Tag Archives: san diego

WE HAVE MOVED!

Dearest friends,

Sorry for the lack of quality updates recently…we have had a lot going on…but we wanted to make sure that you all know that our newest posts and updates will be found at the site for our book: DollarADayBook.com

In addition to our most recent happenings, you will find lesson plans, quizzes, recipes and more at the new site, like Kerri’s most recent cooking experiment with Teese brand vegan cheese!

So from now on, we’ll catch up with you at the new site!

Warmly,

Christopher & Kerri

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As seen on Fox 5.

We did this interview on Sunday, and it ran later that evening, and will probably run again today. Click here to watch it!

Have a wonderful Monday!

– Christopher

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Christopher Speaks Up in New York Times “Room For Debate”

A recent article about food stamps in the New York Times created a flurry of fascinating comments on the New York Times website last week, and to further the discussion, the opinion editors asked six different people to contribute a piece for their “Room For Debate” section. The piece itself was supposed to be limited to 250 words, making it difficult to choose what to write about (we devoted a whole section to food stamps in our book). So I chose to focus mainly on the challenges that people in our area face, and to mildly ignore the word count restriction by about a hundred words. I figured that other writers would say many of the things that I wanted to (which they did), and thus decided to write about something that none of them would: San Diego.

Please take a minute to read all of the entries. It is an honor to have my voice next to political food legend Marion Nestle, and I hope that you’ll enjoy the discussion.

– Christopher

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Pathway to Food Freedom.

After tearing down an old decripit shed, and reusing some broken concrete to make a path around gardening beds, this piece of our backyard will soon feed us. Garden by Kerri. Photo by Christopher.

After tearing down an old decrepit shed, and reusing some broken concrete to make a path around gardening beds, this piece of our backyard will soon feed us. Garden by Kerri. Photo by Christopher.

This past week Christopher and I had a fence built so that I could give gardening in the backyard another try. The dogs are confused that their backyard is just a little smaller;  they don’t seem to understand why they can’t go behind the fence.

Learning to garden has been quite an experience for me, I feel like it will take years to master, but it is worth the time. For right now I am enjoying heading out to the back yard several times a day to check the progress. I planted late, so we still have not enjoyed all of  the fruits (actually veggies) of my labor, but every once in a while a bit of my garden is center stage at dinner.

I am finding out some tricks as I go along, such as there are several places where you can get cheap or inexpensive compost. Yesterday I enlisted the help of a friend with a truck and he took me down to the Mira Mar landfill where San Diego City residents can get 1-2 cubic yards  of compost for free and other county residents pay only $10.  There are several other places in San Diego county with similar offers. Of course, my load of compost ended up being more expensive than I had planned. When we got past the gates of the landfill, a large truck kicked up a rock and shattered the driver’s side window. While my friend was midsentence in telling me he was willing to help us get compost anytime, a shower of glass poured down over him. I wonder if he will retract his offer.

I bribed him to go with the promise of a car wash and free access to my garden as soon as things really started growing. After the broken window and the time he spent helping me fill my raised beds, I think he earned it. One of the joys of growing my own food is sharing it with others.

One co-worker stopped by the other day and dropped off peaches and plums from her yard just because I mentioned that I would be willing to share and trade any access that we have. Christopher’s mom stopped by  and I was able to send her home with lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, green beans, and figs and lemons from our trees. There is a certain amount of pride I feel when I hand over the bounty. I am  quick to note which ones I planted from seeds and which came from seedlings.  I am most  proud of those I grew by myself and thinning my seedlings is hard on me.  I don’t want to get rid of anything I worked so hard to grow.

Share with those you love,

Kerri

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A Farmers Market for Everyone.

For most people who receive food assistance from the government, shopping at a farmers market is out of the question. However, in City Heights, a low-income community in San Diego, the International Rescue Committee and the Farm Bureau have worked together to provide everyone with the chance to shop for local produce. Photo by Kerri.

For most people who receive food assistance from the government, shopping at a farmers market is out of the question. However, in City Heights, a low-income community in San Diego, the International Rescue Committee and the Farm Bureau have worked together to provide everyone with the chance to shop for local produce. Photo by Kerri.

On Saturday morning, Christopher and I took a trip outside of our usual range of travel. We went to City Heights, a community within San Diego, to learn about their farmers market.

Right away it was apparent that this farmers market differed from the one we are used to visiting. Ours is held at a local elementary school and has a wide variety of vendors and booths. In addition to fresh produce, you can purchase everything from crafts to fresh breads, and there is usually someone playing live music to the legions of locavores.

The City Heights farmers market is located on a blocked off street between a police station and low income housing.  There are significantly fewer vendors (this market is relatively new), and there weren’t many customers. However, as we walked past the booths we saw fresh greens stacked up and boxes of vegetables.

One vendor had long, slender, vibrant purple eggplants and dark green zucchinis at least a foot long.  I made a quick note to stop at that booth with the curly green kale for $1. What I first thought was a place for bike parking was group of  young punk rock volunteers teaching people how to re-build and repair bikes. But that is not why we went.

A table underneath a white canopy stood at the far end. There was a laptop, a wireless card swiping machine, a group of volunteers in colorful City Heights Farmers Market t-shirts and a sign that said “Use your EBT card here!!!”

Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT cards are swiped in exchange for tokens that can be used at any time at the farmers market. It is rare to even find a farmers market in a low income area, let alone one that accepts EBT.  In addition to helping people who already receive benefits, The San Diego chapter of the International Rescue Committee (IRC)  has volunteers helping to prescreen people to find out if they qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, and to help them fill out the initial paperwork.  They have volunteers who speak Spanish, Vietnamese and Somali.

This market is a joint effort between the IRC and the San Diego Farm Bureau which is also starting similar projects in two other areas. According to a volunteer with the IRC, San Diego County is  the worst in the nation for food stamp participation. This means that people who qualify are not receiving assistance for a variety of reasons. City Heights has the lowest participation rate in San Diego.

This was one of the busiest booths at the time we arrived. We waited in line to talk to someone. While we were there,  an older woman came up to find out what was going on and learned that she might qualify for a one time senior voucher.  A Somalian man was assisted by two women, one of  whom helped to translate.  No one was turned away as the volunteers explained the processes and helped people with their questions. While we waited we noticed a survey on poster paper asking customers how the market’s prices compared to those at the grocery store. Most of the feedback indicated that the prices were “similar” or “better.” When we spoke with two of the workers, one from the Farm Bureau and one from the IRC, we learned that they do survey’s every week to better serve their customers and vendors.

This particular market is able to offer “Fresh Funds.” Money is donated towards the program  and is distributed each week, so that people who spent $5 at the market get an additional $5 worth of tokens to spend there.  This encourages people to use their money on fresh fruits and vegetables and helps local farmers.

If you live near City Heights or another farmers market that accepts EBT and/or WIC, check them out and support their efforts. The City Heights farmers market Web page has great information about their programs and why it is beneficial to support community efforts that provide healthy food to all people regardless of income.

– Kerri

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Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks?

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Christopher has lived in the San Diego area for most of his life. During that time he has been to countless Padres games and swears he has never seen them win.  Yesterday, which happened to be the day after we ended our second project, we headed down to the park once again to root for the Padres. They won.  I think I was more excited than Christopher was.

The tickets were free, so we saved some money there, but we had an emergency with our kitty (that led to a trip to the vet and now the joy of tackling her twice a day to give her oral and topical antibiotics), and ran out of time to eat before we had to leave the house.  Leaving when we did, we still missed the the top of the first.

We decided to eat at the park, knowing that it would be an expensive meal. We were right.  I went to get us food during the top of the 3rd. Christopher handed me $15 and I laughed. He forked over another $20. I figured I would be bringing back change.

As I approached the counter I debated what to get. Due to the economy and the Padres low attendance, the stadium has a meal deal: 5 for $5. With that you can get a hot dog or veggie dog, peanuts, popcorn, a cookie and a small soda (16 oz). For $10 you can substitute a draft beer for the soda.

I knew I wanted a beer, which is always overpriced at games, and we both wanted two veggie dogs, because they are so small. Neither of us would eat the cookies and Christopher had told me twice that he wanted a pretzel, so I figured that was an important item. I felt silly as I agonized over what to do. How much would it cost to get two extra veggie dogs? Would Christopher still want a pretzel if  I came back with all the rest? What if I brought back the goods and he didn’t want popcorn and peanuts? Did I want peanuts?

We were both pretty hungry and I didn’t want to mess it up.  I left my phone in my purse which Christopher was watching, so I couldn’t phone a friend (Christopher) for help. Despite the low attendance (which was still over 27,000 people), the line was long and I was almost up to the front. Did I really want to trek back to the seats and get in line all over again?

In the end, I made the choice that I thought would be best. I stuck to our original plan. As soon as the cashier finished ringing me up I wished I had gone with the deal. I am pretty sure that when I handed Christopher his $1.50 in change he felt the same way.

Despite the fact that the stadium is offering reduced prices, an article in Friday’s New York times claims that  wholesale food costs went up in April, while a second article by the same reporter discussed the fact that consumer costs have held steady.  Another article in the business section, also from Friday,  points out that even though prices to the consumer are steady, there are several large food manufacturers which, “concede that they cannot ensure the safety of items -from frozen vegetables to pizzas- and that they are shifting the burden to the consumer.”  It is unclear which ingredients may be responsible, and several items have been recalled this year including six tons of frozen egg rolls.

This made us consider the food from the game.  These companies probably played a role in most, if not all of what we ate, which is probably the case at most ball parks.  It  hit home that  price shouldn’t be our only concern when buying  food.

Kerri

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Dancing “Food Justice”?

The Stone Soup Storytelling group dances out their version of how convential produces makes it to our plates.

Appearing at the Cultivating Food Justice conference in San Diego, the Stone Soup Storytelling group dances out their version of how conventional produce makes it to our plates. Photo by Christopher Greenslate.

Christopher told me a few weeks ago that he had signed us up for a conference on gardening this weekend. I have decided that maybe it was good that my first attempt at gardening became a snack for the dogs because my latest attempt is looking a little too yellow. I figured that I could benefit from some tips. What I did not realize, was that when he said “weekend”, he meant that it started on Friday night. The last thing I wanted to do after working late nights all week was drive almost an hour in traffic to a conference. But I went. I knew that once we got there I would be fine, it was just difficult to get motivated.

I was right, and I am glad we went.

The conference was not about gardening as I thought it would be, but instead about Food Justice. Throughout the conference, community gardens were one of the solutions offered to start making progress. The two speakers on Friday night were impressive. Rufina Juarez, a woman who was a part of the South Central Community Garden in Los Angeles, spoke about her community’s struggle to keep their garden, and the need for healthy food options in low income areas. The 30 tons of produce from the new location of their farm is taken to farmer’s markets in South Central. The fight to keep the community project was chronicled in an Academy Award nominated documentary called “The Garden“.

LaDonna Redman from Chicago spoke of how she learned about food and became active due to her son’s food allergies. A common theme from the conference was that many people seem to feel that people in need deserve food, but it is less common for us to think that they deserve healthy food.

Additionally, due to the current economic situation, more people are struggling and  trying to find less expensive ways to eat. In fact, the New York Times reported yesterday that restaurants are starting to offer menu items such as the cleverly named “Bailout Package” and other reduced price meal options in an attempt to draw customers into their restaurants, many which are trying to stay open.

The Conference was organized by the San Diego chapter of a group called Food Not Lawns. We went to sessions on traditional farming, local food stamp participation, and nutritional racism. One thing that struck me was the dedication of the community to trying to solve some of these issues.

However, the dancing and singing vegetables at lunch stole the show.

– Kerri

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