Local Foods Connection Blog

Local foods, hunger relief, sustainable agriculture

A Donor Plug for Local Foods Connection January 31, 2007

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Few would argue that people should not eat food that is healthy for our bodies and the environment. Unfortunately, low-cost food is usually higher in fat and chemicals, mass-produced and shipped long distances. Despite organic food becoming more widespread, it is definitely not yet affordable for many households. As well, the very growth of organic food market is increasing corporate interest and adding pressure to local farmers. We think it is fantastic that Local Foods Connection offers a way for families to not only receive healthy organic food, but also educational opportunites and connections and support of area farmers. It’s been great to watch the organization expand to include more households each year and more opportunities such as  the Thanksgiving turkey distribution. As a family, we are pleased to support Local Foods Connection. Kudos to Laura for spearheading such a valuable contribution to our community.  — Ken, Andrea, Trevor & Aaron Clinkenbeard


Finding Food In Farm Country January 23, 2007

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Agricultural economist and community development expert Ken Meter will be touring Eastern Iowa February 6th – 9th to present his “Finding Food in Farm Country” analysis for the Eastern Iowa Region.

Find out:

-Why Iowa farmers have lost over $3.4 billion dollars in the past decade even while producing record yields;

-Why most of our region’s food dollars are spent elsewhere even though much of our food can be produced locally;

-How healthy local and regional food systems build healthy economies;

-What we can do right now to build a better future:

*Local Food *Agri-tourism * Bio-energy

Ken Meter has 36 years of experience in community capacity building as a researcher, journalist, educator and administrator. He taught microeconomics at Harvard University and agricultural economics at the University of Minnesota. Ken was invited to present his pioneering “Finding Food in Farm Country” study to the Senate Agricultural Committee. This work has sparked local development in rural and urban Iowa and across the U.S.

Schedule of Events:

–February 6th–

**Grinnell: 4:15 p.m.

The Forum, South Lounge, Grinnell College Campus 1119 6th Avenue

**Cedar Rapids: 7:30 p.m.

Iowa Hall, Kirkwood Community College Campus

6301 Kirkwood Blvd S.W.

–February 7–

Iowa City: 3:00 p.m.

Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn Street, Room A

Dinner with Ken: 6:30 p.m.

One Twenty Six Restaurant, 126 S. Washington St.

Participants pay own expense. RSVP by January 31 to: info@onetwentysix.net, Party Name: Dinner with Ken Meter

–February 8–

**Fairfield: 1:30 p.m.

Fairfield Public Library, 104 W Adams Ave

**Mt. Pleasant: 6:00 p.m.

Mt. Pleasant Public Library, 307 E Monroe St.

–February 9–

Maquoketa: 10:00 a.m.

Hurstville Interpretative Center, 18670 63rd St.

Brought to you by the Iowa Valley Resource Conservation & Development Office in collaboration with local organizations and with the support of the Northwest Area Foundation. FREE AND OPEN TO ALL. Questions? Contact Chris Taliga at (319) 668-6110; or christine.taliga@ia.usda.gov


Global Warming Presentation January 17, 2007

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The University of Iowa Student Environmental Coalition invited Local Foods Connection to have a represenative on a panel discussion about global warming. Mark Quee, farm manager at Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, sat on the panel to discuss the relationship between agriculture and global warming. LFC purchases CSA shares from his farm. The panel discussion was held in December 2006 in Iowa City. The following is the text of his talk:

My name is Mark and I’m here to talk about how local food production can impact global warming, and, interestingly, the converse: how global warming is going to impact local food production.

I am the farm manager at Scattergood Friends School, which is a small Quaker boarding school about 15 miles east of Iowa City near West Branch. Our production includes approximately 3 acres in certified organic vegetable crops and about 5 acres in organic apples, pears, peaches, plums and cherries. We also have recently converted over 25 acres from conventional corn/soybean production to pastures which are in transition to organic certification and from which we raise grass finished beef and lamb, as well as free range our laying hens and turkeys. We grow a lot of food and consider our primary market the students and staff at the school: about 80 mouths to feed three times per day, August through May. But we also sponsor a small CSA program, serving families in West Branch and Iowa City and we market directly with New Pioneer Co‑op both in Iowa City and Coralville.

There are many ways how what you eat contributes to global warming with food miles being the most obvious. I was tempted to spend a lot of time talking about this and began the requisite on‑line searches, and of course found lots of interesting information; some of the highest quality research is coming out of Iowa’s own Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture located at Iowa State University. Rich Pirog and others have done several interesting studies into food miles and especially how it relates to Iowa. A brief summary of their findings in 2004 indicate that conventional distribution systems of raw fruits and vegetables require travel on average of about 1500 miles from farm to family. So the broccoli or potato and all the other fruits and vegetables that you’ve eaten today are well‑traveled. The researchers compared this conventional distribution system with a regional (Iowa‑based) producing/marketing/consuming system as well as direct farmer to consumer (CSAs and Farmer’s Markets) systems and found that the most efficient (in terms of petroleum consumption and CO2 emissions) was…drum role…not the CSAs and Farmer’s Markets, but the Regional distribution system, as a result of economies of scale allowing for more efficient transportation over moderate distances, followed by the small systems (which cover shorter distances, but with much less quantity) and finally the conventional systems. So, that’s pretty interesting, but not too surprising, and I encourage all of you to look into this more.

The important thing to consider is that what you buy does make a difference. Choosing Iowa‑raised, or buying direct from local farmers can impact global warming, albeit perhaps in a very small way. More importantly though is the beauty and empowerment that comes from being so closely connected to your food. When I hear friends or family talking about shopping at Wal‑Mart, or whenever I pass a Super Center, I feel sad because I think (perhaps too piously) that all of those people have given up. They’ve surrendered their potential to create positive social and environmental change and instead perhaps have allocated their energy and desire to whatever bowl game is being hyped or more likely, to discreet individualized survival. But the connection to the thing—food—that most literally makes us who we are and, more importantly, who we are to become, has been severed. So, an ugly cycle exists: people buy displaced produce, at disconnected SuperCenters, preventing meaningful consumption and connection, increasing isolation, resulting in more of the same.

So, the solution is not new or unique and can probably be super‑imposed on panel discussions on a wide variety of topics ranging from poverty and homelessness, AIDS awareness and prevention, education reform, accessible healthcare and on and on: we need to build connectivity and community in order to strengthen our individual weaknesses and create positive change. Simply by supporting local producers, eating seasonal food produced by soils you can see and feel, immediately creates a physical connection (at the cellular level) and begins the process of emotional and social connectivity and ultimately…Community. And that is what will produce change.

I hate to end on a dire or pessimistic note, but a down and dirty reason why you should immediately resolve to support local food producers is Food Security. You may really really need us in the not so distant future. Current distribution systems could be easily disrupted—fuel shortages, climate change, political instability, can make oranges a distant memory. Local food may be the only food and you will need access to knowledgeable people who have been working with nature’s changes over time. As an organic farmer I am constantly humbled by how much more I need to learn. Each season I eliminate some ignorance, but always discover more. And the learning curve is not always steep, but it is long. I get results in September about choices in sweet pepper cultivation made in April; tweaks in animal breeding can have impacts for years. I, and all other local producers, need the community to see that buying from us is not only the way to have a wonderful funky-looking tomato or the freshest head of lettuce, but it is a deposit in a very real knowledge and experience bank.

–Mark Quee, Farm Manager at Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, Iowa.


New Pioneer Co-op Thank You January 10, 2007

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We at Local Foods Connection would like to start this brand new year by giving a heart-felt thank you to the thousand plus members of the New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City & Coralville who participated in the “Donate Your Dividend Check” program in 2006.

Local Foods Connection is a group of Iowa City community activists who donate fresh food to low-income families in Southeast Iowa. We purchase produce, bread, eggs, meat, and other products from local earth-friendly farms and donate these goods to families who cannot afford such healthy, tasty and fresh food.

Donation Box

2006 was a great year for us, as approximately 1,120 members of the New Pioneer Co-op donated to us cash, personal checks, and dividend checks, totaling over $14,600! In 2005, the New Pioneer Co-op Board of Directors conceived of the dividend check donation program, and 2006 was its second year running. Your donations accounted for nearly 60% of LFC’s 2006 income! Last year was so successful, the Co-op Board has decided to continue the program into 2007! Awesome community spirit everyone!

In addition to demonstrating widespread community support for LFC, your donations help the organization maintain its 501(c) 3 status. The IRS interprets a lot of small contributions, coming from a cross-section of people, as a sign that a nonprofit is playing a vital role in its community. In addition, your donations help with the Feinstein Foundation fundraising challenge. Every year, it divides $1 million among hunger fighting agencies nationwide. The more money a community donates to a nonprofit agency in the spring, the larger the Foundation’s donation to it will be.

Last year, your donations directly provided compensation for a 10 hour a week volunteer administrative assistant; a new computer, warranty and virus protection; walkie-talkies for farm work volunteers and a refridgerator to keep food fresh before transport.


Sass Family Farm Fall Harvest Party January 5, 2007

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Here are some images from Sass Family Farm, Riverside, Iowa, during their wonderful Fall Harvest party.

Goats Butting Heads

Here are two goats butting heads over a pumpkin they were eating. The goats are playing happily with each other, and honing their fighting skills.

Pumpkin Haybale

During a hayrack ride at the farm, you are taken through a cornfield decorated in a Halloween theme. The Sass Family is very creative!

Sass Family Pony

Here is a pony that the Sass Family rescued with the help of PETA. He was originally given to family who could not take care of him. This beautiful pony has a happy home now, on the Sass Farm.

If you are interested in visiting the Sass Family Farm, visit their website for information! http://www.sassfamilyfarm.com

Take Care, Laura


Welcome to Local Foods Connection Blog January 3, 2007

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Local Foods Connection is a non-profit organization operating in Iowa City, Iowa. We purchase produce, meat and other products from small family farmers and donate these goods to low-income families in southeast Iowa. You can learn more about us at:


We wish everyone a happy new year! Local Foods Connection (LFC) recently finished a terrific giftwrapping fundraiser at Prairie Table in Iowa City. Many a volunteer staffed the table, and wrapped presents for a wide array of holiday shoppers. The project generated over $550 and gave us great exposure to a new audience. Thanks Ron Gleitman, owner of Prairie Table (PT); the staff at PT for helping out when needed; and the dozens of LFC volunteers who gave up some of their holiday free-time to help!

-submitted by Laura, Founder & Executive Director