San Diego Reader: Where to buy really fresh fish

Elly Brown is coordinator for the San Diego Food System Alliance. The group advocates for food-system changes through lobbying for and participating in crafting public policy, offering support for urban agriculture, better food access for those in need, and new business models like the fishermen’s market. During a celebration of the passage of the Pacific-to-Plate law, Brown says, “There’s a tremendous amount of food resources available in the county, from the fisheries to craft breweries, small organic farms... It really is a vibrant economy, and we want to nurture that. We want to build a model of ‘good food’ in San Diego that can be used across the nation.”

Where to buy really fresh fish
Feel free to stray away from the salmon
By Dave Rice, Jan. 6, 2016
Read the full article here

San Diego County To Create Incentive Zones For Urban Farms

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

By City News Service

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday to start the process toward creating incentive zones for urban agriculture in the region.

Supervisors Diane Jacob and Ron Roberts brought the policy forward, calling it an extension of the county's "Live Well San Diego" health initiative.

"It's providing more opportunities for people to learn about food and to have healthy food," Roberts said.

"There's collateral benefits, in that we have blighted lots and we can turn them into something that produces food and that involves a safer cleaner environment," Roberts said. "This just fits in with everything that we're doing and a healthier, happier, safer community will result from this."

Under the program, owners who dedicate vacant, blighted or unimproved land for farming use will be assessed at a lower property tax rate, which was authorized by state legislation two years ago.

According to a county staff report, the property tax assessment would be based on the average per-acre land value of irrigated cropland in California. In August, that figure was $12,700 per acre, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

San Diego County Farm Bureau Executive Director Eric Larson said the incentive program would help part-time farmers build their business while deciding on the future of their agriculture operation.

He also said the average age of a San Diego farmer is 61. The high cost of land and barriers faced in getting acquiring farmable land has led to a dearth of young farmers, according to Larson.

San Diego County has the highest concentration of part-time farmers in the United States, according to Larson.

Diane Moss, with the San Diego Food Systems Alliance, said the program could help grow community gardens throughout the neighborhoods of southeast San Diego.

Kristin Kvernland, youth garden manager for local nonprofit Second Chance, echoed Moss' support.

"The main goal is to keep access flowing in different communities, to help transform and beautify neighborhoods and to help employ community members," Kvernland said.

Supporters of the incentive program also say it provides tangible financial incentives for a landowner who may not be interested in immediately developing vacant land.

Roberts said the program makes financial sense for the county.

"I'm a big supporter of sustainable urban farming and believe incentivizing small scale urban agriculture in our urban cores will be good for the environment and ultimately serve to promote better food choices for our residents," the supervisor said.

Roberts said he comes from a farming family on the East Coast, and as a parent, he's realized how important it is to educate children and young people about food systems.

The program can be applied to both unincorporated county areas and the region's 18 cities.

County staff were directed to create a framework for evaluating urban agriculture proposals by identifying eligible properties, providing notice to agencies that set taxes and fees based on assessments, and preparing a fiscal analysis.

Staff will report back on the feasibility of the program in six months.

KPBS "Summit To Tackle Impact Of Food Waste In San Diego County"

"Food waste is a national problem but we believe it takes local solutions," Elly Brown, facilitator for the San Diego Food System Alliance, told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday. "It requires more coordinated solutions — more efficiency between farm to fork."

To listen to the live radio broadcast of Mid Day Edition, visit KPBS link.

Evening Edition host Peggy Pico talks with Elly Brown from the San Diego Food System Alliance and Kelly Kratzer, a food rescue coordinator with Feeding America San Diego, about the impact of food waste in the county.

San Diego Reader "Southern California wasters, listen up. 'Hunger is not a supply problem, it's a distribution problem.'"

Southern California wasters, listen up

"Hunger is not a supply problem, it's a distribution problem."

By Dave RiceOct. 8, 2015

Article link

At an event on Tuesday, October 6, organized by the San Diego Food System Alliance, a crowd of food and waste professionals shared their roles in solving the problems in our local supply chain and explored opportunities to work together to reduce waste and solve hunger.

Plenty of Waste to Solve Hunger

"We have about half a million food-insecure people in the county," says Victory Gardens San Diego co-director Richard Winkler. "And coincidentally, we waste half a million tons of food every year. And that number's conservative — we've seen estimates much higher."

At the October 6th conference

Put another way, Winkler notes that low estimate indicates San Diegans are wasting a billion pounds of food annually. Meanwhile, local food banks and other programs that feed at-risk populations say they're coming up short of filling their needs by about 27,000 tons — roughly 5 percent of the total waste amount.

"When we think about hunger, people who are food insecure, we think about populations in Africa…we don’t often think about our neighbors," said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, child health medical officer for the county. But, “County by county, in Southern California we have some of the highest rates of food insecurity for children nationwide."

More Food, More Problems

Food-waste problems, panelists say, don't stop with good food being thrown out that could be used to feed those in need. A full 25 percent of the nation's water use, Winkler says, goes toward producing edibles that will end up in landfills.

As much as 40 percent of all food produced goes uneaten, and that waste comprises 15 percent of the contents of local landfills.

"Organic materials create all the problems in the landfill," said Michael Wonsidler, a coordinator for the county's Solid Waste Planning & Recycling Section, responsible for overseeing a state-mandated 50 percent landfill-diversion rate. "You've got methane that's generated when food waste degrades," for example.

Wonsidler adds that decomposing food, which is mostly water, leaches down through toxic materials, releasing chemicals into underground water supplies. He says that diverting food from landfills for use in composting and energy generation gives the waste a new life and helps avoid some of the toxic conditions it creates in dumps.

Promising Solutions

A case study at the Ramona Unified School District was shared, wherein food waste was reduced dramatically — a fifth was cut out by preparing smaller batches of school meals; the same reduction was achieved again by distributing unused stock to food banks before it spoiled.

Another third of the waste was used to feed livestock, which had the added benefit of reducing animal-feed bills by half.

Chuck Voelker, representing San Pasqual Valley Soils and the Frank Konyn Dairy, shared a similar story. Cows from the dairy are fed items that would be considered waste to humans but still contain valuable nutrients for animals, including waste from bakeries and spent grain used at breweries around the county. The manure then travels to the soil farm, where it's converted into compost for re-use in local gardens.

Environmental Protection Agency representative Andre Villasenor shared an EPA-prepared online tool kit he said could reduce household food waste (and bills) by up to a quarter.

Rick Nahmias of Los Angeles–based Food Forward mentioned how he'd taken the idea of "backyard harvesting," or arranging volunteers to pick and donate fruit from homeowners whose trees were producing more than they could consume, and grown an enterprise that has reclaimed more than 13 million pounds of food that would have otherwise spoiled. Local groups CropSwap San Diego and Harvest CROPS had booths at the event promoting similar practices locally.

"Hunger is not a supply problem, it's a distribution problem," Nahmias said.

Chuck Samuelson, founder of Kitchens For Good, explained his business model of reclaiming cosmetically unappealing food and using it to prepare meals for vulnerable county residents, employing and providing job training for members of the same communities.

"We'll take squishy tomatoes that food banks can't distribute and turn them into tomato sauce. We want to take bruised apples and turn them into apple pie, apple jelly, something — keep it in the food system," said Samuelson.

Moving Forward

"We think this is a very good time to end hunger and food waste in the county," says Winkler, referring California's AB 1826, a law that will incrementally force the commercial sector to begin diverting organic waste away from landfills.

"There is really no such thing as waste. Everything we waste is a resource, especially food," concludes Winkler, a sentiment echoed by several other speakers throughout the afternoon.