Slow Food OC has supported the fantastic garden program at Tustin Memorial Academy (TMA) in a variety of ways over the past few years. Most recently the garden program was a recipient of our first micro grant to fund their Green Bucks program. At TMA, each class and grade level at the school is responsible for planting, maintaining, and harvesting specific crops in the garden.
The Green Bucks program rewards students for outstanding participation in the garden program. The Green Bucks have cash value that students can use to make purchases of produce and value-added products at a weekly after-school market stand. The Green Bucks could also be entered into a raffle to win a cooking class presented by Slow Food Orange County, Chair and chef, Linda Elbert.
About 50 students were awarded with participation in the cooking class. The recipe they made was titled “Garden Wrap-Ups” and when completed looked like individual sushi rolls only made with vegetables, quinoa, humus and a kale leaf wrapper. The recipe was designed to utilize produce grown by the students. Kale, leeks, carrots, parsley, chives, and spring onions all came from the garden. Parents donated time prepping ingredients for student use and turning the school’s multipurpose room into a kitchen. It was exciting to see the students enjoy making and eating a dish using ingredients from their own garden. It was clear to see the positive effect growing garden vegetables as well as the opportunity to prepare their own food had on the students’ willingness to try new foods. They enjoyed both making and eating the “Garden Wrap-Ups.”
Slow Food OC supports school gardens as a way of introducing the ideas of good, clean and fair food for all to young people. Our goal is that students will adopt these values at a young age and develop life-long healthy eating habits. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with TMA and hope to offer similar support to other school garden programs.
From Keith Schildt
California Policy Committee Member
State Senate Bill 1381 (SB1381) was introduced by Senator Evans and co-authored by Senators DeSaulnier and Pavley. The bill would require labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients. This bill has a lot of roadblocks going forward but has seen some surprising initial success. Typically, a proposed bill once introduced will be assigned to one or two committees. SB1381 has been assigned to three committees, which means there will be three places the bill could get stopped. The three committees are: Health, Judiciary, and Agriculture. In terms of advocacy, no Orange County state senators sit on any of these committees.
In good news for those advocating for GMO labeling, after a lengthy day of testimony at a public hearing, on March 26, the bill passed out of the Senate Health Committee. The vote was 5-2. Voting in favor of the bill were Senators DeSaulnier, Evans, Beal, Monning, and Wolk. Voting against the bill were Senators Hernadez and Anderson. Senators Nielsen and DeLeon did not cast a vote. There was strong showing of about 30 people in support of the bill at the hearing but the opposition, also in attendance, was a well-organized and financed coalition of organizations including the Farm Bureau, University of California Davis, and the Grocers Association. This same coalition fought hard and successfully against the Prop 37 GMO Labeling initiative in 2012.
A slightly amended SB1381 now moves onto the Judiciary Committee. The co-chair of this committee, Anderson, is also on the Health Committee and voted against SB1381 in that committee’s vote. At this juncture, there are no committee hearings set for the bill. If it clears the Judiciary Committee, it will move to a very difficult Agriculture Committee.
Even though Orange County has no representation on any of these committees, the California Slow Food Policy Committee urges everyone to contact their state senator and ask them to contact their colleagues on the Judiciary and Agriculture committees and vote in favor of SB1381.
What directions, projects and events would you like to see Slow Food Orange County take on in the coming year? This will be the topic of our Steering Committee meeting on Wednesday, April 16. Please email your ideas to the steering committee before the meeting, Even better, join us at the meeting! We will be discussing goals, doing some long range planning and creating an event calendar for the coming year. Let us hear what you are thinking!