Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rooftop Farming; Change Comes to Kids First

First, the New York Times reports on rooftop gardens, which I have been saying for a while is the best way to bring health and change to the food desserts in inner cities. We still need to reclaim some of the urban sprawl for farmers--especially for small animal farms--but producing food in the middle of the city on existing infrastructure makes so much sense that I imagine it will sell itself.

Inner cities have become hotbeds for childhood obesity and family disconnect, but the acts of gardening, cooking and eating have been community-building activities for millenia. Bringing back real food and family meals could help rebuild some of our most impoverished. According to Shawnee Mission School District nurse, Nancy Nicolay, who is occasionally prone to hyperbole, some of the worst neighborhoods in Kansas City have been transformed by the simple act of planting a community garden.

Speaking of schools, it looks like the cafeteria might be seeing some of the most attention from the Obama administration. While the President has made some minor concessions to the growing number of food activists, such as a White House organic garden and whathaveyou, I have yet to hear anything that makes me think radical change is coming to the industrial food complex.

Michelle Obama, on the other hand, seems to be the one who will be spearheading this issue. She recently said:
"To make sure that we give all our kids a good start to their day and to their future, we need to improve the quality and nutrition of the food served in schools. We’re approaching the first big opportunity to move this to the top of the agenda with the upcoming reauthorization of the child nutrition programs. In doing so, we can go a long way towards creating a healthier generation for our kids."
It's great to hear that the First Lady wants to put healthy and safey on the top of the agenda. She has said that her own children, representatives of our next generation, have been lecturing her about what to eat and have encouraged her to change her eating habits. Hopefully, Mrs. Obama will have the chance to speak with Ann Cooper, the revolutionary lunch lady who tranformed the Berkeley school lunch system and is now headed for Boulder.

Though the dark forces who want to keep things the way they are will come up with a thousand reasons why it's impossible to change our agricultural system, it will much harder to argue that we shouldn't be feeding our kids better while they're at school. The school lunch reauthorization is a great opportunity to fight obesity before it's already hit and to set up the future generation with knowledge about what food actually is.

1 comment:

  1. I just saw thee KC Powell garden "Harvest Garden". Michael Pollen wasn't gushing about nothing. Even in 100 plus degree weather it is an amazing installation. This is garden is a reason to take a side trip to KC and an example for the world. I would love to see it from the air. Much of it is designed like a quilt and as we watched the workers it is clearly only just beginning even though they have worked on it for 5 years already. Why doesn't my neighborhood look like this. Check out www.kccua.org and the tour this weekend for some amazing urban farms.