local farmers


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.

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BGnews_logoCut your own Christmas tree from the several tree farms around the D.C area

As you decorate your homes for Christmas consider visiting your local farm stand to pick up a fresh, Christmas tree. You can take your family to pick up a pre-cut Christmas tree or cut down your own! Not only will you be supporting your local farms, but you’ll be helping the environment, as well. Real Christmas trees are 100 percent environmentally friendly unlike artificial trees, which may contain harmful lead toxins and plastics and last centuries in a landfill after thrown away. Real trees naturally decompose over time and provide wildlife habitats for your little critters.

Check out the Washington Post to find out where the tree farms are!

Take care of your home during the winter season

Make sure to pay attention to your home during the busy holidays. If you tackle these tasks now, you may prevent problems later. Here are some quick and easy household tips:

  • Clean your kitchen vents whether they have an over the range microwave or a hood that is vented to the outdoors. Before the holiday cooking starts, clean or replace the grease filter in a dish washer or in a sink.
  • For better freeze-protection of outdoor faucets, replace standard frost-protected faucets with ones that have a built-in pressure relief valve.
  • Periodically watch the snow to  pinpoint maintenance issues you might otherwise never notice.

To see more details and more tips check out this article!

Events

  • Bethesda Green First Thursday Happy Hour, today, Dec. 5, 5 – 8 pm at Parva in Bethesda.  Hear from Interfaith Power & Light  about what local congregations are doing to save energy and go green. For more details and to RSVP, go to the Bethesda Green Meetup website.

 

           

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.

SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MAKE A CHANGE?

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

Sources:

1. http://www.foodday.org/

2.http://www.nrdc.org/food/files/wasted-food-ip.pdf

3. http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter2.pdf

4. http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-food-deserts

5. http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/go-to-the-atlas.aspx#.UmbVKBA-e4Q

6. http://www.who.int/topics/food_additives/en/

BGnews_logoBy Alison Wentzell

Public Hunting Not a Part of Park Service’s Deer Control Plan

Recently there has been a huge spike in the deer population in Virginia and Maryland civil war parks.  The increase in the number of deer has caused new problems for Park Service officials, and they are unsure what to do about them.  Recent surveys have found that there is an estimated 82 deer per square mile in the parks.  However, the areas can only support about 20 deer per square mile.  In addition, the deer affect the cultural landscapes, which presents the officials with a huge dilemma.  Tourists flock to the parks every year to experience them the way they were 150 years ago, but high deer population is changing the appearance of the park at a rate faster than the officials can fix.

Local hunting advocates are pushing the government to allow deer hunting in these parks.  Organizations have arranged for deer “harvests” across the country, including DC.  Hunters killed 20 deer during the span of 3 days at Rock Creek Park back in March.  They even donated the collected venison to food pantries.  However, the organization of this event caused uproar among the local community including protests and an unsuccessful lawsuit.

In spite of the gun community’s vocalization of their support for hunting in these parks, Park Service officials aren’t budging.  They refuse to allow hunting in the parks.  Not to mention, congressional legislation does not even allow Park Services to consider the option of hunting as a means for deer population control.  And with good reason, these parks are open to the public and are visited by thousands of tourists each season.  In my opinion, it seems that the addition of guns adds a tremendous safety concern for all of these people, no matter how regulated they are.  It will also give officials the added challenge of implementing hunting regulations.

For more information, check out the Washington Post article here.

Biking to Work Promotes Healthy Lifestyle

More and more frequently we hear stories promoting a biking lifestyle.  And for good reason.  When it comes down to it, bikes have many advantages over cars.  But an article in this week’s Gazette puts a different spin on the increasingly popular trend.  This story focuses on two local doctors who work for the NIH Heart Center at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.  Keith Horvath, director of cardiothoracic surgery, and Brad Dick, and interventionalist radiologist, started biking to work five years ago and believe others should do the same.

Horvath takes the phrase “practice what you preach” to heart.  He says that part of his job is promoting a healthy lifestyle, and biking has done that for him.  He claims that the hardest part about exercising is finding the time to do it.  Now he uses his morning commute not only as his exercise for the day, but to relax, plan out his day, and prepare for surgery.

Radiologist Brad Dick also bikes to work, and can’t help but notice the stress people have on their morning commute.  Unlike the people he passes over on the Beltway, Dick never has to deal with traffic because you can always get around it on a bike.  Dick also mentions, “The less gas we use as a society the more healthy we are.”  So, while Dick and Horvath ride their bikes to work every day, they’re not only benefiting from it themselves, but they are also making you healthier by reducing gas usage and traffic congestion.

For the full article, check out the Gazette.

Events

  • Bethesda Green Happy Hour, Sept. 5, 5-8 pm, The Courtyard by Marriott Chevy Chase, 5220 Wisconsin Avenue

Join Bethesda Green for its First Thursday Happy Hour at The Courtyard and have a chance to win a raffle, get discounts on wine, beer, and cocktails, and delicious appetizers.  Also, meet the people protecting the local watershed—Friends of Cabin John Creek, Little Falls Watershed Alliance and Rock Creek Conservancy.  There is a $10 entrance fee with the proceeds shared among the local watershed groups.  RSVP via Meetup.

  • Red Wiggler Annual Harvest Celebration, Sept. 7, 4-8:30 pm, Red Wiggler Community Farm, 23400 Ridge Road, Germantown, MD

Come out and honor the work of the season and savor the delicious flavors of the fields.  Dishes are prepared by local chefs and consist of ingredients that have been grown right on the farm.  There will be live music and a Silent Auction full of items and services for your home, garden, and family.  Tickets cost $75 for adults and $40 for children.  All proceeds help programs at the Red Wiggler Farm.  To find out more information, check out the Bethesda Green Calendar.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.

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.

by Alison Wentzellbggreennews_logo11

New Program Helps Montgomery County Establish More Farms

These days becoming a successful new farmer is hard, but as the demand for local food increases so has the need for local farms.  Recognizing this new market, Montgomery County’s Green Economy Task Force proposed the implementation of the New Farmer Pilot Project.  The project will support new farmers as they establish themselves in the county.

The project provides new farmers with the education and resources that they will need to become a well-established farm.  The program offers a variety of classes ranging from business planning to soil management, which are open to all those who wish to attend.  Once applicants are chosen, the system operates like a dating service.  Farmers and landowners are matched up with potential landowners and mentors, and then they can decide if they want to meet.  The New Farmer Pilot Project helps new and old farmers to build the necessary relationships they need to succeed.  Click here to see the Washington Post article with more information.

New Wetland in Waldorf Provides Habitat for Ducks

The students and faculty at Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School in Waldorf came together last Wednesday to build an 8.5 acre wetland behind the school.  The project was lead by Brown Elementary teacher Jack Belle, who had always been inspired to use the area behind the school to create a pond that could be used to teach kids about ecosystems and the environment.  With the help of his students and over $3 million dollars from the local and federal government, he was able to make his dream a reality.  Students planted thousands of plants and created a habitat for a variety of living organisms, including a flock of ducks that now have an appropriate nesting ground.  Generations of students will be able to use these wetlands to not only learn about earth systems and the role they play in our lives, but to build a stronger relationship with nature that will hopefully inspire them to act in a more environmentally conscious way throughout their lives.

For the full article in the Washington Post click here.  

Solar Panels To Be Installed on Dozens of Buildings

In 2009 the town of Chevy Chase approached the county seeking permission to put solar panels on the Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center roof.  Since then the project has escalated and Montgomery County is set to put solar panels on dozens of roofs, including the Chevy Chase recreational center.  The county plans on leasing the rooftop space on public buildings to private companies, so that it is free of cost for the county.  Whatever energy isn’t utilized by the building can then be sold back to the power grid by these companies.  Town officials are excited for the project to get underway because it demonstrates the town’s commitment to renewable energy and being green.

For the full scoop in Gazette.Net click here.

Upcoming Events

  •  Maryland Green Legislative Update, July 11, 7 PM to 9 PM, Bethesda Green 4825 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD

Join Doo Consulting as they invite Stuart Kaplow to speak about new laws pertaining to green building and sustainable business opportunities.  He offers a fast paced and fun review of each of the new green laws enacted by Maryland.  Both businesses and consumers are welcome to join and learn about the opportunities created by the government to feed Maryland’s environmental industrial complex. RSVP via Eventbrite.

  • Calleva Dirty Dinners 2013: A Farm to Table Series, July 13, 6 PM to 9 PM, Calleva Farm 19120 Martinsburg Road, Dickerson, MD

Come out to Calleva Farm and enjoy a gourmet meal made entirely from ingredients grown and prepared at the farm.  Meals include local wine, non-alcoholic “mocktails,” and live music in a beautiful outdoor farm setting.  Reserve your table today!

  • Green Roof Training, July 18-20, Casey Trees, 3030 12th St. NE, Washington, DC

Join Green Roofs for Healthy Cities for their Green Roof Boot Camp and become a certified green roof professional.  Classes will cover design and installation, waterproofing and drainage, and plants and growing media.  Click here for more information or register now.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.

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