It's local food to schools, Charlie Brown

11/16/2012 10:43:00 AM
Tom Karst

I also question funding of projects to invest in kitchen equipment to serve local products year-round through processing and freezing techniques.

Really? For the sake of argument, do New Jersey kids really want frozen “local” zucchini in mid-winter rather than fresh baby carrots from California?

“I got rocks,” Charlie Brown will say as he goes through the lunch line.

I do think there are some solid ideas in the farm-to-school grants, particularly relating to funds supporting nutrition education efforts, school gardens, field trips to local farms and cooking classes.

Other smart investments were used for grants to programs that use food hubs, or partner with mainline distributors.

The USDA, like Linus, is trying too hard to convince us about the value of the farm to school program.

“There are three things you must never discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin,” Linus concluded in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Though we shouldn’t add the “farm to school program” to that list just yet, the blind faith of the USDA leadership in farm-to-school program is troubling.

Do kids really care about farm to school produce? Are kids in Iowa going to be more thrilled with a California grape cluster or a turnip from the next county? Let the market lead, not ideology.

If there are great opportunities in fresh produce growers finding opportunities to service school districts with local food, a government-funded farm to school program won’t be the key to success.

Profit potential is all the sincerity fresh produce growers and distributors need.


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Linda Wallace    
Santa Clara County, CA  |  November, 16, 2012 at 05:30 PM

I see several advantages to local communities of farm- to-school programs. From a local community economic point of view, keeping produce purchases at the local level results in a multiplier effect: dollars paid to local produce growers are recycled through a community several times (researchers say 4 times) before leaving the community rather than being immediately transfered from the school to large growers located across the country. Local production for local consumption also appears to support the environment by reducing the packaging, fuel, and refrigeration required to food ship food and reducing fossil fuel–induced global warming. Furthermore, locally produced food is typically raised with fewer chemicals.

Barry Thoele    
Staples, MN  |  November, 17, 2012 at 08:52 AM

As a local producer here in MN I look to the future and am planning not one but several employees to help operate my hydroponics growing facility. Insinuating this is a fairy tail and can't happen or won't happens does not do you justice. Yes it means someone in the southwest will not be have that revenue but someone here will. Since I began this project first with supplying the local hospitals and this year with the farm to school I have listened and read repeatedly why it can't be done. And yet I and many other farmers are doing it. No we are not mega corporations that farm 10's of thousands of acres and have migrant labor pick for hours in the hot sun of the southwest. We are small farmers that produce healthy produce and Jobs for people in our own towns. Jobs that are year round in a work environment that does not border on a day in hell. Jobs that help the local economy and provide training to people that can be taken and used to start their own businesses. There is a lot ot be said for planning a slow transition to local produce especially in the scope of biosecurity and the ongoing problems of drought and fuel costs. There is also an opportunity to show that proper design of growing facilties can enable growing even in the extreme north. This is a good thing for our children. This is a good thing for our national economy. This is a good thing for local business. This is an opportunity to replace jobs that have been sent to other countries because the corperate farms can pay pennies for work that accounts to little more than slave labor. Modern technology and some not so modern can build structures to grow most salad produce where we eat it. It is time to make use of it.

Barry Thoele    
Staples, MN  |  November, 17, 2012 at 08:54 AM

If you won't post what I write why ask for comments?

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