Local Foods Connection Blog

Local foods, hunger relief, sustainable agriculture

Iowa Place-Based Foods December 24, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 7:19 pm

As you may know, Local Foods Connection has a dual mission: to put high-quality, fresh food into the hands of people who cannot afford it and to champion small family farmers who use environmentally-friendly farming methods. LFC is committed to the eaters and farmers of Iowa and to the land itself.

In light of our interest in the people and foods that make Iowa great, we were intrigued by the Iowa Arts Council’s Iowa Place-Based Foods project and we thought you might be, too.

Central to the Iowa Place-Based Foods project is an emphasis on foods that have a story: the local foods we talk about, tell tales about, and love. The project is the result of a two year Iowa survey of Iowans about uniquely Iowan foods, funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Read about the results and check to see if your favorite Iowa foods made the cut on the Iowa Place-Based Foods project web site. You can also download the 35 page full report, “Taste of Place: Place-based Foods in Iowa,” on their site.


Monika Ratner on LFC’s Turkey Distribution December 18, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 9:29 am

On November 24, 2007, Local Foods Connection distributed fresh, local turkeys to clients at the Mayor’s Youth Empowerment Program in Iowa City. The turkey distribution marked the end of the 2007 LFC season, and gave clients and volunteers the chance to meet each other and talk face-to-face. Local Foods Connection only distributes the highest quality food from local farms, and these turkeys truly held up this standard. The Thanksgiving turkeys came from Henry J.C. and Ila Miller’s farm in Kalona, which is less than 20 miles outside Iowa City, and were fed purely on organic grain and some pasture. Clients noticed the difference in taste of LFC’s delicious hormone and antibiotic free turkeys as compared to the mass-produced variety.


Monika at LFC turkey distribution

[Monika Ratner puts things in order during LFC’s turkey distribution.]

Keeping tabs at turkey distribution

[An LFC farmer keeps track of her pumpkin angel food cakes at the LFC turkey distribution.]

In advance, clients were given the option to receive, instead of turkey, their choice of cuts of organic, hormone and antibiotic free lamb, which was raised on ZJ Farms by Susan Jutz and her family in Solon, only about 12 miles north of Iowa City.

Clients could choose from turkeys ranging from 9 to 29 pounds depending on the size of their Thanksgiving parties, and LFC volunteers guided them through this decision-making process with turkey cooking info pamphlets as well as large baking tins. Some clients, who chose one of the heavier birds, cooked them up and distributed some of their own turkey to friends not part of the LFC program.

Miller and sons

[Henry J.C. Miller leans over to direct the distribution of his turkeys.]

Hard at work at Turkey Distribution

[Dedicated LFC farmers and volunteers help to make the LFC turkey distribution a success!]

The turkey distribution also gave clients the chance to use their points earned through LFC nutritional quizzes and activities, such as visiting a farm. Some clients had saved up enough points to take home whole boxes full of high-quality cookware and cookbooks, which are donated throughout the year by local and national companies.

Great stuff to be had

[LFC clients took advantage of the excellent cookbooks and cooking gear available at the turkey distribution.]

We want to thank the Mayor’s Youth Empowerment Program for generously allowing LFC to use their space, which played an integral part in making the 2007 turkey distribution such a success.

Read more about Miller Farm’s heritage turkeys in Wendy Wasserman’s article “What’s In Season” from the Fall 2006 issue of Edible Iowa River Valley (in pdf format):

“What’s In Season” from Edible Iowa River Valley


2007 Farm Work Days December 16, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — localfoodsconnection @ 3:15 pm

Throughout the summer and fall, volunteers for Local Foods Connection helped out at area farms such as ZJ farm (www.zjfarms.com) in Solon and Sass Family Farms (www.sassfamilyfarm.com) in Riverside.  The purpose of bringing volunteers to these farms was to earn credits toward CSA shares for families supported by LFC, as well as to educate the volunteers about the importance of local, earth-friendly farming.  Approximately 125 University of Iowa students from classes such as Introduction to Environmental Science and organizations such as the Alpha Kappa Psi service fraternity, as well as various other community volunteers contributed their time on weekends.  Notably, Alpha Kappa Psi brought about fifty members to spring and fall farm days this year, earning LFC two full CSA shares! 

Some of the farming activities included vegetable harvesting, pulling up trellises and putting away landscaping cloth.  In addition to donating their time, volunteers learned about the environmental benefits of such practices.

zj5.jpgVolunteer coordinator Megan Hanlon carries fence post back to the farm for winter storage at ZJ farm in September. 


ZJ Farm, September 20072 student volunteers harvest organic carrots on Susan Jutz’s ZJ Farm. While not a certified organic farm, Susan and her sons use no chemicals on their crops, as well as utilizing other earth-friendly practices.


zj2.jpg Volunteers roll up landscaping cloth for the winter.  This cloth is used in place of a plastic alternative that is commonly used in industrial farming.  While generally more expensive, this cloth smothers weeds, allowing water to seep through to the soil below and doesn’t degrade as quickly as plastic.


zj3.jpgSeveral volunteers pull up trellises on ZJ farm.


zj4.jpgOne LFC volunteer takes a break to pose with a lamb on ZJ Farm.


sass1.jpgPumpkins and gourds are loaded onto a flat bed for transport.


sass2.jpgStudent volunteers riding behind a tractor to begin their work in the field.


sass3.jpgVolunteers work in the corn field at Sass Farms.  A large variety of chemical- free vegetables are harvested for sale and CSA shares each year.


Volunteer and Sponsor of the Week December 11, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 11:22 am

Volunteer of the Week: Sarah Mugge. Sarah works in LFC’s office and on farms. Sarah volunteered on ZJ Farm in Solon, helped organize a farm work day, and is preparing a blog entry on LFC’s “farm work – vegetable exchange” program.

Sponsor of the Week: Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City. The Lichty Fund Committee and the Vestry of Trinity Church donated $150.00 to LFC this year.

Thank you!


Dowd Speaks on the Human Right to Food December 10, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 10:02 pm

On October 30, Local Foods Connection Founder and Executive Director Laura Dowd was invited to deliver the keynote address at the University of Iowa’s 11th annual International Day Human Rights Conference “The Human Right to Food.”

Human Right to Food

The University of Iowa gathered more than 300 students from middle and high schools throughout Iowa at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center with the expressed intent to get young Iowans thinking about food security and poverty. As Buffy Quintero, International Programs outreach coordinator, expressed, “We want to encourage students to think about how decisions made at the local level have global impacts.” As event organizers explain, International Day is meant to help these students become better global citizens and to develop a greater understanding of – and respect for – democracy, equality, cultural differences and human rights.

Laura at Human Right to Food

Laura delivered her keynote, entitled “The Human Right to Food,” to an audience of eager and excited Iowa students. Focusing on the the work of Local Foods Connection, Laura connected both hunger and poverty throughout the world with hunger and poverty here in Iowa and the UN Declaration of Human Rights with Local Foods Connection’s fight for food security in Iowa. As Laura explained to the audience, “Food security exists when all people have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.” And access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food is what LFC is all about.

Laura encouraged her audience to consider their skills, values, and interests in order to figure out how they, too, can help intervene on behalf of the human right to food. Building on the experiences and talents of LFC volunteers, Laura called upon her audience to “Listen; Keep an open mind; Do not judge on first impressions; Learn by doing research, reading, and interviewing; and Ask how you can help.” As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explains, “Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.” In other words, working on behalf of the human right to food is good for your community and good for yourself. It is our duty to consider the health and safety of our fellow humankind, globally and locally.

Among the highlights of her talk were an emphasis on Local Foods Connection’s values:

No one should go hungry in America.
Everyone should have access to good food.
Healthy food comes from healthy farms.
Everyone can help in the fight against hunger.

At the end of her talk, Laura reminded the students of Mahatma Gandhi’s rallying cry, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Audience at Human Right to Food

Hailey Dixon, a participating high school student and Local Foods Connection volunteer, described the event:

International Day is an annual event that teaches kids about a world issue; this year the subject was “The Human Right to Food.” Every student chose two “classes” to take and there were two group sessions with everybody.

My first class was about how large, powerful countries like the United States, Canada, etc. make it hard for developing countries to have food security. Our teacher told us that many developing countries buy unhealthy pesticides and manure from the developed countries and then everyone who eats that food in the developing country gets sick.

My second class was about the Peace Corps. I think the Peace Corps volunteers amaze me with all they do. I learned that there are many fields of the Peace Corps like agriculture, technology, health, environment, etc. The main focus was on the agricultural part of the Peace Corps. When a Peace Corps volunteer goes to the country they are assigned to they try to make more efficient, healthier way of farming for the people so they can be better nourished and healthier overall.

I think International Day is a great event and you really do learn alot.


King Corn at the Bijou December 4, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 4:50 pm

Don’t miss your chance to catch the new documentary “King Corn” at the Bijou this week; the film will run there through December 6th.

According to the movie’s website, “‘King Corn’ is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast food nation.” The film has received rave reviews in the New York Times and Salon, among other news outlets.  The Boston Globe went so far as to argue that “‘King Corn’ ought to be required viewing by anyone planning to visit a supermarket, fast food joint or their own refrigerator.  Funny, wise and sad, it suggests that being well-fed has nothing to do with begin well-nourished.”  I heard its creators, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, on NPR last weekend and the movie promises to deliver on the two-guys-meet-agribusiness-and-hilarity-and-profundity-ensue formula!

Check the The Bijou Theater for schedule.