WBEZ | organic food http://www.wbez.org/tags/organic-food Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en What's 'natural' food? The government isn't sure and wants your input http://www.wbez.org/news/whats-natural-food-government-isnt-sure-and-wants-your-input-113763 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-2465795edited-82c5e023a10d4ef4667b4b95b46f27591ae19860.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455668818" previewtitle="Granola cereals on a shelf in Glenview, Ill. &quot;If the FDA were to create a more strict, more comprehensive definition, it would give manufacturers a lot more guidance on whether or not they could use the term 'natural' on their food products,&quot; says lawyer Ivan Wasserman."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Granola cereals on a shelf in Glenview, Ill. &quot;If the FDA were to create a more strict, more comprehensive definition, it would give manufacturers a lot more guidance on whether or not they could use the term 'natural' on their food products,&quot; says lawyer Ivan Wasserman." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/11/gettyimages-2465795edited_custom-d56bb413f7b2914222cad9375060aa21fb444aa4-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 433px; width: 620px;" title="Granola cereals on a shelf in Glenview, Ill. &quot;If the FDA were to create a more strict, more comprehensive definition, it would give manufacturers a lot more guidance on whether or not they could use the term 'natural' on their food products,&quot; says lawyer Ivan Wasserman. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>The Food and Drug Administration is seeking your input to answer a question: How should the agency define &quot;natural&quot; on food labels?</p></div></div></div><p>Disagreement over what &quot;all natural&quot; or &quot;100 percent natural&quot; means has spawned dozens of lawsuits. Consumers have challenged the naturalness of all kinds of food products.</p><p>For instance, can a product that contains high fructose corn syrup be labeled as natural? What about products that contain genetically modified ingredients?</p><p>The FDA has received three citizen petitions asking for clarification. And, beginning Thursday, the agency will&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/ucm471919.htm">ask us</a>&nbsp;&mdash; the public &mdash; to weigh in. Comments can be<a href="http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FDA-2014-N-1207-0001">submitted</a>&nbsp;electronically.</p><div id="res455675628"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>As my colleague Dan Charles has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/06/24/325189610/natural-food-sounds-good-but-doesnt-mean-much">reported</a>, developing a comprehensive, legal definition for this buzzword may be tough. After all, saying something is natural is a little bit like saying something is beautiful. The judgment is in the eye of the beholder.</p><p>We called up&nbsp;<a href="https://www.manatt.com/ivan-wasserman/">Ivan Wasserman</a>, a lawyer with the firm Manatt, Phelps &amp; Philips who tracks this issue. Our conversation is edited for clarity and length.</p><p><strong>The Food and Drug Administration is asking people to weigh in on a definition for the term &quot;natural&quot; on food labels. Will this process lead to a new rule &mdash; a codified, legal definition?</strong></p><p>By requesting comments, the FDA is obligated to review them. So, [the agency] has certainly taken on a big project in simply announcing this. But it has not announced that it&#39;s creating a new rule or definition.</p><p><strong>The FDA says it has had a long-standing policy on this issue and has &quot;considered the term &#39;natural&#39; to mean ... nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source).&quot; So why is there still confusion over what counts as &quot;natural&quot;?</strong></p><p>This policy does not address a lot of these newer issues [such as GMO ingredients, or newer ways of processing foods].</p><p>If the FDA were to create a more strict, more comprehensive definition, it would give manufacturers a lot more guidance on whether or not they could use the term &quot;natural&quot; on their food products.</p><p><strong>There have been a lot of class-action lawsuits brought against companies that have labeled their products as &quot;natural.&quot; What are some of the most interesting examples?</strong></p><p>Some of the original cases were brought against companies that included high fructose corn syrup in their products &mdash; which is obviously an ingredient that comes from corn, but has been processed. And there have been lawsuits against companies for including genetically modified ingredients in their products.</p><p>There are a lot of sides to this argument. And I think at the end of this process if the FDA does create a definition for &quot;natural,&quot; it&#39;s going to be hard to satisfy everyone.</p><p><strong>Food companies may also like the looser language since it gives them more wiggle room to use the term &quot;natural.&quot;&nbsp;Can you think of any precedents here &mdash; in food law &mdash; of creating stricter standards for food labels?</strong></p><p>Yes: the organic label. If you see the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] organic seal on a food product, that has a very strict program [and set of rules] on what foods can bear that seal. So there is some precedent. But the term &quot;natural&quot; is a little more vague.</p><p><strong>So, there&#39;s a challenge here. This is not an easy task. If you were at the FDA, what would you do?</strong></p><p>Look for another job [laughs].</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/11/455506222/whats-natural-food-the-government-isnt-sure-and-wants-your-input" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Thu, 12 Nov 2015 15:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/whats-natural-food-government-isnt-sure-and-wants-your-input-113763 If big food buys your favorite 'natural' food brand, will you trust it? http://www.wbez.org/news/if-big-food-buys-your-favorite-natural-food-brand-will-you-trust-it-113303 <p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gettyimages-175262665-6ac2b4aa49caa790062473b67afb2a0f887371b4-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 449px; width: 600px;" title="Perdue, the poultry giant, acquired the Niman Ranch name and reputation of raising animals without antibiotics in September. (John Greim/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)" /></div><div><p>Big food companies are buying up small ones.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.coca-colacompany.com/brands/honest-tea">Honest Tea</a>&nbsp;is now part of Coca-Cola. The French company Danone controls&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stonyfield.com/">Stonyfield</a>&nbsp;yogurt. Hormel owns&nbsp;<a href="http://www.applegate.com/">Applegate</a>natural and organic meats.</p><p>The Cornucopia Institute has put together a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cornucopia.org/who-owns-organic/">poster</a>&nbsp;that shows the full extent of the merger wave, at least for the organic industry. In the latest deal, announced a few weeks ago, Perdue Farms, a big poultry producer based in Maryland,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-08/perdue-farms-to-buy-natural-food-holdings-from-lnk-partners">bought</a>&nbsp;Niman Ranch, which started as an idealistic group of farmers protesting against companies like Perdue.</p><p>For shoppers who like their food natural, local and organic, though, these deals can be unsettling. Will they still trust a food brand if someone else now owns it?</p><div id="res447255015"><div><div>As it happens, some of the founders of those companies wonder the same thing.</div></div></div><div id="res447255033"><div><div>Take these three: Bill Niman, Gene Kahn and Grant Lundberg. Niman started Niman Ranch, Kahn founded<a href="http://www.cascadianfarm.com/">Cascadian Farm</a>, a pioneer of organic food and Grant Lundberg is CEO of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lundberg.com/">Lundberg Family Farms</a>, which sells organic rice.</div></div></div><p>Each of these companies started with its own vision of a better way to grow food. &quot;For us, the innovation was raising animals without the use of pharmaceuticals and chemicals,&quot; Niman says.</p><p>At roughly the same time, in the early 1970s, Gene Kahn started a back-to-the-land experiment that turned into a business. &quot;I became enamored by the whole notion of agriculture, and farming, and improving the environmental performance of agriculture,&quot; he says. Grant Lundberg&#39;s grandparents, for their part, were influenced by the trauma of the Dust Bowl. &quot;Remembering some of those experiences, they started to farm a little different from their neighbors,&quot; Lundberg says.</p><div id="res447253609" previewtitle="A grilled Niman Ranch pork chop. Perdue Farms, a big poultry producer based in Maryland, bought Niman Ranch in September."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A grilled Niman Ranch pork chop. Perdue Farms, a big poultry producer based in Maryland, bought Niman Ranch in September." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/09/7146901015_b36a19c56e_o_sq-e2fa29ca1f738d59fee751316c8ef32ece59a80c-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 250px; width: 250px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="A grilled Niman Ranch pork chop. Perdue Farms, a big poultry producer based in Maryland, bought Niman Ranch in September. (Ego Faylona/Flickr)" /></div><div><p>In addition to a vision, though, these companies had ambition. They wanted to expand, and they did, riding a wave of demand for humanely raised meat, organic fruit and organic rice.</p></div></div><p>That&#39;s when big, conventional, food companies started calling with marriage proposals.</p><p>&quot;We have offers a lot,&quot; Lundberg says. &quot;They want to explore, they want to talk about the idea of purchasing, or making an investment in the company.&quot;</p><p>So these founders (or, in the case of the Lundberg family, the grandchildren of the founders) all faced a choice. Should they sell? Would it be selling out?</p><p>Gene Kahn, from Cascadian Farm, can&#39;t stand that phrase, &quot;because it&#39;s so akin to selling out your soul to the devil.&quot;</p><p>He says that&#39;s it&#39;s not that simple. Part of the pitch that the big companies typically make involves a promise to expand the company&#39;s vision, converting more land to organic farming, or raising more animals without hormones and drugs.</p><p>&quot;Who do you want to work with, if you&#39;re really committed to improving agriculture?&quot; Kahn asks. &quot;Who is it that you want to talk [to]? Do you want to just talk to yourself? Or do you want to talk to the people who control all the acres?&quot;</p><p>None of these food idealists have anything against the sheer size of big food companies, by the way. They agree: Big can be good. Efficiency makes food affordable.</p><p>&quot;You&#39;re a cynic if you say only small companies can ... have values, aren&#39;t you?&quot; Lundberg says. &quot;Somehow you have to believe that size doesn&#39;t matter.&quot;</p><p>Each founder, however, has pursued a different path.</p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_9907130661.jpg" style="float: right; height: 210px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="In this Tuesday, July 13, 1999 photo, half gallons of Organic Cow milk sit on the shelf of a grocery store in Williston, Vt. The H. P. Hood Company sold its' Vermont-based subsidiary to the Colorado-based company, Horizon, the largest distributor of organic food products in the country. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)" /><p>The Lundberg family has spurned all offers. Grant Lundberg says that his company doesn&#39;t really need investors. And if you sell, he says, there&#39;s no way to make sure that the name Lundberg Family Farms &quot;would continue to represent that commitment to the environment, producing high-quality food.&quot;</p><p>Gene Kahn, though, sold Cascadian Farm to one of the biggest food companies in America: General Mills. That was 15 years ago.</p><p>He says it&#39;s worked out really well. &quot;They&#39;ve not only preserved the ethics and the whole vision of the company, they&#39;ve improved it,&quot; he says.</p><p>Bill Niman, meanwhile, has complicated feelings about the recent sale of Niman Ranch to Perdue.</p><p>&quot;Right now, I feel pretty good about it,&quot; he says. Niman has some emotional distance, by now, to the company that he founded. He actually left Niman Ranch eight years ago.</p><p>&quot;The important thing is that Perdue is very capable of adhering to the same kind of standards for treating animals better, and treating farmers more respectably,&quot; he says.</p><p>In fact, Perdue may be forced to follow that way of operating, Niman says. The poultry giant just spent a lot of money for the Niman Ranch name and reputation. It wouldn&#39;t want to ruin that asset, he says.</p><p>But Niman still worries that the new owners will just try to maintain that reputation through marketing, with slogans that don&#39;t mean much. &quot;These bigger outfits have a lot of marketing power, and they&#39;re able to spin things and create confusion in the marketplace, which is a little bit frightening for me.&quot;</p><p>He admits that he doesn&#39;t feel the same about Applegate products, now that Hormel owns it. He doesn&#39;t buy Stonyfield yogurt anymore. He says he just doesn&#39;t trust the new owners quite as much.</p><p>To keep that trust, big food companies may have to do more than buy a brand. They may need to show skeptical consumers that they&#39;re sticking with the principles of that company&#39;s founders.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/12/445005485/if-big-food-buys-your-favorite-natural-food-brand-will-you-trust-it?ft=nprml&amp;f=445005485" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 16:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/if-big-food-buys-your-favorite-natural-food-brand-will-you-trust-it-113303 EcoMyths: Is organic food overrated? http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-organic-food-overrated-104933 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/organic%20food.jpg" title="Cabbages, salad greens, radishes and broccoli are among the selection of organic produce on sale at a Whole Foods Market. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)" /></div><p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F75061988"></iframe>As the mid-winter chill sets in, a tangy tasting ripe tomato with sweet fresh basil leaves can easily bring summer to mind. But often, grocery-store tomatoes don&rsquo;t taste good at all times of year and fresh basil is expensive.&nbsp; So how do we find and choose good produce year-round?&nbsp; In this latest <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/ecomyths"><em>EcoMyths</em></a> segment, <em>Worldview&#39;s</em> Jerome McDonnell and I talked with sustainability expert, Environmental Studies Professor <a href="http://csh.depaul.edu/departments/environmental-science-studies/faculty-and-staff/Pages/willard.aspx">Barbara Willard</a>, of DePaul University.&nbsp; Barb knows the process of buying healthy, sustainable produce year-round can be confusing - there are so many factors we&#39;ve been told to consider.&nbsp; She helped us explore the conventional wisdom and tease apart the variables, including: local vs. imported, organically versus conventionally grown, and purchasing versus growing your own.&nbsp; She simplified the process of sourcing fresh produce year-round to some key factors in your buying decision.</p><p>So why is it important to buy locally-grown foods? &ldquo;Food miles&rdquo; is the term used to describe the carbon generated in transporting produce to market.&nbsp; But Willard reminds us that it is not just transportation miles we should consider when calculating the carbon footprint of a pepper - it is also production: was a lot of heavy equipment used to plant and harvest it? Was chemical fertilizer used? Was the product transported by truck?&nbsp; Even if the produce was grown at a local farm, all these components can create a large carbon footprint.&nbsp; If food miles are important to you, it is good to know the farming practices of the grower from which you buy your fruits and vegetables.&nbsp; The lowest carbon footprint tends to occur with farms that do not use chemical fertilizer, minimize use of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, and travel the shortest distance to market.</p><p>Buying organic is widely understood to have environmental benefits too, but why? &ldquo;Organic&rdquo; simply means crops grown with natural fertilizers and pest-control methods rather than with synthetic chemicals.&nbsp; The benefit of eating organic produce is that it reduces or eliminates chemicals in both the food and the environment from the source.&nbsp; Only foods with the USDA seal are certified as having been raised using truly organic methods.&nbsp; Also, Willard reminds us that many people think organic food tastes better, due to the lower chemical content.&nbsp; The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a list of conventionally-grown foods to avoid due to chemical content - they believe these foods should be purchased in the organic section of the store instead.&nbsp; <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/2012/11/why-go-organic/">Produce myths are explored</a> and the EWG tips can be found on the <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/"><em>EcoMyth Alliance&#39;s</em></a> website or on the <a href="http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/">EWG Shoppers Guide</a> on their website.&nbsp; EWG also has an iPhone app (available <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dirty-dozen/id312336368?mt=8">here</a>) that tells you what foods are best to buy organic: &ldquo;The Dirty Dozen&rdquo; and also those that are safe to buy conventionally grown, &ldquo;The Clean 15&rdquo;.</p><p>As with organic, many people feel that eating foods when they are in season is the tastier choice. Willard encourages us to grow our own vegetables, both for the fun of it and for better tasting food.&nbsp; She even gives us tips on what to grow in the winter months (kale, spinach, herbs) and how to do it (outdoors under a hoop house).</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="260" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/organics%20hoop%20house.jpg" title="Growing spinach as a winter crop in a hoop house. (Photo by Barb Willard)" width="463" /></div><p>With these rules of thumb in mind: local, organic, and seasonal, I now feel inspired to go shopping!&nbsp;</p><p>For more information on these topics, see EcoMyths&rsquo; latest myth article: <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/2013/01/sustainable-produce/">&ldquo;Is Sustainable Food Out of Reach?</a>&rdquo; on the EcoMyths Alliance website.&nbsp; Other helpful resources are shown below:</p><p>-Michal Pollan Video, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GyIhXNilcg">Serious Sustainability</a>&rdquo;</p><p>-GoTo2040 Video: &ldquo;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbTxNkVdM38">Planning for a Sustainable Local Food System</a>&rdquo;<br /><br />-Earth 911 Slideshow of Winter Produce, by region - <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2011/01/10/your-local-guide-to-winter-produce/">http://earth911.com/news/2011/01/10/your-local-guide-to-winter-produce/</a></p><p>-Pick Your Own: List of crop calendars by state - <a href="http://www.pickyourown.org/US_crop_harvest_calendars.php">http://www.pickyourown.org/US_crop_harvest_calendars.php</a></p></p> Tue, 15 Jan 2013 12:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-organic-food-overrated-104933 Palestinian organic farmers gaining access to global market through fair trade http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-04/palestinian-organic-farmers-gaining-access-global-market-through-fair-tr <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-04/palestine1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Palestine has a small but strong community of sustainable farmers who harvest olive oil, honey, almonds, tahini, cous cous and more. But year after year, politics complicates the harvest. Palestine’s isolation from the world makes it hard for these farmers to fully take part in the growing organic food movement.</p><p>Vivien Sansour represents the <a href="http://www.palestinefairtrade.org/" target="_blank">Palestine Fair Trade Association</a>. She's also the promotions manager for an olive farmer’s collective in the country called <a href="https://www.canaanusa.com/" target="_blank">Canaan Fair Trade</a>. She tells <em>Worldview</em> what life is like for Palestinian farmers.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 04 Jan 2012 17:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-04/palestinian-organic-farmers-gaining-access-global-market-through-fair-tr Food Mondays: Raising questions about the organic, local food movement in the West http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/food-mondays-raising-questions-about-organic-local-food-movement-west <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//75540942.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today, we revisit a conversation with <a href="http://www.wellesley.edu/PublicAffairs/Profile/mr/rpaarlberg.html">Robert Paarlberg</a> from earlier this year. He&rsquo;s a professor of political science at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. His latest book is &quot;Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know.&quot;</p><p>Paarlberg takes issue with some of the developing world&rsquo;s more fashionable ideas about food in ways that might surprise you. He says the West&rsquo;s embrace of organic and sustainable farming has eclipsed the bigger problem of poverty and hunger in the developing world.</p></p> Mon, 13 Dec 2010 16:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/food-mondays-raising-questions-about-organic-local-food-movement-west Audio slideshow: A new garden for Altgeld http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/audio-slideshow-new-garden-altgeld <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//altgeld-farm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Altgeld Gardens is an unlikely place to put a farm. It&rsquo;s a public housing development 130 blocks south of downtown Chicago. The community&rsquo;s also surrounded by landfills, an expressway, a sewage treatment plant and the polluted Little Calumet River.<br /><br />This is the place where a community organizer named Barack Obama got his start. Reporter Linda Paul and photographer Richard Cahan <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/altgeld-gardens-high-hopes-president-barack-obama">first started visiting Altgeld on the morning after President Obama was elected</a>.</p><p>At his old stomping grounds, they&rsquo;ve found optimism, toughness and people eager to share their lives and neighborhood.</p><p>They&rsquo;ve been going back each year since the election. This year Altgeld proved to possess both the problem of and some steps toward solving the food access issues.<br />&nbsp;</p><object height="500" width="500" id="soundslider" classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000"><param value="http://audio.wbez.org/soundslides/20101122_AltgeldGardens/soundslider.swf?size=1&amp;format=xml&amp;embed_width=500&amp;embed_height=500" name="movie" /><param value="always" name="allowScriptAccess" /><param value="high" name="quality" /><param value="true" name="allowFullScreen" /><param value="false" name="menu" /><param value="#FFFFFF" name="bgcolor" /><embed height="500" width="500" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="sameDomain" menu="false" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" quality="high" src="http://audio.wbez.org/soundslides/20101122_AltgeldGardens/soundslider.swf?size=1&amp;format=xml&amp;embed_width=500&amp;embed_height=500"></embed></object><p>Sound of train whistle and early traffic.</p><p>Well before sun-up, occasional headlights pierce the dark. People are driving to work. Others are huddled at bus stops.</p><p>On this day.. as we've done in previous years.. we just begin strolling&hellip; talking with any early risers who have the time and patience for us &hellip;Our first 'taker' this morning is JD Payton. He's 57 years old and has lived in the Gardens since he was 12.</p><p>PAYTON: I'm a longshoreman. I load barges and ships that come in. Right now we're unloading products on BP. Windmills comin' in. Refinery equipment.&nbsp; And sometimes it's very difficult.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>Payton is waiting on his ride to the Port of Indiana, since he has no car.&nbsp; He tells us there's a real appeal to the Gardens, the nature trails in Baubien woods, the fishing in the river.&nbsp; He's appreciated these things from the time he was a boy. But one thing he really doesn't like about this place?&nbsp; In a community of over 3-thousand people, there's nowhere to buy fresh food. Not a carton of eggs, not a shred of lettuce.</p><p>PAYTON:&nbsp;&nbsp; We haven't had a grocery store for 6, 7 years.. That's hard to believe in a community this size. We don't have a grocery store.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>PAUL:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; How do people EAT ?</p><p>PAYTON:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Uh, there's a Rosebud Farm about half a mile up that way and if you can't walk up there, or you don't have an ability to get on a bus to go to the store - that's it. And that's bad, cuz my mother can't even get milk &amp; cereal. They got a liquor store, though. ( rueful laugh )</p><p>PAUL:&nbsp; So let me get that right.&nbsp; Within Altgeld Gardens there's a liquor store, but there is no grocery store.PAYTON:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Correct. And it has been that way for years now. To our amazement.&nbsp; Because when it first went out, we were sure within a couple of months or two somebody would be in there. That's been like 7 years ago..In fact, Altgeld Garden Liquor is the only store in this entire development, and the only foodstuff it sells is candy and chips.</p><p>But a couple of blocks away, towards the eastern edge of the development, we stumble upon something new in the Gardens. A kind of counterpoint. It's a long, Quonset hut-shaped structure, encased in heavy white plastic.</p><p>PAUL:&nbsp; Good morning.</p><p>WOMAN: Good morning.</p><p>PAUL: We were just walking with&nbsp; some kids. They were showing us their military academy and - what is this ?</p><p>WOMAN:&nbsp; ( laughs ) Our farm site.</p><p>PAUL:&nbsp; Your farm site?</p><p>WOMAN:&nbsp; Right. Just a minute&hellip;&nbsp; DEEERRIIOONNN!!&nbsp; Derrion !</p><p>Rich and I are escorted to an unassuming 25 year old, Derrion Crawford, the manager at this site.&nbsp; PAUL:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Where are we ?&nbsp; What is this?</p><p>CRAWFORD:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Uh, this is an urban farm, developed by the residents of Altgeld.Crawford is with Growing Power, a not-for-profit out of Milwaukee. They aim to help poor communities become self-sufficient by growing organic food. Since July he's been working with about 150&nbsp; people here at Altgeld -&nbsp; some who've never held jobs before. He shows them how to build raised&nbsp; planting beds with capping clay, so contaminants from this toxic ground can't leach into their organic crops. The residents make their own rich soil through composting and--&nbsp; a new concept for me&nbsp; -- vermiculture.</p><p>CRAWFORD:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Okay, vermiculture is composting, but with worms.&nbsp; So we raise the worms, red wigglers.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>PAUL:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; You're raising red wigglers?</p><p>CRAWFORD:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Yeeeppp .&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Workers are paid ten dollars an hour, thirty to forty hours per week.&nbsp; With the cold weather setting in and some attrition, they're down now to a lean crew of 40.</p><p>In their jeans, shiny ski jackets, visors and cotton hoodies, these are farmers with a layered urban look.</p><p>Even now, on the cusp of winter, this crew is able to grow plenty of&nbsp; vegetables under a semi-permeable landscape fabric. They can water their crops, without exposing them to the cold.</p><p>CRAWFORD:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Okay, so under there we got some lettuce, some spinach, lots of different type of mustard greens, mizuna, red mizuna&hellip; purple mustards. Inside of the hoop house we have some carrots growing and some arugula.</p><p>The hoop house, the building we spotted from the road, is a greenhouse, heated by the sun, that extends the growing season.&nbsp; Several of the ladies here today --&nbsp; helped put it up.</p><p>LADY 1: We put the hoop house together.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>LADY 2: Oh yeah, we all put it up together.LADY 3: We put up plastic, new posts. Do the doors. We all pitched in and helped.</p><p>LADY 2: I think lotta things that could be put together with just poles and screws and nails and-&nbsp; basic things that you would never think that you could use to build a hoop house</p><p>LADY 1: Working with your hands. That's it.</p><p>LADY 2: Just like we built the compost bins over there. You-all haven't been over there ?</p><p>I ask these workers what they've learned since they started this farm job:</p><p>LADY 3: It was new to us.</p><p>LADY 2: We learned how to fence.&nbsp; We learned how to plant crops. We learned how to do compost bins, make compost. We learned a lotta measurements..</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>CAHAN: And is this fun?</p><p>LADY 1: Yes.</p><p>CAHAN: And is it hard?</p><p>LADY 1: No.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>MAN: It's lookin' good. It's lookin' good.</p><p>Martin Tate, one of the workers here, says at first, it was hard to get people enthused about this farm.</p><p>TATE: They was, you know, a little hostile at first. But now, you know,&nbsp; they fitting in like they supposed to, because they see something. At first, you know, it was just vacant. They didn't see anything..&nbsp; And so, you know, it's kinda hard to try to tell a person, hey! this is gonna be beautiful. They don't look at that part, ( laughs ), so FADE IT UNDER</p><p>As the farm took on a physical presence, he says, there was a change.</p><p>TATE: They could visualize it, they can see it, they can feel it. And so now, it's a great thing.</p><p>PAUL: A little pride of ownership</p><p>TATE: Oh yeah.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The farm at Altgeld Gardens was started earlier this year by the Chicago Housing Authority, when it set the land aside and put in water and electrical lines. But the project was jump-started when it hooked up with Put Illinois To Work, a state program that has hired about 26- thousand people state-wide since last spring.</p><p>80% of its money came from President Obama's federal stimulus program, but that ran out on September 30.&nbsp; Democrats in Washington tried to extend the funding, but Republicans blocked it.</p><p>So, in a controversial move -- given all of Illinois' unpaid bills -- Governor Quinn kept the program alive with a $75 million infusion of state funding. And that money runs out November 30, about a week from now.&nbsp;</p><p>Nobody knows whether the state, or the U.S. Congress, will provide any more money, but the CHA says it's committed to keeping about ten workers on throughout the winter, even if it has to pay the salaries itself.</p><p>ALFRED: Everybody listen !&nbsp; I need everybody's attention!</p><p>After working several hours out in the cold, some of these farmers retire to an empty CHA unit that's being used for a culinary arts class.</p><p>ALFRED:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; This is a Vitamix machine. It's about a four to five hundred dollar machine. ( FADE IT UNDER)</p><p>Camilla Alfred, one of the instructors with Growing Power, is trying to convince these workers to look at food differently.</p><p>ALFRED:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Of course you know I brought our own water. So you not going to fill it up all the way. At least half way to get it started.</p><p>And what's on the lesson board for today? Smoothies.</p><p>Sound of Vitamix mixing&nbsp;</p><p>ALFRED:&nbsp; Thick as you want it. Or loose as you want it. (&nbsp; FADE IT UNDER )</p><p>She wants to introduce them to green living- to eating more fruits and vegetables. But sometimes it's a hard sell:ALFRED:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; You wanna take me from my fries, pork chops, polish sausages ? Yeah, I am. And I'm not tryin' to turn anyone to a vegetarian. I just want you to eat healthier. We're&nbsp; basically comin' out&nbsp; teaching them&nbsp; how to grow their own food, you know sustainability. Dunno, cuz if you notice- I don't know if you've been around in the Garden.&nbsp; There's not a grocery store out here.&nbsp; We have maybe 2 clinics out here, 2 pharmacies &amp; a liquor store - so where's the food ? &nbsp;</p><p>The workers at this urban farm dearly hope that it gets a new lease on life and that their jobs are prolonged. Partly cuz they need the income. And partly for their community.</p><p>Cahan :&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; How do you think this'll change Altgeld?</p><p>LADY 2: It'll help us a lot. Cuz we only had that store up there. And you know, they chargin' us so much, that now we get the chance to grow our own crops and vegetables. And we can market and sell and give back to the community, that they took out from the community.</p><p>Last Monday a Chicago Public Library opened at Altgeld Gardens. A new charter high school opened in September.&nbsp; A planned extension of the CTA's red line could bring the new south terminal within walking distance of most residents. Meanwhile, the remodeling program continues, with more than half of the 2000 units fully rehabbed.</p><p>But there's still no bank, no post office - and as we've heard - no place within the development to buy fresh groceries. Problems made even worse by the fact that about 60% of households have no car and - last time the Census Bureau checked - about 40% of these households have incomes below 10-thousand dollars a year.Given all that, a grocery store within Altgeld Gardens seems like a reasonable expectation.</p><p>For WBEZ, with Richard Cahan&hellip;. I'm Linda Paul</p><p><em>Music Button:&nbsp; Orgone, &quot;Dramatic Times&quot;, from the CD Killion Vaults, (Ubiquity)</em></p></p> Mon, 22 Nov 2010 14:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/audio-slideshow-new-garden-altgeld