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Entries in USDA (3)


The People's Summit: Bernie Sanders, Divest Your Plate!

I'm thrilled to be going to the People's Summit in Chicago next week. Today, the organizers gave us a chance to submit a question to Senator Bernie Sanders, who will be the keynote speaker on Saturday. Here's what I wrote:

Dear Senator Sanders, our diet feeds climate change, high health care costs, and personal misery. According to the United Nations, animal agriculture is the largest source of greenhouse gases. Few Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables to ward off preventable cases of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and early death. What steps would you take to change our agricultural subsidies, public food purchases, and nutrition education to move Americans toward a more plant-based diet?

This question seems more important than ever now that the United States has shamefully pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords. If our government won't work with the rest of the world to avert environmental disaster, then it's up to us. We can make a real difference by voting with our forks.

Divest Your Plate: Local, Organic, Plants, Fair Labor, Less Waste

My Dream Answer

Here's an answer that would have me dancing in the aisle at the People's Summit. Bernie, please feel free to use it. Everyone else, please share.

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Homegrown by Heroes program to roll out nationwide, says Vilsack

Produce will start looking patriotic if U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has his way. In a conference call today, he praised Kentucky's Homegrown by Heroes branding campaign, which could soon be in all fifty states. Red, white, and blue labels help shoppers know when food has been grown by farmers who previously served our country in the military. Farming provides a way for veterans to continue serving their country through meaningful work.

Homegrown by Heroes logo

Secretary Vilsack urged Congress to expedite work on the Farm Bill to support programs for veterans who want to return to their rural roots. Programs include microloans to farmers, support for farmers' markets and food hubs where their harvests can be sold, and education to help reduce risks. For example, Michael O'Gorman, Executive Director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, said the coalition held its second annual Conference for Women Veterans in Agriculture last weekend. Other programs help wounded veterans find therapeutic value in agricultural work.

Most veterans in the program are growing "almost exclusively vegetables," including broccoli and kale. The Secretary predicts that most veterans will go into small scale, high value crops rather than commodities, especially if they didn't come from farming families.

When I asked if they were seeing participants focus on organic and sustainable techniques, Secretary Vilsack replied that these methods added value to crops that could help veterans earn good incomes from farming. He said that veterans, like other farmers, could take advantage of other ...

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USDA's Choose My Plate vs. my hummus wrap

The U.S. Department of Agriculture takes another big step forward by moving from the food pyramid to the more memorable Choose My Plate graphic and program. I love that the plate is half fruits and vegetables.

But for many Cook for Good meals, the different types of food are not so easily separated. For example, yesterday I put together this hummus wrap. Deconstructed, it resembles the USDA plate. I did drink water instead of milk.

Making the wrap is easy: just spread hummus, grated carrots, and shredded purple cabbage on a flour tortilla and wrap it up, folding in the sides after the first half turn. I grated twice as much veg as needed and made a quick pickle out of them for today.

Cut the hummus wrap in half at a slant for a fancier look that is also easier to bite than a wrap that's been cut straight across.

Moral of the story? You don't need be the kid who won't let his peas touch his potatoes to eat a balanced diet.