Food Policy

A New Diners’ Guide Looks Not at Food or Service, but at Your Waiter’s Quality of Life

In case you missed it last Thursday, we just wanted to point your attention to a brand-new national diner’s guide–but unlike those from Zagat or Michelin, when this one considers the staff, it’s not thinking of service. Instead, the new National Diners’ Guide 2012: A Consumer Guide on the Working Conditions of America’s Restaurants evaluates whether 150 of popular restaurants around the country provide paid sick days, pay at least $9 per hour to non-tipped workers and at least $5 to tipped workers, and provide opportunities for workers to advance. The guide, from the non-profit restaurant worker group called Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (or ROC), is available free online right here.

Give Thanks for This: The “Secret Farm Bill” Has Failed, Paves Way Local Food, Farms and Jobs Act

In the 1930s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw that American farmers were producing too much; they weren’t earning off their extra work or surplus. In came the New Deal with the first-ever Farm Bill, set to end overproduction by paying farmers to grow less. In the ’70s, a man named Earl Butz, Secretary of Agriculture at the time, thought that idea was nuts, and so he paid farmers instead to “get big or get out”–referring of course to farming by the thousands of acres and those devoted to just a few crops. It was a perfectly good idea at the time for a country still discovering the value of its land and thenew global marketplace, which seemed to have no problem taking on the surplus. We couldn’t know then what has happened, which has also included farmers growing more crops for secondary, inedible products like corn syrup and cow feed rather than feeding us.

Want to Stop the “Secret Farm Bill” and Subsidies? Sign Slow Food’s Local Food, Farms and Jobs Act

I sat down to a friend’s dinner table last week with a hunk of acorn squash roasted in brown butter, a mixed greens salad with a yogurt vinaigrette, root vegetable fritters, various jars of home-pickled and home-jammed produce, bread with goat cheese and red wine (a nice spicy one, for under 20 bucks)–all grown or produced within 30 miles. The meal was made by a 20-something farm intern in upstate New York, who’d love to hear good news next week. That’s when The Farm Bill, renewed every five years (most recently in 2008), might reach the legislature more than a year before it should.

A New Farm Grows in Brownsville; Score a $2,000 City Grant to Build More Just Like It

Over the past few years we’ve watched as parents and teachers with a knack for turning parking lots into produce launch a slew of mini farm projects at New York City Public schools. One of those is Nora Painten, the Carroll Gardens teacher who is starting an $8,000 square foot garden project (complete with a chicken coop) in Brownsville with help from students and teachers at nearby P.S. 323. We hosted the teacher/farmer on our HeritageRadioNetwork.com show Monday night, where she spoke about how she scored a contract to garden on the land from the city and is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the Brownsville Student Farm Project’s first spring in 2012.

Tomorrow at Zuccotti Park, Marion Nestle and Anna Lappe Speak at Occupy Against Big Food; Plus 5 Articles to Read Before You Go

For those seeking a way to use Occupy Wall Street as a way to discuss much-needed shifts in public food policy, be sure to head to the entrance of Zuccotti Park at 140 Broadway tomorrow at 1 p.m. for “Occupy Against Big Food.” If you can’t attend–it goes till 4 p.m.–Food Democracy Now is asking you to at least write a message of support for event. They’ve also sent out a list of interesting articles about Occupy and its relationship to food policy and reform, which we’re going to post right here.