Working for Good, Clean, Fair Food for All - Slow Food Urban San Diego Convivium of Slow Food International

How Recycling Food Waste is Water Wise: An Interview with San Diego Food System Alliance’s Elly Brown

By Kathryn Rogers, SFUSD Board of Directors

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With no end in sight to the California drought, local organizations are seeking sustainable solutions to address all aspects of water use. The San Diego Food System Alliance, coordinated by Elly Brown, is collaborating with other local non-profits to process and minimize food waste  – a surprising issue of importance in the water conservation dialogue.

According to a recent Natural Resources Defense Council report, getting food from the farm to our forks eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. This means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year and wasting a significant amount of water at the same time. What’s more, researchers at the NIH have found that food waste accounts for over 25% of total freshwater consumption. Not to mention the approximately 300 million barrels of oil per year for transporting this wasted food along with the methane and CO2 emissions from decomposing food in our landfills.

water-sprinklers-880970_1280The good news is that the state of California recently passed legislation to begin addressing some of these issues. Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1826 in October 2014, which requires local jurisdictions to have an organic waste recycling program in place by January 1, 2016, and businesses to recycle their organic waste by April 1, 2016.

A forward-thinking policy, no doubt, but how will it be implemented locally?

The Food System Alliance is working in San Diego County to create polices and solutions to address huge gaps in terms of infrastructure for handling food waste. Food System Alliance researchers recently estimated that San Diegans produce 500,000 tons of food waste, but local composting facilities can only process an estimated 10,000 tons of this waste. We still have a long way to go.

Public awareness about how much food waste we are producing and how to store and recycle this waste properly is a critical piece to the story as well. “The National Resource Defense Council and Ad Council are doing a national awareness campaign around food waste launching in early 2016, and we plan to dovetail and build upon that locally,” says Brown.

Ground-level efforts are also helping to educate community members about waste issues and engage them in opportunities to create change. The Food System Alliance has collaborated with the Wild Willow Farm, Hidden Resources, and Sweetwater School District to pilot a Food Recovery Program. The Food System Alliance will also convene groups and individuals for a half-day summit on food waste on October 6: the Food Waste Solution Summit.

“Water conservation should not only be happening in our homes but also in our food system as well by creating less waste and encouraging efficiencies,” says Brown.

To learn more about local efforts to conserve water, join the Food System Alliance and other community partners at Slow Food Urban San Diego’s Annual Good Food Community Fair on October 11.


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Café Virtuoso to Address Fair Trade Coffee Roasting and Water Conservation at the Good Food Community Fair

By Tania Alatorre, SFUSD Board Member and Good Food Community Fair Coordinator

Savannah PicWe’re pleased to announce that Café Virtuoso will present at this year’s Good Food Community Fair. Café Virtuoso, founded and owned by Laurie Britton, is the only 100% certified organic and fair-trade coffee roaster in San Diego. Her unique café and roasting facility is located in Barrio Logan, a few blocks from Quartyard, making them the perfect community partner.

Laurie has owned the cafe since 2007. Her daughter Savannah works alongside her and trains their talented team of baristas, and leads café coffee classes and “cuppings,” the practice of observing tastes and aromas of brewed coffees. Both have a profound passion for coffee and for supporting organic and fair trade coffees in addition to being long-time supporters of Slow Food. They have a wealth of knowledge of the global coffee industry and sell a unique range of organic beans and teas that they share with their staff. It’s not uncommon that you walk into the Café Virtuoso and learn something new about the coffee you’re about to enjoy. Chat with the baristas, they know their stuff.

restaurant-coffee-cup-cappuccinoSavannah will kick-off the Good Food Community Fair special programming at 11AM with an engaging conversation on how Café Virtuoso selects coffee from farms around the world, roast beans in house, how they have paved the way for women in coffee in San Diego, and what they are doing to conserve water at their café and roasting headquarters. Stay for their latest cold brew paired with Nomad Donuts donut holes!

You can also find Café Virtuoso at the Little Italy farmers market on Saturday’s.

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Master Gardeners Educate and Service San Diego Communities

by Nathan Yick, Slow Food SDSU Chapter Leader

master gardener community gardenSan Diego has over 300* Master Gardeners, passionate gardeners who serve and educate San Diegans on pest control and horticulture for free. Part of a rigorous training program founded in 1980, by the University of California Cooperative Extension, they work alongside teachers and parents helping children with their garden projects. They help community gardens overcome challenges with their plots, and with the drought plaguing California, their services and knowledge are much needed in the gardens.

To help San Diego communities combat the drought, the Master Gardeners have developed their Earth Friendly Gardening program. This program trains gardeners in sustainable gardening addressing things like how to adapt to the drought by providing information on creating an earth friendly garden–information on how to conserve water, maintain soil quality, and reduce waste. Thanks to the Master Gardeners, Community Gardens all over San Diego, like the Agape House by San Diego State University, have thrived and continue to provide fresh and local produce for the community.

“One of my favorite things about being a Master Gardener is helping people with their gardening challenges,” says Dominick Fiume who became a Master Gardener through working at the Ark of Taste Heritage Garden in Old Town State Park.

As fulfilling and rewarding experience it is being a Master Gardener, becoming one takes a lot of work. To become certified, students go through a training program consisting of 16 weekly classes taught by agricultural experts which educate aspiring volunteers on pest management and horticulture. They must pass an exam and then volunteer regularly as well as continue their education to keep their certification.

Through their commitment, knowledge and passion for public service in gardening and pest control, the Master Gardeners have helped San Diego communities preserve and create more sustainable gardens.

SFUSD is excited that this passionate and knowledgeable San Diego resource is participating in our 2015 Good Food Community Fair. Look for their booth on wise water use.

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*the original story in the Sept newsletter reported there were over 60 Master Gardeners in San Diego. San Diego has over 300.