Please join with us today to call on Dr. Deasy and Board members to make better food in Los Angeles schools a priority.
The above-named organizations and other community members have joined together to make this easy: visit the School Food Letter website to send your message today!
The LAUSD serves 650,000 meals every day. With childhood obesity and diabetes reaching epidemic proportions, better school food is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.
While the LAUSD has made progress in improving the nutritional content of school food, much work remains to be done. Meals contain far too much added sugar, highly processed foods are the norm, and students aren’t learning about food, nutrition, and gardening in ways that will teach them how to make healthier choices.
Taking the opportunity presented by the broadcast of Season 2 of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and the arrival of a new superintendent, John Deasy, Slow Food Los Angeles has joined with several Los Angeles organizations to support improvements to the LAUSD’s school breakfast and lunch programs and to the District’s overall approach to food: in its lunchrooms, in its classrooms, in its outdoor spaces, and in the halls of its headquarters.
As Emily Ventura noted in her recent Los Angeles Times op-ed, a holistic view of the food options presented by the LAUSD is badly needed. Unfortunately, financial constraints, a lack of support for change at the Board level, and the perception of public indifference have contributed to a status quo that puts the health of LAUSD students in jeopardy.
Further, the current breakfast and lunch programs do little to help children develop healthy eating habits. Rather than using the school food program as an opportunity to teach children healthy eating habits and more—where food comes from and how it is grown—the school food program has become another exercise in efficiency: How to fill children with calories and get them in and out of the lunchroom with the least amount of cost, fuss, or muss.
Representatives of the LAUSD have said that change requires public support. So in that spirit, beginning today, Slow Food Los Angeles will be calling on its members and friends to share their opinions with Dr. Deasy, members of the LAUSD board, and their fellow citizens.
Step 1: Help us distribute a lesson plan to teachers as part of a coordinated effort to help students share their experiences with school food, and share those letters with Dr. Deasy and the School Board.
The lesson plan can be downloaded here. It can be used to lead students in writing short letters. Student letters should be mailed to:
USC Childhood Obesity Research Center
2250 Alcazar Street, CSC 200
Los Angeles, CA 90033
by April 18 for group delivery to LAUSD. Alternatively, contact emilyventura [at] gmail [dot] com to arrange for another pickup option.
Saturday, April 9, 2011:GOOD LA is hosting a series events for its launch weekend, and from noon until 5pm Atwater Crossing (3229 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles) will be the site of a pop-up community center. As their website notes, the event will feature “DIY workshops, home ec classes, a local marketplace, hack-a-thons, field trips, and a bartering center.” Other events are planned for Friday, April 8, and Sunday, April 10; for more information, visit the GOOD LA website for details as they develop.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011: You may have read about the controversies surrounding the production of the show and Jamie Oliver’s clashes with the LAUSD, or heard Jamie Oliver talk about what he hopes to accomplish with the show and his behind-the-scenes efforts. The first episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, filmed in and around Los Angeles, airs on April 12 on ABC.
Thursday, April 14, 2011: May Berenbaum, friend of Slow Food Los Angeles and one of the world’s foremost entomologists, will deliver a public lecture at the University of Southern California on the occasion of her being awarded the 2011 Tyler Environmental Prize. Professor Berenbaum’s lecture will be held in the Davidson Conference Center on USC’s campus and is scheduled to begin at 2:00pm. More information about the Tyler Prize and Professor Berenbaum’s significant contributions, including into the causes of colony collapse disorder, are available in a separate post.
Saturday & Sunday, April 16-17, 2011: Artisanal LA returns, and April’s edition will be held in Santa Monica. Advance tickets will be $10; at-the-door tickets will be $15. A full slate of demonstrations and vendors will be posted shortly on the Artisanal LA website.
Sunday, April 17, 2011: The next meeting of the Seed Library of Los Angeles (SLOLA) will be held at The Learning Garden on the Venice High School campus (Venice Boulevard and Walgrove Avenue). The meeting is scheduled to begin at 2:30pm; information about membership, donations sought, and the group’s purpose and activities is available on the SLOLA website.
The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement is an internationally distinguished award in the fields of environmental science, environmental health, and energy. Established in 1973, the Tyler Prize has been awarded annually to outstanding contributors in their fields: E.O. Wilson, Jane Goodall, Jared Diamond, George Schaller, and Stuart Pimm are among its recipients.
Professor Berenbaum’s receipt of the 2011 prize is cause for special celebration due to her timely and important research into colony collapse disorder and the crucial need to identify the threat to honeybees and other pollinators.
On February 9, 2011, as part of its Visions and Voices initiative, the University of Souther California hosted a conversation among Evan Kleiman, Michael Pollan, and Eric Schlosser that covered a number of perennial and current food issues: legislation including the recently passed Food Safety Act, the national school lunch program, and the upcoming Farm Bill; the role of Walmart and the increasing influence of major retailers on what’s grown, how it’s processed, and how it’s priced and distributed; GMOs and related regulations; and the ability of individual consumers to bring about change in our food system.
KCRW is now making available the video of the complete event (just over 90 minutes in length), which we’ve embedded below.
Reminder: Tonight, Thursday, March 10, 2011: We look forward to seeing many Slow Food Los Angeles members and friends at the screening of the documentary film Ingredients at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. Following the film, please stay for a discussion with Felicia Friesema (L.A. Weekly), Alex Weiser (Weiser Family Farms) and Martha Rose Shulman (author, New York Times contributor, and cofounder of the Venice Cooking School). The film begins at 7:30pm; more information is available in our original announcement.
Saturday, March 12, 2011: The Culinary Historians of Southern California present Andrew F. Smith on How Food Won the Civil War and Potato: A Rags to Riches Story. This free event starts at 10:30am in the Mark Taper Auditorium of the Downtown Central Library, 630 West 5th Street. For more information, visit the CHSC website.
Saturday, March 12, 2011: Mud Baron, Los Angeles’s fearless school garden resource wrangler, has organized a 10,000-plant giveaway for school garden representatives at the Micheltorena Elementary School in Silverlake starting at 4:30pm. 1511 Micheltorena Street, Los Angeles 90026.
Sunday, March 13, 2011: The Milagro Allegro Garden in Highland Park is hosting a “No Bare Root Tree Left Behind” event from noon until 2:30. This free giveaway will include Nonpareil Almond, Ne Plus Ultra Almond, Anna Apple, Royal Apricot, Black Mission Fig, Desert Delight Nectarine, Tropic Snow Peach, Florida Prince Peach, Stark Saturn Peach, Monterrey Pear, Fan Sil Pear, Dwarf Santa Rosa Plum and Beauty Plum trees. Donations to the Garden are strongly encouraged; review the Garden’s announcement flyer for more information. Also: Mud Baron will be on hand to give away 50,000 organic vegetable and ornamental seedlings (seed plugs) for school garden representatives.
Sunday, March 13, 2011: The Seed Library of Los Angeles (SLOLA) will hold its fourth general meeting on Sunday, March 13, at 2:30pm at the Venice High School Garden. All are welcome; lifetime membership is $10. The group is still in the early stages of its formation, so organizers invite you to share seeds, promote education about seed saving, and help with other administrative tasks. For more information, visit the SLOLA website.
Monday, March 14, 2011: This week’s “Closed on Mondays” dinner at Canele (3219 Glendale Boulevard in the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles) benefits the Milagro Allegro Community Garden, which continues to develop its programs that serve the Highland Park community and beyond. For $35 (cash only) you’ll enjoy a three-course, market-driven, Mexico-inspired dinner. No reservations are accepted; tables are on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit the Closed on Mondays website.
Friday through Sunday, March 18-20, 2011: The Watts Towers Common Ground Initiative presents “Communal Tables: Practicing Hospitality, Sustainability” through its St. Joseph’s Table, which honors the Sicilian food altar tradition to feed the poor, to practice hospitality, and to welcome strangers to the table. For more information, visit the Watts Towers page for this event.
In cooperation with the American Cinematheque, Slow Food Los Angeles is delighted to host a screening of Ingredients, a documentary that seasonally explores how farmers, ranchers, chefs, and consumers are cooperating to create more sustainable food systems across the United States and to revitalize the connection between food, our local communities, and our health.
When: Thursday, March 10, 2011 beginning at 7:30pm Where: The Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica Cost: Tickets range from $7.00 to $11.00 and are available online or at the Aero Theatre box office.
Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth, Ingredients features Joan Dye Gussow, Gary Paul Nabhan, Alice Waters, and many other farmers, cooks, and vintners who have contributed their stories. Rather than focusing on what’s wrong with our food system, the makers of Ingredients chose to celebrate the success stories of sustainable agriculture, and to show how alliances between farmers and chefs and between community members, CSAs, and those who grow their food can yield a range of benefits.
Special thanks to to Slow Food member Corinne Bourdeau, an executive producer of the film, for coordinating this screening on behalf of Slow Food Los Angeles.
Today’s Los Angeles Times features an op-ed by Emily Ventura on the need to pay closer attention to the sugar content in school food:
Soft drinks were banned in Los Angeles schools in 2004. But if you think that means kids are protected from too much sugar at school, think again. Children are regularly able to select a school breakfast that contains more added sugar than a can of soda. A popular breakfast offering of Frosted Flakes doused in chocolate milk with a side of coffee cake and a carton of orange juice contains 51 grams of added sugar (or 79 grams of total sugar counting those that occur naturally in the milk and the juice). A 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar.
. . .
. . . [N]either federal nor district standards limit the overall sugar content of school meals. Even the newly proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture school food guidelines, which are open for public comment until April 13, don’t include specific limits on sugar. Rather, they state that though added sugars should be limited, they may be included as long as the menus meet caloric guidelines.
The dates for the 21st TOMATOMANIA! sales in California have been announced, and for those who grow their own tomatoes and enjoy discovering new varieties, these are events not to be missed. This year, sales will be held:
++ March 25, 26, and 27, 2011, 9:00am until 5:00pm–almost 300 varieties of seedlings, and if you wear your Tomatomania! t-shirt you’ll get 10% off your purchase
The Tapia Brothers’ Farm Stand
5251 Hayvenhurst Avenue in Encino
Emily Ventura shares an update on Slow Food Los Angeles’s social action efforts on the school lunch issue:
Last Monday’s rally to support a reduction in sugar in the LAUSD food was a success! Thanks to the Slow Food LA members who participated. Mary MacVean of the Los Angeles Times covered the event, and her article is available online.
This is just the start of the advocacy needed to reduce the overall sugar served at schools and to improve the quality of school food in general. More information about specific ways to get involved will be shared soon. In the meantime, if you have ideas or would like to get involved, please contact Emily Ventura at gallonofsugar [at] gmail [dot] com.
As part of a recent YouTube interview, President Obama responded to questions posed by individuals about a range of issues. Of more than 140,000 questions submitted, a simple one posed by Slow Food USA president Josh Viertel was selected. Josh had the opportunity to put it directly to the President: Why is it cheaper to feed children Froot Loops than it is to feed them fruit? The question and the President’s answer are captured in the following video:
In describing the President’s response, Josh noted:
President Obama didn’t use the opportunity to answer our concerns, nor did he speak to our hopes. He didn’t talk about how he was going to make it easier to access fruit than Froot Loops. He didn’t talk about how he was going to reduce federal support for the crops that are most damaging to our health and environment, and he didn’t talk about what he was going to do to increase support for a sustainable food system. The president didn’t talk about taking on the massive consolidation in agribusiness that makes it cheaper and easier to get unhealthy processed food than it is to buy whole ingredients. Though he touched on it, he didn’t talk about addressing food insecurity in any meaningful way and he didn’t talk about the power of citizens as shoppers … or as voters.
Instead, he talked about Walmart.
Kim Severson will launch the paperback edition of her memoir, Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life, in the Los Angeles area, and we encourage Slow Food Los Angeles members and friends to attend a reading and booksigning:
When: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 beginning at 7:00pm Where: Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena Cost: Free admission and parking; copies of Spoon Fed will be available for purchase.
Spoon Fed reflects one of the best aspects of being involved in food and the food movement: Developing friendships and learning more about ourselves and others over a good meal. Kim’s chapters reflect on how she’s been influenced by Leah Chase, Marion Cunningham, Marcella Hazan, Edna Lewis, Rachael Ray, Ruth Reichl, Anne Zappa Severson, and Alice Waters.
The author of The Trans Fat Solution: Cooking and Shopping to Eliminate the Deadliest Fat from Your Diet, The New Alaska Cookbook: Recipes from the Last Frontier’s Best Chefs, and a host of excellent and provocative articles in The New York Times, Kim is now the Atlanta bureau chief for The New York Times. Previously she has been a dining writer for the Times and wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle on cooking and food culture. She has won four James Beard awards for food writing.
We’re sharing the book trailer below, and look forward to seeing many friends on March 1st.