding costs for the first year. FAO hopes this project will improve children’s health and help restore the country’s degraded environment.

Click here for more information.

In the News: Herbicide-Resistant Weeds

In early May, we posted a story about herbicide-resistant weeds on the TGC blog. Concern has continued to grow throughout the scientific community, and the Associated Press recently published an article on Roundup-resistant species.

Introduced in the 1970s, Roundup has long been a staple tool of pest management for American farmers. Though Roundup is a chemical herbicide, it was widely considered less toxic than its predecessors. It also allowed farmers to reduce tilling, a significant step toward curbing erosion and fuel consumption. As many as ten plant species have evolved to survive Roundup application, however, and many are concerned that farmers will turn back to less eco-friendly methods of weed management.

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Farm & Garden: Compost in the City

Last week, The Washington Post printed a column on the value of compost in urban environments. The following question was sent to Nina Shen Rastogi, an environmental writer based in Brooklyn, New York and columnist for Slate Magazine:

“I live in an apartment in the city with zero outdoor space, and I don’t have any plants that would benefit from compost. Is there any reason at all, then, why I should be composting my food scraps?”

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DC Council Approves the Healthy Schools Act

First the bad news…

  • Nearly half the children in D.C. are overweight or obese.
  • In some parts of the District, more than 70% of residents are overweight or obese.
  • DC has the highest rate of adolescent obesity in the United States.

Depressing statistics like these were what motivated DC Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3) to take action by introducing the Healthy Schools Act. The great news is that the DC Council recently passed and funded the Act!

The Healthy Schools Act aims to improve the nutrition, health and wellness of kids in DC. Key provisions of the legislation include:

  • Raising the nutritional standard and quality of school meals by bringing in more local fruits and vegetables to school cafeterias.
  • Tripling the amount of physical and health education taught in DC schools.
  • Establish school gardens as integral components of school and public charter schools.

    The last provision is key to improving the health and nutritional status of DC school children, because we have consistently seen that kids become more enthusiastic about eating fresh, nutritious food when they are involved in the growing process.

    TGC shares the goals of the Healthy Schools Act (especially since we are based in DC), and the DC Council’s decision to pass it is a crucial first step to improving the nutrition, health, and wellness of DC school children.

    Sign the Petition to End Hunger Now

    FAO recently launched the 1 Billion Hungry online petition: http://www.1billionhungry.org/. The 1 Billion Hungry campaign aims to bring attention to the more than 1 billion people around the world who suffer from chronic hunger. Please join us in getting mad that 1 billion people in the world are hungry and sign the petition.

    Photos from the worldwide campaign are available on the 1 Billion Hungry Flickr page.

    You can also watch videos on the 1 Billion Hungry YouTube channel through this link.

    Finally, you can read FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf’s Huffington Post blog on the campaign here.

    The Growth of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds

    Farmers frequently consider weeds to be the most serious threat to their harvest.  Some experts estimate that weeds cause $95 billion a year in lost food production at a global level. Continue reading

    The Obesity-Hunger Paradox in US Cities.

    A recent article in the New York Times examines the seemingly contradictory relationship between obesity and hunger in many poor urban neighborhoods in the U.S.

     It seems counterintuitive that communities struggling with obesity could also be suffering from hunger, but this is frequently the case in poor urban neighborhoods. A recent Food Research and Action Center survey found that South Bronx, New York, a county with consistently high obesity rates, also has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the country.

    Hunger and obesity doesn’t only occur in the same neighborhood, but often afflicts the same household, and even the same person. Increasingly, the hungriest people in America today are not skinny, but overweight. This is why hunger and obesity are not parallel issues, but “flipsides of the same malnutrition coin” says Joel Berg of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

    One of the primary causes of this obesity-hunger paradox in cities is low-income households’ limited access to affordable, fresh nutritious food. Many urban neighborhoods are underserved by supermarkets that stock affordable nutritious food. However, there are usually a multitude of food-vendors that sell cheap, high-calorie foods with low nutritional value.

    As a result, this hunger-obesity problem cannot be solved by simply increasing access to food, but by increasing access to the right kinds of food.

    The Growing Connection aims to be a part of this solution by giving urban communities the opportunity to grow and consume fresh nutritious food. We work with young people, women’s groups, schools and urban farmers in several large U.S. cities to develop highly efficient and innovative urban vegetable gardens. TGC can have a particularly positive impact for children in urban neighborhoods. We have consistently seen that kids become more enthusiastic about eating healthy vegetables when they are involved in the growing process.