J500 Media and the Environment

Cordley students whet their appetites for local food by jmuselmann

Excitement was in the air today at Cordley Elementary. It was the familiar, childlike vigor the comes from trying something new, and it was shared by both adults and kids alike as they filed into the gymnasium — not the cafeteria — for their first-ever locally sourced lunch. The term is “farm-to-school,” and judging from the content faces forking up the lasagna, it hit the spot.

The lunch was the culmination of a week of learning for the students, which spanned teaching about the benefits to local and organic foods to fields trips picking strawberries and gathering eggs from local farms (both of which were popular in the salad bar). In surveying the participants of the grand experiment about the typical lunch fare in the cafeteria, I got a sea of downward thumbs and “baaaad.” Fourth-grader Ainsley Agnew said it was just “grossness,” while on my other side was Pria Jean-Baptiste, also a fourth-grader, giving me a minutely detailed lesson about how to make the pasta from scratch. I should have taken better notes.

But the satisfaction didn’t come just from the good food, which included vegetarian and beef lasagna, bread sticks, salad, Iwig Family Dairy milk and a strawberry rhubarb confection, but also in the hard work to plan for it. Linda Cottin, the event’s organizer, said the meal had been in the works since November.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of community support, and I am happy that there’s a way to do this without all the work and make this an everyday function in the schools,” she said.

Rick Martin, head chef for the event (and at Free State Brewing Co.), agreed, saying that “After having this model, it will be easier” to accomplish in other schools and on a more permanent basis. That indeed was the consensus in the organizers’ post-lunch discussion, noting that Lawrence has the nearby farms and public interest to achieve it.

In a sense, the setting was typical: rambunctious kids at lunchtime, cracking jokes and playing with their food before politely running outside for recess. But it wasn’t. For the grown-ups — smiling volunteers and paparazzi abuzz to capture the moment — it was an accomplishment in the face of convention. Lindsey Kellenbarger, a teacher, also brought her camera for the momentous occasion, knowing the potential impact this seemingly ordinary lunch could have on the students.

“I got a kid to eat a turnip that I didn’t think would. That’s exciting,” she said.

—Jacob M.


How many definitions are there of sustainability? by tesshedrick

What is sustainability?  When I was first posed with this question, I was hesitant as to what my response was going to be.  I was trying to think of the correct definition; I didn’t want to sound like I didn’t know the right definition.  Before I blurted out my premature answer, I did some research on the word, “sustainability.”

The first place I wanted to look at was the dictionary.  So I went to dictionary.com but to my surprise there was no entry for “sustainability”; however there were defintions of the word “sustain.”

I thouht I was going to be golden after “finding” sustainability in the dictionary that when I came back to spill out my definition, it would be the “right” one.  I was wrong.  through more research, I found that there are numerous defintions of sustainablity, and there is no concrete definition of it.

There are such websites that use the title of “sustainable food” to call to the attention of activism.  This article is warning people that a bill possibly being proposed to the Senate could be harmful to people.  Various chemicals will  be used to cover up any unclean practices of companies.

What I gathered from that website’s definition of sustainability is protecting foods from being injected with any more unnatural chemicals.  It seems to me that this website encourages ordinary citizens to start taking a stand and taking it upon ourselves to help protect our foods and the environment.  Out of three head nods for sustainability, I definitely give this website 3 head nods!

As my journey for what the one definition of sustainability lead me to other websites, I came across one that I for some reason felt relaxed when I came to it.  I mean, the website is called eartheasy.

The background of the page made me feel like I was in nature.  As I began clicking through the website, I hadn’t learned anything that I didn’t already know.  For instance, one of the pages on the website gave suggestions of where kids and adults could play in the environment.

The examples given were all ones I could have though of on my own.  I gave this website 1 1/2 head nods for sustainability.

When I think back to the 70’s (even though I wasn’t alive yet) I think of hippies who loved the environment.  This YouTube video of Jim Carrey from In Living Color shows that mainly hippies are portrayed as being “earth lovers.”

-Tess H.

Fighting Fast Food with Cute Cows by brennad87

“We are going to talk about cows today!” I said cheerily to the bunch of bright faces assembled. 

It was a Sunday morning and I was with the group of children I have babysat for two years.  Fresh from watching a You Tube video of Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, I was keenly aware that the kids around me were right in the middle of their most formative years. Fast food knows this too. With the pull of good taste and good advertising, children get hooked into bad eating habits young.

Eating habits start young. Sadly, those habits usually stick.

Eating habits start young. Sadly, those habits usually stick.

In an interview with CBS, Schlosser explains, “It started innocently enough, giving a toy with the meal, playgrounds, there are good things about it. But these are very, very crucial years. If you look at the ingredients of the fast food meals that are being heavily marketed to children, they’re extremely high in fat, and high in sugar, and high in salt.”

So this morning, I decided, I would do some counter-advertising. We were going to learn about sustainable agriculture.

The kids began by envisioning that they owned cow farms (“Mine is named Blackberry farm,” said Bella).   I then explained to them the consolidation of buyers for milk and why that was hard for small farms (“Why would a group selling milk to Dillons want to buy from a place with lots of cows?” “It’s easier for them,” said Li, who I was quickly realizing was the cold hearted capitalist amongst us.)

“So, if you buy more cows,” I continued, “how can you afford that?”

Less trips to the vet, cheaper food… they understood.

“And what if you want to stay small? So you can afford the good stuff for your cows?”

“The buyers won’t buy from you,” said Li, “They can’t make money.”

“So how can you survive?”

Shatto Milk Company welcomes young visitors to their farm. Lessons like that stick too!

Shatto Milk Company welcomes young visitors to their farm. Lessons like that stick too!

With remarkable ease, the imaginative kids solved the problem just like the ace advertisers hired by Shatto Milk Company, a local sustainable and successful farm. Bella produced a drawing of a funky looking bottle to sell the milk in (Something Shatto already does). Li admitted she would rather buy from people (and cows!) she knew (Shatto makes a point to involve themselves in the community). They brainstormed different kinds of milk—“Coconut!” and “Mint!” (Shatto is famous for Root Beer Milk.)

At the end of the lesson, I told them about Shatto farms and the kids were entranced that the whimsical farm existed. They left after an hour, still chatting about Farmer Shatto’s horn that moos instead of honks, and as I called “Tell your parents about the stuff you learned,” I hoped I had made a difference.

— Brenna Daldorph


— photos at http://www.fox4kc.com/media/photo/2008-12/ShattoMilk082.jpg, http://vivirlatino.com/i/2008/07/mcdonalds-kid.jpg


Moving in a Local Direction by mstinawood

Identifying one’s self as a locavore has become a trend, a fashion. As we all know, trends are temporary and move out of our frame of reference as quickly as they enter in. However, there are people who are working to make this trend a mainstay among flighty seekers of modern movements.

Time constraints are one of the biggest obstacles in this eating local lifestyle change. Many people cannot find the time to visit the farmers market, cultivate their own goods, or simply don’t want to. This could be looked upon as a hurdle for the longevity of locavores, or as a business opportunity. Residents of San Francisco have the opportunity to hire Trevor Paque. His company, Myfarm, will install and maintain organic vegetable gardens in the backyards of homes. His business provides what people want, fresh local food, and takes care of what they don’t, taking the time to get their hands dirty. Receptions at the Plaza Hotel, New York now have a local food option. For $72 per person a “100 mile menu” is provided. The goods originate from the caterer’s farm and surrounding fields in upstate New York. 

Fewer and fewer people have the time or the capacity to cook homemade meals for their families. With this trend has come the development of the private chef sector. More and more people are ordering prefab meals from private chefs and local businesses. As the demand for local food increases, local menu options grow. Like any trend, the rich reap the benefits before a cost effective version trickles down to the masses, but there are more affordable and available options springing up across the United States. My prediction: careers in local food preparation and cultivation are on the rise. Take advantage and find your niche!

Tina Wood

Photo Credit

Be a Prouder Lawrencian by sachikom

“Poor Sachiko. You have to eat McDonald and pizza everyday.”

I’m a student from Japan. Before I left Japan, many of my friends mentioned fast food and felt sorry about an unhealthy and tasteless diet I’d go through.

Now, I can say they’re not right, at least in Lawrence. I like to go to downtown restaurants that serve a variety of food around the world. I love to cook using fresh ingredients from the downtown farmers’ market. After coming to Lawrence, I’m converted to a supporter of local food, too.


Photo Credit: Farmers’ Market in Downtown Lawrence Lawrence farmers’ market is open on Saturday morning and Tuesday and Thursday evening.


The farmers’ market, a community garden and restaurants that specialize in regional ingredients, Lawrence offers great venues for local food. The benefits of local food vary from taste to health, to the environment and local economy.

To be a prouder Lawrencian, how can we support local food and build a more sustainable food network in Lawrence?

Search Lawrence Sustainability Network and Local HarvestThey tell us farms and restaurants that specialize in regional ingredients.

Support local farmers through a subscription service: Small-scale local firms are vulnerable to risks such as bad weather and pests. Daniel Dermitzel, farmer and associate director of Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture, said we can help local formers by sharing those risks and subscribing to Community Supported Agriculture. Under the subscription service, organized farmers collect a fixed fee from customers and provide products periodically. The amount of share depends on the performance of those farmers. Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance is available for the Lawrence area. 

Volunteer for the Lawrence farmers’ market: It’s a great way to share your passion with customers and vendors. 

In the long run, we should create more opportunities for farmers to sell their products.

Open the farmers’ market in winter: Although not many products are available during the winter season, opening the markets would help stabilize farmers’ income and satisfy customers’ demands. The Christian Science Monitor reports winter indoor markets that have become popular in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. 

Create a local food kiosk on the KU campus: The kiosk could sell fruits, snacks and meals made of locally grown ingredients. It can be promotional, too.

Start a Farm-to-School program in Lawrence public schools: Farm to School is a program which schools provide meals using locally produced foods. Schools also provide learning opportunities, such as farming, gardening and studying about nutrition. This program would enable local farmers to sell their products and raise students’ awareness of food and health. 

Your participation wanted! And don’t miss Lawrence farmers’ market! It opens on Saturday morning and Tuesday and Thursday evening from mid April to November.

By Sachiko Miyakawa


Fresh Food is Not a Privilege of Rural Life Anymore by sachikom

The field trip to a farm in Kansas City, Mo. made me hungry. I smelled the soil, learned about material to grow vegetables and talked to farmers. I almost said, “Can I have a bite of this romaine? Look, so fresh!”



Photo Credits: Sachiko Miyakawa These are inside the green house of the farm.


The farm is a certified organic farm in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Daniel Dermitzel operates the firm. He also serves as the associate director of Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture to promote fresh and healthy food in the city.

Along with the increasing awareness of food safety and environmentalism, urban agriculture like Dermitzel’s farm is gaining attention across the country. Urban agriculture is the practice of raising food locally, especially within or around cities. It reduces consumption of fossil fuels and pollution from shipping and provides fresh vegetables, fruits and meat to city residents. According to the Urban Agriculture Conference,urban agriculture supports food security, provides employment and income to cities, and offers a learning experience for school children. Also, products are often sold in farmers’ markets, encouraging communications between consumers and producers. Urban agriculture activates community.

But not all cities can afford land for farming. In some places, landowners can make more money lending the land for other businesses. Increasing efficiency and profits of farms is necessary to develop urban agriculture.

BBC reports scientists at Columbia University proposed a future of urban agriculture in New York City. The “vertical farm,” a 30-story skyscraper with glass walls would feature farms for varieties of crops and livestock. Energy would come from a solar panel and fuel made from the farm’s waste would provide energy. Wastewater would be recycled in the complex.

TreeHugger features an underground farming in downtown Tokyo. Although the farm’s purpose is rather a display and experiment, the underground farming is an example of unlimited possibilities for the future of urban agriculture.

By Sachiko Miyakawa


Organic Food + Typical College Student = Probably Not by Sarah
March 4, 2008, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Food + Health | Tags: , , , , ,

Not people are interested in my daily food intake, but I’m posting it anyway to see how guilty I feel afterwards looking at it:

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs and a piece of wheat toast, and a cup of coffee —>obviously.

Lunch: one crunchy chicken cheddar wrap (from the union, duh)

Dinner: one serving of california roll sushi (courtesy of the Target deli section, love it)

Nighttime indulgence: a way-too-big piece of of white cake i made when i was bored yesterday.

So, besides the huge piece of unnecessary cake I ate last night when I was feeling particularly sad, I would say my food intake as a whole is pretty healthy in my opinion.

When I’m choosing what to eat, the main thing I TRY to go for is whether it is healthy or not. I’ll admit, I’m not a big organic food person, and I love convenient, semi-healthy food in my life. I’ve had Local Burger before, and honestly I enjoyed it. But if I have the option of lunch at the Underground while on campus, instead of driving off-campus to Local Burger just so I can eat organic, I’ll take the convenient route any day.

When I’m at the grocery store, I always stroll past the organic section but never really browse it or think about purchasing organic. I think that making the effort to eat organic is good in theory, but not realistic for me, or any other college student, for that matter. Organic=Expensive. In my opinion, why would I want to spend more money and more time when I can just buy food that is just as healthy, and less expensive.

Photo: Jeremy Brooks, Flickr

I came across an article where a student claims he based his decision on choosing Yale over Harvard because of Yale’s effort in serving sustainable food on it’s campus. In my opinion, that is a little extreme. Choosing a college because it serves MORE organic food?

In theory, I think eating organic is awesome, and for those people who are able to fit it into their lifestyles..more power to them. At this point in my life, I’m not sure if that’s me. I hope someday I will have enough money and determination to make that lifestyle change.

-Sarah Nelson