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Wednesdays from Washington: Talking science with Dr. Mike Stebbins

May 27, 2020

This blog post was written by Arizona State University graduate student Alaine Janosy. In addition to studying Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership at ASU, Alaine works as an independent sustainability consultant specializing in agricultural production systems and procurement. Through this work Alaine engages with companies to create, enable and expand strategies that drive adoption of regenerative farming practices.

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Think you know lettuce, think again: Revelations from a visit to the winter salad bowl

May 1, 2020

As we enter our first stretch of 100 degree days, we here at the Swette Center are reminiscing back to the cool, crisp mornings of the winter.  On one of those mornings the ASU grad leadership cohort had the pleasure of visiting several farms in the Yuma area.  While many of these operations have packed up for their yearly transition to the summer season in Salinas, CA we can’t help but notice the stark contrast between our present COVID-19 reality and the relative calm of December. 

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Engrained: A Model for Sustainable Dining at ASU

April 28, 2020

As we begin the final week of the spring semester it is interesting to reflect on the stark contrast between this year and the final week of classes from years past.  This year the campus is unusually quiet; the library carrels are empty, the lawns are vacant, and few footsteps are heard in the halls.  While no-one can predict what the fall will bring, we are hoping that it brings back students and the bustle of student activity that charges our vibrant campus. 

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Got Milk? A Visit to Arizona’s Kerr Family Dairy

April 22, 2020

As we post this blog, we are witnessing devastation in the dairy industry brought about by the COVID19 pandemic. Wes Kerr and his family are struggling to survive, as are dairy farmers across the country. It is heartbreaking.  The United Dairymen of Arizona sent a letter to USDA stating that this is the biggest market crash the industry has seen in 60 years and, without timely and significant support, many dairies will not survive. More on what’s going on with the Kerr Family Farm and dairies in Arizona can be found in this 4/17/20 article in West Valley View.

-Note from Swette Center Director Kathleen Merrigan

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Deliciously sustainable: A visit to Tucson's Senae Thai Bistro

April 9, 2020

Thai style fish entree

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues spread across the globe and around the U.S., the restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard. Stay-at-home orders have decimated these establishments, forcing many talented small-business owners to move to reduced hours, lay off staff members, or close outright. Fortunately, for the time being some businesses, such as Senae featured below, have been able to continue offering food for take-out and delivery. If you live in the Tucson area, consider ordering from Senae today! Or, wherever you are, remember to keep supporting local businesses and restaurants. 

This blog post was written by Arizona State University graduate student Alaine Janosy. In addition to studying Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership at ASU, Alaine works as an independent sustainability consultant specializing in agricultural production systems and procurement. Through this work Alaine engages with companies to create, enable and expand strategies that drive adoption of regenerative farming practices.

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Feeding the hungry: A day with the United Food Bank

March 31, 2020

Students packaging food. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe and the U.S., more and more Americans are facing food insecurity. Now more than ever, organizations like United Food Bank  and other Feeding America members are critical to ensuring that no one goes to bed hungry — but they can't do it alone. Please consider donating your time, talent, or treasure here, and together we can weather this crisis! 

This blog post was written by Arizona State University graduate student Liz Broussard. In addition to studying Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership at ASU, Liz serves as a project coordinator at the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), where she supports the Mississippi Food Justice Collaborative, a network of organizations working to improve access to healthy food and transform Mississippi food systems.   

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Letter to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

March 6, 2020

By Kathleen Merrigan, executive director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University, and professor with appointments in the School of Sustainability, College of Health Solutions, and School of Public Affairs

Today a letter was sent to government leaders charged with developing the next iteration of the DGAs – Dietary Guidelines for Americans, an activity undertaken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services every five years. I am a signatory on this letter and believe that it is past time for sustainability criteria to be integrated into dietary guidance. I will let the letter speak for itself.

Read the organizational letter submitted to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on March 4, 2020 here.

Organic in the valley: A visit to Litchfield's Blue Sky Organic Farm

March 3, 2020

This blog post was written by Arizona State University graduate student Brandee Kitzmiller. In addition to studying Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership at ASU, Brandee works hard empowering children to make healthy eating choices as the garden educator for the nonprofit Island Grown Schools on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  

Situated about 30 minutes from downtown Phoenix, Arizona sits the 35-acre Blue Sky Organic Farm. As the ASU Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership cohort approaches the main farm house, we are welcomed by a handful of happy goats. We continue through a cluster of citrus trees and meet Sara Dolan.

Sara Dolan and David Vose have been farming since 1995 and their farm is 100% certified organic, meaning they meet strict regulations for the growing of all produce on their farm. Upon our arrival to the farm we were told repeatedly to walk only on the paths. If we had stepped into a field the whole area would not be allowed to be sold. Food safety is serious business.

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New experiences with old grains: A transformative trip to Arizona’s Hayden Flour Mills

February 25, 2020

This blog post was written by Arizona State University graduate student Ali Kelley. In addition to studying Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership at ASU, Ali is working hard to foster a regional grain economy by starting a grain business of her own in her home state of Colorado. 

Arizona is not known for bagels, but one of the best I’ve had can be found on the plains bordering Phoenix. With a tender dough and glistening, golden crust, this bagel rivaled any I’ve experienced in New York, or elsewhere. Was fresh water from the nearby Salt River responsible for this culinary gem? Hardly. The bagel’s unparalleled taste and texture resulted from the quality and freshness of the wheat flour, grown and milled on site. Whereas commercial All Purpose flour comes from modern wheat varieties (bred for yield and resistance) and is processed months or even years before it reaches the end user, this flour came from heritage varieties (known for flavor and nutrition) and was milled within a week of being consumed.

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Growing community: How a student garden program rejuvenated a Tucson school

February 19, 2020

This blog post was written by Arizona State University graduate student Kelly McClelland. In addition to studying Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership at ASU, Kelly is a food leader in Flint, Michigan where she works as a nutrition program manager at the Crim Fitness Foundation, oversees Flint FoodCorps members, and serves on the board of Edible Flint.  

At the end of a long day of garden tours, the ASU Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership cohort gathered in the courtyard of Manzo Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona to learn about the school garden program at Tucson Unified School District.

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Cotton in the city: Raising an Arizona staple in the Phoenix metro area

February 13, 2020

This blog post was written by Arizona State University graduate student Katie Davis. In addition to studying Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership at ASU, Katie is tackling the issue of postharvest food waste as the senior manager of regulatory affairs for Apeel Sciences in Santa Barbara, CA. 

Just a short drive outside Phoenix, in Mesa, Arizona, is the Hatley family farm. Now known as Associated Farms, Adam Hatley and his family have been farming this land since 1976, when Adam’s father first started cultivating the land here. They grow approximately 1,200 acres of cotton on land leased from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. While cotton is not the number one crop in Arizona and production has been declining in recent years, it is still incredibly important to the state’s economy.

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Sustaining home on the range: Adapting to the 21st century at C Bar Ranch in Wilcox, AZ

February 4, 2020

This blog post was written by ASU graduate student Sarah Lemon. In addition to studying Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership at ASU, Sarah is a beginning rancher, who just finished a 9-month apprenticeship in sustainable livestock production at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in the Hudson Valley of NY.

They say, “good fences, make good neighbors,” and while that may be true, I can say for certain that in Wilcox, Arizona, “good neighbors, make good fences” and other good choices that support sustainability. Nowhere is this more evident than at the C Bar Ranch where Tina Thompson and her family are hard at work raising angus beef cattle.

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Uplifting indigenous voices for a sustainable future in food

January 31, 2020

Assorted vegetables, fruits, meats, and grainsThis article was written by William H. Walker VI, a sophomore in the School of Sustainability. 

Modern consumers have lost touch with how food is more than a commodity and brings more than nutritional value. Cultural, spiritual, ecological and community values are bound up in everything we eat. For food systems to be more sustainable, consumers need to embrace indigenous and place-based food narratives that foster more equitable food systems. 

To push back against the common narrative of food for nutrition’s sake, the Wisdom of Indigenous Foodways conference highlighted uplifting agricultural, social and sustainable narratives from the indigenous community.

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The wisdom of indigenous foodways

January 27, 2020

top down view of dining table with food being sharedA food summit co-sponsored by Arizona State University brought indigenous voices to the forefront of a conversation about transforming our food system.

The ASU Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems, Food Tank and the University of Hawaii, West Oahu partnered for the inaugural Food Tank Summit, “The Wisdom of Indigenous Foodways." The event, which took place on January 22 at ASU Skysong, featured 22 speakers, almost all of them Native American or Native Hawaiian. Indigenous celebrity chefs Mariah Gladstone and Sean Sherman, founder and CEO of The Sioux Chef, were also present.

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In Conversation with Kathleen Merrigan

November 20, 2019

Kathleen MerriganWhat food policy decisions were made in the Situation Room in the Obama White House? What was the process like writing the National Organic Program standards? How do we solve climate change through agriculture? Can organic feed the world?

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