Podcast: NPR’s Intelligence Squared, Is Organic Hype?

“Six debaters, three against three, will be debating this motion: Organic Food is Marketing Hype”

“Now this is a debate, it is not panel discussion or seminar. It is a debate, someone will win and someone will lose.”

That is the intro to the latest debate from NPR’s Intelligence Squared.

I love these debates after picking one up on who is to blame for the Mexican Drug War. They are fun and fascinating, and also heavily liberal.

I do love how they present multiple points of view. They stick to the debate format which includes opening statements, closing ones, and an open question and argue period.

Check out the video and lower on the page are the briefs, audio versions, and an iTunes link.

More Info

photo by Melanie Defazio

Arlington Farmers Markets

We love our Arlington Farmers Markets.

Arlington, VA has six farmers markets on everyday except mondays and fridays. They are some of my favorites in the Washington DC region. Open after work and on your lunch break they are ideal for shopping. Go ahead and give them a chance and let me know what you experience.

Also, if you you’re interested in other regional markets I have included on this page the DC and Alexandria farmers markets (and a brochure too). They provide an incredible array of markets with diverse products at many times of the day and week.

-

Arlington Farmers Markets

-

Fridays

none

-

Saturdays

Arlington Market at Courthouse – 8-12pm – Year Round
Courthouse Metro (1 block south)

-

Sundays

Columbia Pike – 9-1pm – Year Round
S. Walter Reed Dr at Columbia Pike

Mondays

None

-

Tuesdays

Crystal City – 3-7pm – May to Oct
Crystal Drive – 18 to 20th St

-

Wednesdays

Clarendon – 2-7pm – Year Round
Clarendon Metro

-

Thursdays

Rosslyn – 11-3pm – May to Oct
Wilson Blvd/N. Oak St- Rosslyn Metro

Ballston – 3-7pm – May to Oct
Wellburn Square, 9th/N. Stuart, 1 block south Ballston Metro

-

Alexandria Farmers Markets

-

Fridays

none

-

Saturdays

Old Town Alexandria – 5-10:30am – all year
Market Square/City Hall, 301 King Street

Del Ray Alexandria – 8-12pm – till dec
East Oxford & Mount Vernon Ave

-

Sundays

West End Alexandria – 9-1pm – May to Nov
4800 Brenman Park Drive

-

Mondays

None

-

Tuesdays

none

-

Wednesdays

King Street Alexandria – 3-7pm – May to Oct
1806 King Street, King St Metro

-

Thursdays

none

-

DC Farmers Markets

-

Fridays

USDA People’s Garden – 10-2pm – Jun to Oct
12th/Independence Ave – Smithsonian Metro

-

Saturdays

Eastern Market – 7-6pm – Year Round
225 7th ST, SE – Eastern Market Metro

14th & U St – 9-1pm – May to Nov
14th/U St – U St/Cardozo Metro

Adams Morgan – 8-1pm – Apr to Dec
18th/Columbia, NW

Silver Spring – 9-1pm – Apr to Dec
951 Ellsworth Dr – Silver Spring Metro

H Street – 9-12pm – May to Nov
625 H St, NE – Union Station Metro, (5 blocks away)

Chevy Chase – 9-1pm – Apr to Nov
Broad Branch Rd/N Hampton St, NW

Bethesda – 9-1pm – Jun to Oct
Norfolk Ave at Veteran’s Park, Bethesda Station Metro

-

Sundays

Dupont - 9-1pm – Year Round
1500 20th St – Dupont Metro

Eastern Market – 9-5pm – Year Round
225 7th ST, SE – Eastern Market Metro

Bloomingdale – 10-2pm – May to Nov
1st/R St, NW – Shaw/NY Metro

Takoma Park – 10-2pm – Year Round
Carroll/Laurel Ave – Takoma Park Metro

-

Mondays

None

-

Tuesdays

New Morning – 4-8pm – Jun to Sep
36th/Alton Place – Sheridan School

-

Wednesdays

Foggy Bottom – 2:30-7pm – Apr to Nov
Foggy Bottom Metro – 2400 I St/New Hampshire

Health and Human Services – 2:30-6:30pm – Jun to Oct
200 Independence Ave, SW – Federal Center Metro

Crossroads – 3-7pm – Jun to Oct
Holton Lane/New Hampshire (Takoma Park)

-

Thursdays

Penn Quarter – 3-7pm – Apr to Dec
450 8th St, NW – Chinatown/Archives Metro

White House – 3-7pm – May to Nov
810 Vermont Ave, NW – McPherson Square Metro

-

Farmers Market Brochure

To help you find all these markets A Clean Life offers a brochure (link below) listing them by day/hour/metro.

Lower on the page you will find a comprehensive list of all markets in the DC metro region.

Untitled 2pdf of brochure for download —-  high res screenshot

The Case for Local Food

Here is a food claim may shock you.

Farmers markets offer food that is three times better for you than supermarkets.

A study published in September 2007 by the Organic Center discovered this startling fact after looking into our modern food system. They had a theory that food has changed since the 1950s, before the industrial food revolution. To test this they gathered seeds from the 1950s and today, grew them to harvest, and compared their nutrient values.

In nearly every category our modern food was lacking. The study gets complicated and covers many areas, so an easy way to sum it up is this. Industrial food producers grow crops for quantity. They want to grow more every year and have increased their production by incredible amounts (400x!). The unfortunate consequence of this massive growth is their food quality has dropped.

The quality vs quantity difference is on average 3x.

It’s a seminal piece of work, or has the potential to be. It could explain our obesity epidemic since we are eating three times more food than we used to. It could explain why so many people dislike healthy food in favor of fast food. It could even explain why healthy food cost more.

Imagine our obesity epidemic if we all ate 1/3 less.

Imagine how different vegetables would taste if they are three times as rich.

Imagine if you had to purchase 1/3 less food. Most folks say that healthy food costs twice as much. Do the math and if you’re buying 1/3 less and spending twice as much it is still cheaper.

Combine these three and you have the perfect solution. A diet that is cheap, tasty, and healthy. If this is true it also supports local economies, small business, and drastically reduces our environmental waste.

Here is the kicker. In America we do not subsidize fruits and vegetables, but we do subsidize fast food. Imagine how this whole equation could change if we made fast food more expensive and fruits and vegetables cheaper.

This is the case for local food.

Try It Out

No more imagining. Test this study out in real life. Find the quality food. See if it fills you up, gives you energy, and saves you money. It has for me and hundreds of my friends.

Here are a few recommendations to help you find quality food:

Fruits/Vegetables – farmers markets. They offer items that are picked at their peak. Grown in ideal conditions. Sold at their freshest. Every other place, including supermarkets, offer declining levels of quality.

Grains/Beans/Nuts – only buy from the bulk sections at Whole Foods and other health food stores. Sometimes also sold at farmers markets.

Meat/Seafood/Dairy – sold at farmers markets and Whole Foods (health stores). The key is to buy items that are raised cleanly and sold fresh.

Dining Out: A Clean Life-style

I’m proud to announce a new feature!

With Washington, DC’s burgeoning local food movement, more and more restaurants are offering seasonal fare from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and yeah, sometimes West Virginia.

While local offerings at becoming increasingly popular, there are still hurdles. Wine is a foregone conclusion (there are local wines?), asking where food comes from is considered rude (it’s a just a carrot, ok!), and trying to leave without a piece of styrofoam…good luck with that.

It is such an incredible experience that Amy and I are hooked. We’ll be visiting all the sustainable establishments in the region and reporting back to you.

In a new feature called, Dining Out: A Clean Life-Style, Amy will be writing reviews of our dining adventures, chef interviews, and even stories of the dirty underbelly of the local food scene.

As a writer and critic, Amy is quite talented: she has earned the respect of the best local chefs, has a keen eye for vibe and atmosphere, a deep understanding of local food, farmers, and sustainability, and, of course, she has a great way with words (including a new screenplay coming out soon).

Check out her first review of the newest restaurant on the scene, Eola!

The USDA Wants You To “Know Your Farmer”

This morning I was fortunate to attend new media press event with Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. A small group of us took a short trip outside of Washing DC to Tree and Leaf Farm. Which is exactly 47 miles away from the Dupont Farmers Market in the city, according to co-owner Georgia O’Neal.

The reason for this farm adventure was to launch a very special program for the USDA, called Know Your Farmer Know Your Food. The details of which are still coming out. DepSec Merrigan did clue us in on the plan which includes a weeklong series of programs, announcements, and events. With the culminating event being the official opening of a farmers market one block away from the White HouseThough for new media fans, on Friday Kathleen Merrigan will be entertaining a live facebook chat.

I am betting that for the rest of the country the white house farmers market will be the big hit. It’s an easily condensible byte of news and I expect it to hit all the major networks this Thursday and throughout the weekend. The news for farmers should be a big hit as well since it announces many new plans for grants, guides, and programs. All in support of the campaign promises of Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s idea of “wealth creation” in rural communities.

Tree and Leaf

Tree and Leaf Farm

News aside, it was quite refreshing to visit one of DC’s regional farms the Tree and Leaf. The farm is run by Zach Lester and Georgia O’Neal who offer their bounty on Saturday’s at the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market and on Sunday at the Dupont Market. They have 5 acres of land and according to Zach produce a wide variety of crops.

They are definitely into the Organic movement, though I would say they better align with Joel Salatin’s credo of “beyond organic”. Even in our short time Zach dropped into biodynamics, the five folds of nature, the importance of compost, and more.

Their story gets more interesting as you dig into it. Their farm operations include several employees and one farm manager who helps with the direct marketing (getting the food sold), on only five acres of land!

Georgia and Zach

The land is is rented on a year-to-year lease. This is causing them some hardship since Organic farming requires a few years investment to get into place and not having a multi-year deal means they may expend money and sweat for no reason. It also deters them from making infrastructure improvements to increase their food quality, type, and length (growing in deep season, winter).

Their food is sold in markets and CSA’s in DC, but rarely in their own county. Both lamented the fact that the new Loudon County residents rarely get out of their cars to participate in the community. They are locked into the same problem the rest of the country has, trucking their food outside of their community while others simultaneously truck in low quality, unhealthy food for supermarkets.

The farm was truly a beautiful place to be. Zach’s landscaping skills make it a beautiful scene. Both he and Georgia make quite a team on the farm and their little boy, who I really thought looks like Conan the Barbarian in training.

Politics as NOT Usual

It seems that the politics of food has changed. It is now okay to talk about the inequities in our food system. It is even okay to till your own organic garden, start a farmers market, and even shop at one. This is reflected in the seemingly out of nowhere White House push for organic gardening and a farmers market.

Still the vast majority of Americans are lost in these markets which means we have a long way to go. A large amount of education is needed to bring back proper eating into the consciousness of the public. Hopefully, this new USDA program and high profile maneuvers from the White House will start the awareness. Like my Mom always reminds me, its a process, and we can’t erase bad habits overnight.

photo (2)
From Zach: "the structure is a rebar bean tunnel with swiss chard growing underneath"

Keep an eye out for more news as the week rolls on. Check out fellow foodie and blogger Obama Foodorama who also joined us on the farm trip.