NYC Food Politics and CSA Update

Politics and Our Dinner Tables

NYC Food Politics and CSA Update

Politics and Our Dinner Tables

This week's home page photograph features cupcakes artfully made by Crumbs, a favorite New York City bakery -- with special thanks to Crumb's cupcake artists Wise and Natalie -- we're using some sweetness to be political this week at The City Cook. 

There are many reasons to vote this coming Tuesday.  The right to vote is precious and if you don't exercise it, to my mind you give up the right to complain -- about anything -- for the next four years. 

Your vote will also directly impact what's on your and my dinner plates because whoever is in the White House and in control of Congress has more to say about how and what we eat than we do.  Their policies and decisions determine where we buy our food and what it costs, as well as the big related issues of global warming, trade policies, food safety, labor practices, incentives for organic farmers, food labeling practices, environmental protections, and the enforcement of the food and farming regulations already in place.  Not surprising, the two Presidential candidates have very different positions on all these issues and you can get more information on their respective web sites.  If you care about food policy, it should be an easy choice.

So if you're worried about the deteriorating quality of our food supply or what it now costs to buy a dozen eggs, it's another compelling reason to show up at your local polling place on Tuesday, November 4.  I predict no meal will leave you as satisfied as when you pull that lever.

The Politics of Food:  A Conference on New York's Next Policy Challenge

Continuing with politics but with a local interest, Manhattan's Borough President Scott Stringer is joining with Columbia University to co-host a one-day event on the food challenges facing New York City.  The Politics of Food:  A Conference on New York's Next Policy Challenge will take place on Wednesday, November 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Alfred Lerner Hall, 2920 Broadway at West 114th Street in Manhattan. 

There will be keynote speakers, including:  Maya Wiley, Director of the Center for Social Inclusion; Miguel D’Escoto, President of the United Nations General Assembly; and Thomas Forster of The New School's Food Studies Program Faculty.

Break-out sessions will be:

The conference is free to attend but you must register in advance.  The conference web site will be live next week where you can register on-line.  We'll have more information soon on but in the meantime, you can go to Scott Stringer's web site at (look under "events").

You have to love an elected official who has enough vision to take on an essential topic that has no easy answers.

CSA -- The End of the Season

I've received more notes and questions about my CSA (community supported agriculture) experience than almost anything else I've written about at The City Cook. 

Since early June, I'd trek every Thursday afternoon to a church on West 57th Street to pick up a bag of vegetables -- the variety and quantity were determined by our farmer, Zaid Kurdieh, at Norwich Meadows Farm in Norwich, New York.  Every other week I'd also get fruit and a dozen eggs.  I volunteered twice, each time staffing our depot and helping my fellow CSA members weigh, bag and collect their weekly shares.  One week I also helped greet the farm truck, off-loading flats of produce, poultry, cheese, milk, yogurt and eggs, racing against any traffic officer looking to hand out a ticket for double-parking.  Total volunteer time?  Five hours.

I'd use part of these hours to talk with my fellow CSA members, gathering their insights, opinions, and recipes, and comparing this season with ones past.  As this year's growing season comes to an end and with only three weeks left in the fruit and vegetable share I purchased in the Columbus Circle CSA, I thought it was time to share some lessons and tips:


CSA Alternatives

If you support the politics of a CSA and love the quality and flavor of food bought directly from a local farmer but you don't want to be tied to a weekly pick-up or limited to what's in a share, you have options. 

Members receive a 10% discount and you can buy as much as you like, of anything you like, until you use up the value of your share.  It costs a bit more than being a CSA member but you do not have to volunteer, there's no regimented pick-up time and place, and you have the huge advantage of buying what and how much of anything that is available.  We've added a link below to Norwich Meadows Farm's Market CSA information.

For more information about CSAs in New York City, visit  Their 2009 information isn't yet available but check in with them over the winter as shares will become available by early spring.  If 2008 is any indication, most New York CSAs will sell out quickly so keep an eye on what will be available.

We are so lucky to have all these options.  At a time when the nation's food supply is under stress and when hunger -- around the world and in our own neighborhoods -- is a tragic and growing problem, we are grateful for our bounty.

Let's not take it for granted:  go vote!




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