Mushroom Sauce for Steak
Michael Ruhlman's Twenty

World Food Day: Helping Local Farmers

Next Sunday, Oct. 16, is Oxfam America's World Food Day, a moment to "think about where your food comes from, who cultivates it, and how we can make the food system more just and sustainable.”  That sounds like every day around our house, and if you’re interested in contemplating these things, Oxfam America suggests having a dinner that night, and dedicating it to farmers. They're providing a number of items to foster conversations, including a discussion guide with these very important questions:

  •  Where does your food come from?

What is your favorite recipe? Why? What memories are associated with it? Where do you get the ingredients? Where do they come from and who grows them? Are there times of the year you can’t make your favorite dish because some of the ingredients aren’t available?

  • Who is the face behind your food? 

When you picture a farmer, who do you see? Do you know any farmers? How often do you buy food from a farmer directly? How many farms are in your town? County? State? Do you grow anything? If you could, what would it be? 

  • How have rising food prices affected you? 

Do rising food prices influence your choices at the grocery store or what you choose to eat? What are the staples you always have in your fridge? What is always on your grocery list? Where do you shop to get the basics (grocery stores, farm stands, corner stores, etc.) Do you grow or catch any of your food? Do you buy organic or local? Have you seen the prices of organic or local foods rise at all in the past year?

  • How is the global food system connected?

Have you visited another country? What are the popular foods there? Can you get those foods back home? How much of the food in your fridge is from the US? How much from other countries? If you could only buy food within a 100-mile radius, within a 1000-mile radius, or from the US, would it change your diet and life choices?

You can order free supplies for your Sunday World Food Dinner, including informative placemats and cards with recipes from the likes of Giada De Laurentiis, Mark Bittman, and Eric Yost, through Oxfam America by visiting their website.

I was thinking about their second point—Who is the Face Behind Your Food?—recently. I shop at the Greenmarket in Grand Army Plaza almost every week, and my friend Sally Sturman, an artist who slings fillets for Blue Moon Fish (the freshest supplier of seafood in the city), was telling about efforts to support local farmers who were devastated by Hurricane Irene, late this summer. The storm may have spared the city, but it dumped tons of rain on upstate fields, just before harvest time.

They’re organizing a benefit show at Southpaw on Nov. 6, with live music and food. All the proceeds will benefit two farmers, Ray Bradley and Kira Kinney. Details about the benefit are still being worked out, but in the meantime, there are ways to learn more about Bradley and Kinney. Pete Wells wrote a great piece in the New York Times about a very clever way Bradley is trying to make ends meet (it involves chicken scat bingo) and Kinney has since set up an innovative gift registry, where if you want to help her, you can buy her the seeds, feed, and other things she needs to keep her farm running.

When I get more details about the Nov. 6 benefit, I’ll post them. And if you are planning to organize a dinner for World Hunger Day, I’d love to hear about your plans. 

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