farm market

BG_FB_Gala profilelogoby Cheryl Kollin

It’s hard to visualize $165 billion. That’s the value of food wasted in the U.S. annually. It is also hard to grasp the staggering amount of food — 246,000 tons that is wasted right here in Montgomery County every year. The enormity of food waste hit home for me watching farmers donate many bathtub-sized grey bins of their unsold, perfectly good vegetables and fruit at the end of a bustling Sunday at the Olney Farmers Market.

While there are many active food recovery programs in our community, 23% of food in Montgomery County is still being wasted, while 82,000 people do not know where their next meal will come from. A new initiative called Community Food Rescue aims to build a coordinated countywide system that fulfills the vision of the Montgomery County Council, County Executive Ike Leggett, and the on-going efforts of the Montgomery County Food Council’s Food Recovery Working Group.

Read more here. View our short introduction film. Follow us on Facebook.

Cheryl Kollin is program manager for Community Food Rescue.

Food_Day_2013_Facebook_logoFood Day is tomorrow, Thursday, October 24, 2013, a nationwide celebration.

Food Day is a grassroots movement to promote healthy, affordable, and sustainable food systems and policies.  It’s also about celebrating and eating real food. This means cutting back on sugar drinks, overly salted packaged foods, and fatty, factory-farmed meats in favor of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and sustainably raised protein.

Why is this important?

Let’s look at some alarming facts associated with poor diet and broken food systems.

Food consumption and addiction to sugarDonations_cropped

  • Food consumption is increasing on a global scale—from 2,250 calories per person per day in 1961 to 2,750 calories in 2007 to a projected 3,070 calories by 2050.
  • In 1900, the U.S. consumed about 5 pounds of sugar per person annually.  By 2000, that increased to about 150 pounds of sugar per person annually, with 61 pounds of that coming from high fructose corn syrup.
  • The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar every day, while the average 14- 18-year-old consumes 32 teaspoons.

Obesity—Just one of the many medical conditions linked to our poor diet.

  • 1 out of every 3 people in the U.S. are either overweight or obese.
  • The percentage of American children aged 6-19 who are obese has tripled since 1980.
  • 47% of Americans will be obese by 2030.
  • Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer. The annual medical cost for obesity is about $150 billion.

How about our broken food system?DSCN4590

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service estimates that 23.5 million people live in food deserts. More than half of them (13.5 million) are low-income. With no other options, people living in food deserts get most of their meals from fast food restaurants.
  • 1 in 6 people in America face hunger. Over 20 million children receive free or reduced-price lunch each school day. Less than half of them get breakfast and only 10 percent have access to summer feeding sites.
  • 40% of food in the U.S. today goes uneaten.  This wasted food could feed more than 25 million Americans every year.  The U.S. now wastes 50% more food than in the 1970s.
  • 74% of farm subsidies goes to 10% of the largest farms, many of which pay little attention to protecting the environment.


1. Shop at your local farmer’s markets and support local, sustainable agriculture. Here’s a list of well-known farmer’s markets within the Montgomery County area.

2. If limited resources affect your ability to purchase healthy foods, check out “Good Food on a Tight Budget.” It  has a list of reasonably-priced healthy foods grown and prepared using few pesticides, contaminants, and artificial ingredients.

3. Not sure how to prepare your healthy groceries? Food Day’s Eat Real Cookbook has lots of examples of easy, healthy meals you can cook at home. Better yet, cook with your kids and teach them the importance of healthy eating.

4. Try Meatless Mondays and learn more about why it’s a smart option and how you can do it.

5. Educate yourself about what you should eat.  Answer these questions and find out how your typical diet impacts your health, the environment, and animal welfare.

6. Get involved in local food banks and homeless shelters. What about organizing a food drive? You and your kids can also donate your time and make a difference to people in your community.

7. Tell your friends and family about eating real food and encourage them to get involved in their community.  Start by sharing this post with them!

Attend a local Food Day event








BG_FCF_farmtour_logo.finalby Jennifer Roe

Learning more about our food system, you may ask, “How can I help?”  One way is to visit farms and connect with local farmers. You also may consider participating in a farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

A CSA is a food distribution system that connects community members directly with their local farmers through buying shares or regularly supplied produce boxes. This system benefits both the producers by increasing their customer base as well as consumers by having regular access to fresh, healthy food.  Here is a great resource that provides a list of CSA’s in Maryland that can be sorted by county to find the one closest to you.

In order for alternative systems such as local food stores to gain support, it is important to identify the benefits. Supporters believe local markets provide fresh, higher quality foods.  Processed foods that you find at supermarkets tend to be richer in saturated and trans-fatty acids, salt and sugars, which can lead to diet-related diseases.

By replacing some of these purchases with local, fresh produce, you can make a difference in your family’s health. Changing the food you purchase is the first step towards changing your consumption habits. By advocating for local food, supporters are promoting eating seasonal, unprocessed foods that benefit environmental and human health.

Local food systems also help small, local farms that compete with large, corporate agriculture. As a result, rural communities benefit as it builds more resilient rural economies. Additionally, small farmers are more likely to be diversified and less controlled by large institutions; therefore they have more room to adopt alternative, sustainable methods that are more beneficial to the environment.

You can see examples of this for yourself at the 3rd annual Bethesda Green Farm Tour.  Find out where your food comes from, how agricultural production impacts our environment and what you can do to help.

Reserve your spot on the Farm Tour here.

Jennifer Roe is a recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh where she received her Master’s in Environment and Development.  She is passionate about building a just and sustainable food system where every individual has the opportunity to lead a successful, healthy life.

BG_FCF_farmtour_logo.finalby Jennifer Roe

Bethesda Green’s 3rd annual Farm Tour is almost here! This is a great opportunity to learn about the importance of connecting with local farms and building a local, healthy, sustainable food system in our region.

So, what is a food system? It is defined by all the steps necessary to produce and feed a population — from agricultural rearing, growing, and harvesting; to processing, packaging, transporting, distributing, marketing, preparing, consuming and disposing of food.

Over recent decades, food systems have become dominated by large corporations and monocropping. They have become increasingly resource intensive and global as food products travel further distances to meet consumer demand. As a result, the environment feels more pressure in terms of habitat loss/change, climate change, resource depletion, water pollution and toxic emissions.  Our current food production system is extremely inefficient, wasting a high percentage of natural resources and polluting our ecosystems.

According to a recent report authored by Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Dana Gunders, “Waste: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill,” food production from farm to table uses 10% of the total U.S. energy budget, 50% of our land, and 80% of the freshwater we consume.  From these statistics, it is clear that agricultural production has a huge impact on our planet.

So let’s learn about one part of our food system and understand why we need to preserve local farms that are implementing sustainable agricultural practices.  Reserve your spot here.  By the end of the day, we hope you will better understand our current food system and be inspire to support local, sustainable agriculture whenever possible.

Jennifer Roe is a recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh where she received her Master’s in Environment and Development.  She is passionate about building a just and sustainable food system where every individual has the opportunity to lead a successful, healthy life.

dress it up dressing

Red Wine Vinaigrette is one of four varieties offered by Dress It Up Dressing

by Susanna Parker

Sophia Maroon has known for years that her mother’s salad dressing recipes were something special. A hit with everyone who tried them, her brother even said they were good enough to sell. Sophia laughed it off as a joke, but the idea stuck with her. After all, so many commercial dressings were bland, replacing quality olive oil with cheap substitutes, and full of unpronounceable ingredients.

Sophia wanted a healthy dressing with familiar ingredients, produced simply, locally, and in a sustainable manner. She wanted her salad dressing to be as healthy as the veggies it adorns. Sophia realized that her mother’s dressing was the solution to all these problems, and decided to test out her brother’s theory.

With advice from friends and family (plus a good helping of serendipity) Sophia got Dress It Up Dressing up and running. In its ninth month, Sophia’s mission is simple — to make a product she’s proud of, and to ensure that every salad is dressed to perfection.

A recent addition to the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, Sophia and Dress It Up Dressing are committed to sustainability. Dress It Up Dressing is inextricably tied to the environment and to the farmers that grow the produce the dressing tops, so there is a concern for the environment in every decision made. The olive oil that makes up the primary ingredient is sourced from Mediterranean farmers — though it travels farther, its environmental impact is actually less than that of olive oil produced in California.

To reduce Dress It Up’s travel footprint in other areas, the production facility is within 150 miles of the initial market areas of Washington, Philadelphia, and New York City. And though Sophia, like any small business owner, is concerned about the efficiency of the production process, she is “more motivated by the green line than the bottom line.”

Sophia is looking forward to making Dress It Up Dressing even more sustainable. The first goal is to transition the dressing to a fully organic product. The next step will be finding a green manufacturing facility, one that is LEED certified and powered by renewable energy. The final goal requires the cooperation of the local food industry — Sophia wants Dress It Up Dressing to be part of a local food hub, an organization that connects farmers with local and regional markets, helping the community to buy local and increase its sustainability. Maryland does not yet have a food hub, but Sophia looks to GrowFood Carolina for inspiration and motivation.

Dress It Up Dressing is available in four vinaigrettes; Apple Cider, Chocolate, Champagne, and Red Wine. If you’re debating which one to try first, keep in mind Sophia’s advice: “There are only four varieties, who says it has to be a choice?” Dress It Up Dressing is available at Whole Foods, MOMs Organic Market, Roots, Stachowski’s Deli, Bethesda Co-Op, The Organic Butcher in McLean, the Central Farm Markets, and online at When asked what has been her biggest accomplishment to date, Sophia says “Honestly, every day I get to work on this project feels like a success.”

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

Happy Election Day! Be sure to get out and vote

by Susanna Parker

Bethesda Named “Bicycle Friendly Community”

The League of American Bicyclists named Bethesda as one of its 28 new “Bicycle Friendly Communities.” Bicycle Friendly Communities are those that welcome cyclists by providing safe accommodations and encourage residents to bike for recreation, transportation, and fitness. Encouraging bicycling leads to community benefits including reduced traffic demands, improved air quality, increased fitness, and a higher quality of life. Bethesda has been awarded the Bronze designation, signifying that the community has made improvements in each of the “Five Es” of Bicycle Friendly Communities: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation & Planning.

See Montgomery County Council press release for more details.

DC Region Not Prepared for Increased Electric Vehicle Usage

In a report released October 2012, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) analyzed the region’s current and future use of electric vehicles and the challenges of establishing a regional readiness plan for more e-cars on the road in the future. While electric vehicle usage in the DC region currently is relatively low compared with Portland or Los Angeles, consumer interest is growing, and the region’s charging infrastructure and policy frameworks are not prepared for more e-cars on the road.

The report issued by COG contains recommendations to remove barriers to electric vehicle adoption and mitigate negative impact on the electrical grid. COG states that local governments will play a critical role in the DC region’s electric vehicle readiness. Zoning, building codes, permitting, and inspection processes can all ease the way to the installation of charging equipment, while incentives, infrastructure readiness, and low permitting costs will contribute to reducing barriers to greater e-car usage.

Link here to see the full report.

Upcoming Green Events

Share energy saving tips and learn about incentive programs that can help you reduce your gas and energy bills. Talk about what you hope to do in your own home, get information on getting started with home energy efficiency, and learn how to save money and reduce your carbon footprint.


  • Farm to Freezer at Silver Spring Farmers Market, Saturday Nov. 10, 9am-1pm, Downtown Silver Spring, 916 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring MD

Featured at the Bethesda Green National Food Day event, Farm to Freezer’s organic tomato sauce was a delicious hit. Stop by the Silver Spring Farmers Market to say hi, buy some sauce, and watch a cooking demo on making Ratatouille from frozen veggies. Proceeds of the sales go to support Farm to Freezer and its work with Bethesda Cares.

  • Meet N’ Greet With the Nature Conservancy, Tuesday Nov. 13, 6:30-8:30pm, Founding Farmers, 12505 Potomac Park Avenue, Potomac MD

A green social hour hosted by the DC/MD chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Socializing, networking, and a presentation by John Myers, deputy director of The Nature Conservancy’s Carribean Program. Registration required, and the event is $15/person.


Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

Farm to Freezer: Preserving fresh, local food to nourish the hungry

by Cheryl Kollin, Full Plate Ventures

Last Sunday 10 volunteers came together to beat the heat by washing, chopping, and blanching fresh vegetables at St. John’s Church in Bethesda. In just four hours volunteers with Farm to Freezer prepared 50 lbs. of tomato sauce, diced zucchini, and roasted eggplant for the freezer. This food will be incorporated into healthy meals throughout the year for Bethesda Cares’ meals program that feeds the hungry in our community.

“Hooray for us!  It was actually a lot of fun and nice people to chat with too,” exclaimed Susan Wexler who joined the prep crew on Sunday. “Someone asked me if I was a professional; I said, well, I have spent a lot of time in kitchens!”

You don’t have to be an experienced cook to join us. The program seems to resonate with people for many reasons. Some people volunteer because they like to work in the kitchen chopping vegetables while getting to meet others. Some parents like this project to work along with their teens, while they earn student service learning credits. We welcome teens ages 13-15 with an adult, older teens and adults.

Diced, blanched zucchini ready for vacuum sealing, then into the freezer

Others like the idea of supporting Bethesda Cares’ social mission. Founded in 1988, Bethesda Cares was originally established as a lunch program to combat hunger in Montgomery County, providing meals to those living on the streets. Homeless men, women and children suffer from hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity every day. To help ensure the homeless in Montgomery County receive a warm and nutritious meal, Bethesda Cares serves lunch six days a week and dinner on Sundays to between 40-75 people that adds up 20,000 meals each year. Today, Bethesda Cares operates as a day drop-in shelter, serving hot meals daily, offering clothing and toiletries, outreach worker case management, referrals for supportive permanent housing, psychiatric counseling, prescription assistance, and eviction and utility assistance to county residents.

Still other people like to support family farmers and our local food system. Every year about 40 percent of good but uneaten food goes into the landfill—wasted along every part of the supply chain from farm to table. The idea for Farm to Freezer was born last January during a conversation I had with Sue Kirk, the executive director of Bethesda Cares.

One day’s produce donation waiting to be prepped for the freezer

“We are the official gleening organization of the Saturday Bethesda Fresh Farm Market, but we get many more vegetables than we can use in our meals before it goes bad,” explained Sue. A weekly donation just from one farm—Spiral Path organic farm has averaged almost 400 lbs. every week this summer, and we are not even at peak season yet! The organic produce that Spiral Path produces is just beautiful and it is a real crime to let it go to waste. Farmers get a tax deduction for their donation.

The spark of a Farm to Freezer project was born and six months later we are up and running thanks to generous support from community foundations, donated kitchens from partner churches, and in-kind donations from businesses including Whole Foods Bethesda, Zipcar, and Honest Tea. Even Compost Crew helps by donating their services to compost our food scraps.

Volunteers are key to the success of this whole project—we seek 10 volunteers for our weekly prep days. People can sign up via Bethesda Cares’ Meet Up site individually or as a group activity with friends, family or colleagues. With continued community support this project has the potential to grow into a self-sustaining enterprise, earning operating funds by selling tomato sauce and other preserved food at local farmers markets and even teaching food preparation classes. Fresh local food comes full circle—from farm, to freezer, to market, back to compost—benefiting our whole community along the way.

To volunteer, sign up on: Bethesda Cares MEET UP

To read more about this program and who it benefits, visit: Farm to Freezer website

To see our events as they unfold: Follow us on Facebook

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