Posts Tagged ‘introductions’

Posted on July 5, 2011 - by

A FRESH Voice: Introducing Zoë Carpenter

Photo: S. Young

We’re happy to introduce you to Zoë Carpenter, a new writer for our blog. Here are some of her thoughts on food and food systems.

My relationship with food is more of an inheritance than an interest. My mother raised me in her garden, a jungly patchwork of vegetables, berries, and flowers carved out of the Oregon rainforest where we lived. My first intelligible word was “radish.” I fancied myself a baker by the time I was seven, and put on elaborate tea-parties for a loyal clientele of teddy bears and dolls, serving cakes made from my own secret recipes. I learned quickly that baking soda is a thing best used in moderation.

It wasn’t until I went further afield that I started thinking about the politics bound  with agriculture and eating. I studied public health in India, China, and South Africa, and was surprised to notice how great a role the food system played in health and development trends. In my research on HIV transmission pathways, I found that changing climate patterns, food imports, and the failure of Green Revolution technologies had made life nearly impossible for small farmers in rural parts of southern India. This spurred massive seasonal migration to urban centers, journeys that drove infectious disease across vast distances. Through my travels, I came to understand that dysfunctional food systems make for a weak society, just as poor nutrition makes for a sick body.

Last summer I explored the pleasurable aspects of food as a WWOOFer in Italy and Ireland. I weeded and planted, battled nettles and whitewashed a barn, capped hundreds of bottles of fresh juice, and ate my fair share of gorgonzola and gelato. More often than not, I spent the evenings scrubbing a sticky mix of sugar, pollen, and dirt from my neck and arms.

I saw FRESH for the first time last winter, in an old grocery building in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. The building was home to an urban gardening project and alternative school that I was writing about in my senior thesis. Just a few garden beds and a handful of activists were starting to repair broken links in our education, economic, social and environmental systems. It convinced me that creative ways of thinking about food—growing it, distributing it, eating it—have an enormous capacity to effect change.

I’ve been writing for almost as long as I’ve been gardening, and I’m looking forward to joining the discussion of more sustainable and just ways of growing and eating as a FRESH blogger. I’ll be doing so from Portland, Oregon, where I’ll also be planting radishes. Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section, or email me at


Posted on May 18, 2011 - by

A Sea of Questions: The FRESH Sustainable Seafood Series

So you carefully buy eco-friendly steaks and strawberries, but when it comes to seafood, the waters get a bit cloudy. Farmed or wild salmon? How about farmed fish from a closed aquaponic system? Are cod, haddock and whiting the same or different fish? What does it mean when scallops come from a “day boat”?

Given the myriad questions surrounding our fish, FRESH is proud to announce a new series on sustainable seafood. With help from our partners in the seafood world, we will be publishing a series of blog posts with information and practical tips to help you answer these questions and more. We’ll also be organizing campaigns so you can participate in the fight to protect our oceans and seafood resources.

At FRESH, we started thinking seriously about seafood when we realized lots of eco-savvy people are confused about these issues. Take, for instance, restaurant offerings. Have you ever eaten at a restaurant that touted their locally sourced organic pork and fingerling potatoes while listing tuna on the menu? Unfortunately, even conscientious restaurants sometimes turn a blind eye when it comes to sourcing environmentally-friendly fish. Keeping up with the latest watch lists can be an enormous challenge for time-strapped chefs, and it is no easier for regular consumers.

Why is it so much more difficult to find sustainable sources for seafood compared to land-based meats and vegetables? Quipped science reporter Eric Vance,“Counting fish is just as easy as counting trees—except the fish are invisible and move.” Certifying seafood stocks as sustainable involves a certain amount of guesswork and faith. Unlike a herd of cattle, fish migrate from ocean to ocean, are harvested by fishermen in many countries, and battle ever-changing environmental threats. That means the health of a fish population is constantly in flux, and evaluating its sustainability requires knowledge on its origin and how it was caught—a tall order!

Luckily, we’re going to help you navigate these murky waters. Over the next few weeks, FRESH will give you background information on why our seafood stocks are in peril, and what choices you can make to improve your health and the health of the planet. To kick start our series, we’ve compiled a handy list of tools that can be used to help decide what fish to purchase. We’ve also included links to major ocean watch groups and aquariums that provide resources for consumers. Check it out!

If you have an issue that you’d like to see covered, drop a line. If you are involved in the sustainable seafood realm and would like to be a guest writer, we’d love to hear from you too. You can leave tips and comments below, or send them to


Posted on April 22, 2011 - by

New Directions for FRESH

I can’t barely believe it’s been almost two years since I completed FRESH and released it with an impromptu tour of 9 cities. I was 8 months pregnant, a distribution deal had just fallen through, and I knew that if I didn’t want FRESH to be buried before it could see the light of day, I had to distribute it myself.

So I borrowed some more money and, on a friend’s recommendation, I hired Lisa Madison, part-time, and set up to self-distribute FRESH. And man was that good advice! You’ve all gotten to know Lisa really well in the past two years. Lisa became FRESH. With the birth of my daughter so soon after we launched our distribution, Lisa found herself in charge of developing and implementing our plans. She organized community screenings (and helped you organize yours), answered your inquiries, and kept you informed and active through her posts and campaigns.

FRESH is truly the expression of the incredible people who participated in its creation. The farmers and thinkers portrayed in the movie, of course. But also the cinematographer, editor, composer, sound mixer, etc. whose crafts and talents shaped the movie. Lisa joined this amazing group of people and her many incredible qualities ensured that FRESH would be forging new grounds in activist distribution.

Lisa is now moving on start a new business StoryKeep, with Jamie Yuenger, who also previously worked for FRESH. StoryKeep creates intimate audio and visual portraits for families and businesses, helping to preserve life stories as heirlooms. Jamie and Lisa are both trained documentarians and will no doubt create beautiful stories together. Check them out at Lisa will also continue to support filmmakers who wish to develop a grassroots distribution strategy for their movie.

And although I am sad to see Lisa leave, I’m really excited to welcome Crystal Cun to the FRESH team. Crystal was an obvious choice: she had been blogging for FRESH already for a while and her passion about good food shined through her writing. With Crystal on board, we’re hoping to continue to serve, support, and grow the good food movement. Toward this goal, we’re developing some new projects. For instance, we’re developing our blog to provide you with FRESH perspectives on what’s happening in our food system, including tips for a healthier and more sustainable life. We’re also looking to support regional campaigns. It’s our belief that our impact can be most meaningful and significant on the local level. Last but not least, we’re looking to expand our platform by offering a great activist documentary the opportunity to partner up with us.

Crystal and I are eager to hear your feedback and ideas, so please email us with ideas for FRESH tips, issues you’re confused about or would like us to campaign around, information about what’s going on in your city, state, or region and how we can help, and last but not least, good documentaries you think we should consider partnering up with!


Posted on March 25, 2011 - by

A FRESH Voice: Introducing Jenny Holm

Photo: M. Holm

The FRESH team keeps growing, and we’re happy to introduce you to Jenny Holm, a new writer for our blog. Here are some of her thoughts on food and food systems – take it away, Jenny!

I’m often asked how I “got into food,” and the truth is I’m not really sure. I wasn’t aware that I thought more about it than other people until a friend commented on the way I pored over the snack table at a high school New Year’s Eve party: “It’s like you’re choosing an engagement ring instead of a carrot stick.”

And in a way, perhaps, I was. Much like a husband, my trifold passion–for writing, sustainable food systems, and gastronomic adventure–has taken me places I never imagined I’d go. Somewhere between a short-lived stint as a chef in my college’s student cafe, an internship at a food magazine where I shared my desk with 68 jars of unique honeys and was once sent home with a crocodile steak in my purse, and WWOOFing on a permaculture-based farm in Vermont last summer, I fell hard.

After college in my native Minnesota, I spent a joyful year eating my way through southwestern Russia, where I learned how to make tea from fermented mushrooms, what sausage made from nutria (a type of swamp rat with orange fangs) tastes like, and a whole lot about borscht.

It wasn’t until I moved to Washington, DC for a job and got involved with the local Slow Food chapter that I started to delve deeper into the economic, environmental, and public health consequences of the way our current food system is structured. I’ve been here since 2009, minus the semester I recently spent in the Republic of Georgia teaching English to schoolkids, making wine, and picking tangerines. If you’re interested in reading more about any of these experiences, check out my personal blog Gusto: Eating with Pleasure.

I’m looking forward to sharing explorations of our evolving food system through the FRESH blog, and hope to learn from you, as well. Leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section, or feel free to e-mail me any time at


Posted on January 29, 2011 - by

A FRESH Voice: Introducing Crystal Cun

Photo: J. Ake

About a year ago, I sat in a darkened screening room for FRESH at the Family Farmed Expo convention in Chicago. On the screen was a fecund clump of dirt, writhing with dozens of rosy worms. “Black gold,” said farmer Will Allen, as he gently returned the earth to its place. The message was undeniable: healthy soil is the most valuable gem we can have, for our planet, for ourselves and for generations to come.

My name is Crystal Cun, and I am thrilled to be a new writer for the FRESH blog. Over the next few months, I plan to write about issues in sustainable living, faces and places involved in the good food movement, and what you can do to make a difference in the world.

Currently, I am wrapping up my master’s degree in Food Culture and Communication at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. At the university, I study and research ways to promote sustainable food systems, fight the hegemony of fast food culture, and bring the public closer to the sources of their diet. I’ll be reporting from Europe for a few more weeks, then moving to New York in March. For more information on my work for the past year, you can check out Lady Parmalade.

In my past lives, I studied economics at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, then worked in economics research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. For the requisite character-building experience, I have also done stints in restaurants and hotels as a professional napkin folder, room service cart runner and smoothie maker. Last summer, I spent some time volunteering through WWOOF on a cattle farm in Tuscany, where I learned about welding, Australian folk music and how to look for shooting stars.

I apologize in advance for any bad puns about to come your way.

Do let me know if you have any remarks, suggestions, or food offerings by leaving comments on the blog, or sending an email to