FoodTank Highlights 13 Things Everyone Can Do in 2013

Mothers in Conflict Zones Show Remarkable Courage
You Can Support them this Mother’s Day with an IRC “Rescue Gift”

A New Vision for a Greener America Emerges as San Francisco Transforms Waste into Resources

New G Wear Eco-Friendly T-Shirts  Raise Money for West, TX Families Touched by Tragedy

nature conserve

FoodTank Highlights 13 Things Everyone Can Do in 2013

FoodTank  (www.FoodTank.org), founded by Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson, is a think tank focused on feeding the world better. They research and highlight environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity and poverty and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.

Eat more colors
The colors of fruits and vegetables are signs of nutritional content. A richly-colored red tomato has high levels of carotenoids such as lycopene, which the American Cancer Society reports can help prevent cancer, as well as heart disease. The relationship between nutrients and color is also true for other foods. Eggs that have brightly orange-colored yolks are also high in cancer-fighting carotenoids, and are more likely to be produced by healthier chickens.
 
Buy food with less packaging
Discarded packaging makes up around one-third of all waste in industrialized countries, with negative impacts on the climate, and air and water quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s analysis of different packaging for tomatoes found that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) clamshell packaging increases tomatoes’ associated carbon emissions by 10 percent. The most effective way to limit the impact of packaging waste is to prevent it. Choosing foods with less packaging can also be better for our waistlines, since highly processed foods that are low in nutrients generally use more packaging than more healthful, less processed options.

Choose seasonal produce
Earth Day offers a great opportunity to bring more seasonal fruits and vegetables into diets. Many farmers markets, including the New York City Greenmarkets, offer guides about which products are in season. Locally sourced, seasonal products can also be found at major grocery stores. Another way to get seasonal foods is to sign up for a weekly CSA, which provides a mix of fresh, seasonal produce throughout the year. Other programs, such as Siren Fish Co.’s SeaSA in San Francisco, offer seasonal meats and seafood.
 
Get in touch with agriculture
This time of year, many people are starting to plan vacations. A great way to skip the crowds, save money, and get both children and adults in touch with agriculture is to book a farm-stay through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). WWOOF runs networks in most countries around the world, offering individuals and families the opportunity to directly support small-scale family farmers. Participants spend a few days or weeks living with a host family and helping with tasks around the farm in exchange for free food and lodging.

Get creative in the kitchen
Shopping at farmers markets, which often have a wide selection of less-ordinary produce such as celeriac, sunchokes, or kohlrabi, can prevent “food ruts” by helping consumers try new foods. When looking for inspiration, many popular recipe blogs, such as smitten kitchen, allow users to search by ingredient, as well as season.. Publications such as Diet for a Small Planet and the Boston Globe’s new Sunday Supper and More e-cookbook series also offer tips on reusing leftovers to reduce food waste.
 
Invest in perennial crops
Perennial plants—plants that grow back every year—tend to hold water in soil more effectively than annuals and help prevent erosion. Their extensive roots also allow them to better access nutrients and water, reducing the need for artificial fertilizer. Researchers from the University of Illinois found that perennial prairie grasses are up to four times as water efficient as row crops such as corn and wheat.  The Land Institute works to breed perennial varieties of corn, wheat, rice, and other annual crops. 
 
Reclaim abandoned spaces
As populations continue to expand, especially in cities, reclaiming unused land and buildings for food production can help meet growing demand. One new model is The Plant, a former meatpacking plant in Chicago that has been converted into an indoor vertical farm. The Plant currently runs an aquaponics farm, growing plants without soil using waste from its man-made tilapia pools. It also offers shared kitchen space for small businesses, and other services.
 
Build local and global food communities
A great way to get involved in food and agriculture issues is with Slow Food International, an organization with more than 1,300 groups around the world called convivia. These groups support healthy, sustainable diets and traditional food cultures. In addition to local initiatives, Slow Food convivia also arrange regional and international events on important food and agriculture issues, such as Slow Food València’s recent conference on the influence of food in health and disease.

DIY
Many Do-It-Yourself (DIY) food projects are easy and fun. Turning old t-shirts into produce bags to save plastic, starting seeds in eggshells, which can then be crushed for transplanting into the soil, and DIY foods such as homemade oat or almond milk can all add a creative twist to healthy eating and sustainable agriculture. Plus, they are lots of fun for families.
 
Cook in batches and freeze for later
Planning meals in advance can help reduce stress around cooking. It also helps reduce food waste, which is a big problem in industrialized countries A great way to reduce waste and make planning easy is to cook large batches of a single meal, such as soups or curries, which can be frozen and reused on short notice later in the week. Preparing large amounts of food at once saves energy during cooking, while freezing helps prevent nutrient loss in fruits and vegetables. For those days when there is more time to cook, tools such as Love Food Hate Waste menu planner shopping list can help organize grocery trips.
 
Brighten your outlook
At the recent Warwick Economics Summit in February, Warwick University Economics Professor Dr. Andrew Oswald presented his research on health and happiness, focusing on the link between happiness and consumption of fruits and vegetables. His team of researchers found that eating more fruits and vegetables directly improves a person’s mental wellbeing, separate from other variables such as income level and how much meat a person ate. This research is supported by a similar study from the Harvard School of Public Health, which found a link between patients’ blood-level of carotenoids, compounds commonly found in colorful fruits and vegetables, and their feelings of optimism.
 
Use crop rotation
Crop rotation is an important way to preserve soil nutrients, prevent erosion, and protect against crop diseases and pests. In the central Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, agronomists at Agro Norte have developed new varieties of rice and dry beans that are well suited to the region’s tropical climate. By incorporating rice and beans into their yearly harvests, local soybean farmers can reduce the spread of soybean rust and nematodes, two of the biggest threats to their crops. The system also improves soil quality and provides jobs at times when soy and corn are not harvested.

Embrace conviviality around the table
Talking and laughing while sharing food is a uniquely human experience. Conviviality, joyful and friendly interaction, is found at markets and around the dinner table, and it supports healthy relationships and healthy bodies. The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition considers convivial food culture one of the most critical aspects of food and agriculture, alongside health, hunger alleviation, and sustainable development. Researchers from Cornell University and the University of Minnesota agree, reporting that the reported benefits of family dinners on children’s mental health and achievement levels depend on engagement with their parents at these meals.
 
For more info about FoodTank, visit www.FoodTank.org

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Mothers in Conflict Zones Show Remarkable Courage
You Can Support them this Mother’s Day with an IRC “Rescue Gift”

This is what we know about mothers in conflict zones: They are strong. They are protective.  They are loving.  They are brave.  We also know that, in times of crisis, they are the first to gather their young and get them out of harm’s way.  And they are the first to begin the task of rebuilding.

To support these mothers and their families this Mother’s Day, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is offering a variety of charitable gift ideas called “Rescue Gifts,” which can help mothers in conflict zones around the world protect their young and rebuild their communities, while shoppers express love and gratitude for the mothers in their lives.

Gifts like a community cash box ($90).  In places like Ivory Coast, women come together to save whatever spare change they have to support each other’s dreams.  They save it in a community cash box and when they have saved enough a woman can take a loan out of the box to start her own business — perhaps a small grocery store, hair salon or tailor shop — then begin to repay that loan to fund another woman’s entrepreneurial goals.

In the United States, where refugee women are re-starting their lives and building their children’s futures, a gift of $135 can provide a refugee farmer participating in the IRC’s New Roots agriculture program with a refugeefarmers’ market kit, complete with a table, chalkboard, wooden boxes and baskets to help her bring her produce to market and earn her livelihood.

Other gifts include:

A Full Year of School$52 can provide the tuition, books and other supplies for one year of a young girl’s schooling in a country recovering from war ($52).
A Safe Delivery $24 can ensure critical supplies and assistance that will help make childbirth safer — and happier — for both mother and baby.
A Baby Goat $50 can provide one baby goat to help put a family in need on the road to recovery.
Women’s Small Business Training$192 can help hard-working women get the training they need to turn their ideas into assets.

Moms will receive a personalized card in the mail or an e-card describing how their “Rescue Gift” contributes to vital supplies and services for vulnerable people. Shoppers who spend $75 or more at Rescue.org/Gifts will receive a fashionable “Rescue” T-shirt designed and donated by Threads for Thought or can have it sent as a gift.  

While bouquets of flowers wilt and chocolates melt away, “Rescue Gifts” have a lasting impact and are perfect gift options for:

The eco-conscious mom or shopper: Rescue Gifts have a minimal carbon footprint (zero carbon impact if the giver opts for an eCard) and there’s no need to worry about wrapping paper.
The socially conscious mom or shopper: Rescue Gifts make a real difference for people in need.
The financially prudent shopper:  Rescue Gifts offer real value.
The last-minute shopper: Choices can be made and eCards can be sent right up to May 12.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. For 80 years, the IRC has offered lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war, persecution or natural disaster. At work today in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities, the IRC leads the way from harm to home.  For more information, visit www.rescue.org.

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A New Vision for a Greener America Emerges as San Francisco Transforms Waste into Resources

City Leads the Nation in Reducing Landfills by Keeping 80 Percent of Solid Waste Out

With severe weather events such as Superstorm Sandy drawing more attention to concerns about climate change, more and more Americans are looking for environmental solutions. One solution that is drawing increasing attention involves an unlikely suspect: trash, and more particularly, what we do with what we no longer need.

The city of San Francisco recently announced that it is now keeping fully 80 percent of its solid waste out of landfills, a statistic that leads the nation and a record that is attracting visits by officials from across the U.S. and around the world to consider the possibilities.

Composting Joins Recycling as Key to Success

According to Recology, which manages solid waste for San Francisco and 116 communities in the Western United States, including Portland and Seattle, a three-cart system is in place. Residents, businesses and multi-family dwellings place used items in three carts: blue for recycling (paper, plastics, glass and metals), green for food scraps and other organic matter, and black for the remainder that cannot currently be recycled.

With a high level of compliance, Recology processes approximately 750 tons of recycled items per day at a factory-like facility in San Francisco that sorts and bales them into 16 commodities, returning them to commerce and keeping them out of landfills.

In addition, since 1996, Recology has developed a large-scale composting program that takes 650 tons per day of organic matter and turns it into compost that goes to farms, orchards, vineyards and landscaping businesses.

A Model for the Nation

“What we’ve been able to develop with the city of San Francisco is a model that absolutely can be replicated by cities across the nation,” said Mike Sangiacomo, president and CEO of Recology. “And we’ve done this in an urban area that is second in size only to the New York metropolitan area.” Sangiacomo says that officials from municipalities from around the U.S. and abroad want to learn from San Francisco’s success.

Landfills historically have been the final destination for what people discard. But they are a dangerous use of land, as they emit substances that can harm ground water, and worse, they typically release methane, a greenhouse gas many times more harmful than carbon dioxide. “Food breaking down in landfills is the culprit,” says Sangiacomo. “Composting food dramatically reduces methane gas in the atmosphere. It also puts nutrients back into the soil, where they came from in the first place.” Sangiacomo believes that landfills could become a thing of the past if communities across the U.S. join San Francisco in moving toward its goal of zero waste.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton announced that the city will use the San Francisco recycling program as a model to triple their recycling efforts over the next seven years. The city’s “40 by 20” program seeks to keep 40 percent of recyclable trash out of landfills by 2020. Also, Massachusetts recently announced its intent to divert organic matter out of landfills and is looking at composting as a solution. And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has expressed interest in increasing the city’s recycling rate before his term ends in 2013.

Benefits Beyond the Environment

The San Francisco model also shows that its approach to recycling can benefit more than the environment. The Recology San Francisco recycling facility is situated in a neighborhood where unemployment rates have been stratospheric for decades. The employee-owners (Recology is an ESOP) working the lines in the facility are, in most cases, the first generation in their family ever to purchase homes, and to send their children to college. “Research shows that, if this model were widely adopted, literally millions of jobs would be created,” said Sangiacomo. “What we’re looking at is a huge potential economic stimulus at a time when the nation looks to new economies to create jobs on a large scale.”

Political Will: A Renewable Resource and a Force for Progress

“We’ve seen what can happen when a city commits to a recycling ethic, and it’s very encouraging,” says Sangiacomo. “I would suggest that anyone wanting their community to move more quickly towards zero waste contact their local officials. When citizens talk, public officials listen.”


New G Wear Eco-Friendly T-Shirts  Raise Money for West, TX Families Touched by Tragedy

G Wear is an eco-friendly fashion line that provides trendy, vintage tees designed for active lifestyles! Using t-shirts as a “canvas” and recycled fabrics as stitched-appliques, G Wear creates designs that allow the wearer to communicate a relaxed style all their own, with no two shirts being alike. Since the brand is made in Texas, G Wear felt the need to reach out to those affected by the recent tragedy and support its neighbors. 100% of the proceeds from the sales of the "West TX" G Wear tank top will go to the victims of the recent explosion and their families. http://mygwear.com/west-texas/.

 All money raised will go to the 100 Club of Central Texas, which provides financial assistance and other support to police, fire and emergency personnel, and their families who are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. They have set up a special fund to assist first responders and their families who suffered injury or death while protecting the residents of West, TX.

"We are philanthropic throughout the year giving to organizations like Make a Wish, but when this tragedy took place right here in Texas,we were compelled to help our neighbors in need," said Michael Wilson, owner of G Wear. "Life is about doing the right thing and helping people - we are honored to give back to the families that fell victim to this devastating disaster."   
 
In addition to the West, TX tank, guests visiting the website http://www.myGWear.com can also pick their own design, applique color and t-shirt color to create a t-shirt that reflects their style.

G Wear began in 2008 as the vision of a local Ft. Worth, Texas fashion designer, Stanley Jackson. His inspiration came from his young daughter, Malerie, who at 4 years old (with a little help from her Mom), stitched a heart appliqué onto a simple dime store t-shirt. Jackson proudly wore the shirt around town and was always being stopped and asked where he got it. After telling the story over and over, he decided they might be onto something big. He created a few sample designs using appliqués cut from recycled t-shirts. They were an instant hit everywhere he went - hence G Wear was born.
“It’s important to G Wear to create a stylish brand that is eco-friendly and unique so we can be sure we do our part to take proper care of the world in which we live, making a better environment for our children now and in the future” said Wilson. “Finding any opportunity to also give back and help those in need at the same time is a win win for all of us involved.”

In addition to working with the Pat and Emmit Smith Foundation, the Lopez Foundation and various non-profits across the country, G Wear’s passion for giving back takes root in its ongoing partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas. A portion of all tees purchased online is donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation, allowing families to help further its mission to “grant wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”

G Wear is always looking towards the future and designing new lines each year. Recently launched their newly licensed Sorority line and collegiate apparel is now reaching campuses across the U.S. Check out all the hot styles at http://www.mygwear.com