5 Cozy Soups for a Cold Winter

COzy soups for the winter

As the temperature drops and daylight fades, my search for warmth leads me to the ultimate winter companion – a steaming bowl of soup. Below are 5 of my go-to soup recipes that have become my daily solace during the colder months. These hearty creations not only warm the body but also embrace the current bountiful offerings of local, seasonal produce.

While these recipes are vegan, these recipes are versatile and easily adjustable to your own dietary preference.

 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS
• 26.5 oz butternut squash (1 small butternut squash)
• 3 carrots
• 1 white onion
• 2-3 cloves garlic
• 2 tsp olive oil
• 1-2 tbsp curry powder
• ⅔ cup red lentils, dried
• 3 cups vegetable broth
• 1 can coconut milk
• 1 inch ginger, fresh
• Salt and pepper to taste
TOPPINGS
• 4 tsp roasted pumpkin seeds-optional

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Peel and dice the squash, carrots, onions, and garlic and fry them in oil for one minute in a large saucepan.
2. Peel and finely dice the ginger. Add it together with the curry powder to the pot and fry for another minute. Tip in the lentils, vegetable broth, coconut milk and give it a good stir.
3. Bring it to boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 15-18 mins until everything is tender.
4. Use a hand blender and blend it until smooth then season with salt and pepper.
5. Top with roasted pumpkin seeds(optional) and enjoy!

Beet and Kohlrabi Soup

This is also makes a good cold soup for the summer!

INGREDIENTS
• 4 small-medium red beets, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces.
• 2 medium kohlrabies, peeled cut into ¼-inch pieces.
• ½ inch fresh ginger root, peeled
• 4 cups water
• 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
• 1 tsp turmeric powder
• ½ tspground cumin
• ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
• Pinch of ground cardamom
• Himalayan salt to taste
• Dash of lime juice to taste
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Put beets, kohlrabi, ginger, and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until beets are fork tender.
2. Transfer soup to a blender. Add spices and lime juice. Purée on high until creamy and smooth. Return soup back to the pot. Add more water if soup is too thick.
3. Add olive oil and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste.
4. Serve and enjoy!

Thai Red Curry Soup with Eggplant and Cauliflower 

INGREDIENTS
• 5 shallots, diced small
• 2 tbsp coconut oil
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1- inch cube of ginger, shredded
• 2 medium-size red bell peppers, diced
• 1 small head cauliflower
• 8 small eggplants
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 2 cans coconut milk
• 4 cups vegetable broth
• ½ block of firm tofu cut into ½” cubes
• 4-8 tbsp red curry paste (adjust up or down depending on your heat tolerance)
• 8 oz. wide rice noodles
• Juice of one lime plus 2 limes, quartered (for optional garnish)
• Cilantro, for garnish
• Thai basil, for garnish
• Additional salt to taste, if needed

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. In a large pot, bring about 8 cups of water to a boil and cook the noodles until al dente. Drain noodles with cold water and rinse. Set aside.
3. Cut eggplant into 1” cubes and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tbsp. vegetable oil, ½ tsp salt and toss. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping at the halfway mark.
4. While the eggplant cooks, place a pot on the stove over medium heat and add the coconut oil and shallots. Sauté onions until translucent and add the garlic and ginger. Sauté the onions garlic and ginger about for one minute.
5. Add half of the curry paste to the onion mixture and sauté for another minute. Add the cauliflower, tofu and red pepper to the pot and continue sautéing for another 3 minutes.
6. Add the coconut milk and broth to the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer. Continue simmering for about 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower becomes slightly tender. Turn the heat to low, and once the eggplant has finished baking, add it to the soup and stir, simmering another 2 minutes.
7. Add the rest of the curry paste a bit at a time, stirring and tasting after each addition until it suits your preference. Finish with the lime juice and add salt to taste.
8. To serve, place desired amount of noodles into soup bowls and pour soup over the noodles. Garnish with chopped cilantro and basil leaves. Serve with a dollop of chili garlic sauce, for an extra kick. Serve with lime wedges for extra acidity, if desired.

Creamy Wild Rice Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 (8-ounce) package crimini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • ¾ cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup thinly sliced leek (white part only)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper.
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme.
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Combine the stock, mushrooms, wild rice, leek, and garlic in a 5-quart Dutch oven or soup pot. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes or until the rice is tender (kernels will start to pop open). Stir in the bell peppers, carrot, and salt. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes more.

2. Combine the almond flour and chickpea flour in a small bowl; stir in ¼ cup water. Stir the mixture into the soup. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Stir in up to ½ cup more water to reach the desired consistency. Stir in the thyme and vinegar.

Grilled Tofu miso noodle soup

INGREDIENTS
Marinated Tofu
• 12-ounce block of extra-firm tofu
• 1 tbsp water
• 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
• 1 tbsp liquid aminos
• 1/2 tsp garlic powder
• 1/2 tsp onion powder
• 1/2 tsp maple syrup
• 1/4 tsp ground ginger
• Pinch of salt
Veggies
• 1 cup sliced red cabbage
• 1 cup sliced brussels sprouts
• 1 cup slivered red onion
• 2 cups broccoli florets, bite-sized
Broth and Garnish
• 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
• 4 cups vegetable broth
• 4 cups water
• 1/4 cup liquid aminos
• 6 ounces brown rice pad thai noodles
• 2 tbsp white miso paste
• 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
• 1/4 cup diced green onion.
• 2 tsp black sesame seeds

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Drain the water from the tofu, wrap tightly in a clean cloth, and press it, by putting heavy objects on top of it, for 15 to 20 minutes. While your tofu is being pressed, prep your vegetables.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together water, sesame oil, liquid aminos, garlic powder, onion powder, maple syrup, and ginger until combined.
3. Once most of the moisture is pressed out of your block of tofu, cut it into 32 pieces (or cut it into quarters, then those pieces in half for 8 rectangles, and lastly cutting those into quarters). Place pieces in a shallow container and pour marinade over the top, moving them around to get them coated. Marinate for 15 minutes, get started on cooking veggies and preparing broth.
4. Heat up your cast iron (use a panini press for those cool, grilled lines) and cook the slices of cabbage and red onion for 2 mins each side. Cook the tofu & brussels sprouts for 4-6 minutes until browned on each side.
5. While the veggies are cooking, warm toasted sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic and ginger to the pot and sauté until the garlic begins to brown lightly. Add broth, water and liquid aminos to the pot and bring to a boil.
6. Once boiling, add broccoli and rice noodles to the water, and cook according to the noodles packaging. Halfway through, add in half of the grilled vegetables and continue to cook.
7. When the noodles are tender, turn off stove and stir in miso paste until dissolved. Divide soup between four large soup/noodle bowls, arrange remaining grilled vegetables, grilled tofu, cilantro, green onions, and black sesame seeds on top and serve!

all of these ingredients can be found at the Davis Food Co-op

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The Farm Bill of 2023

The current 2018 Farm Bill is expiring on September 30th and members of Congress in the House and Senate are continuing to develop their drafts for its renewal as the government works to avoid a shutdown.

The Farm Bill sets policy for agriculture, forest health, food aid programs, conservation, and other areas overseen by the Department of Agriculture. 

Many agriculture and advocacy groups over these past few months have convened listening sessions and voiced their concerns and hopes for the future Farm Bill. Some are hoping the new bill will include boosted support for environmental programs, like paying farmers to develop land conservation plans and incentivizing practices like cover crops to promote soil health.

If Congress fails to pass a new bill by Jan. 1, 2024,

some programs will revert back to 1940s-era policy

that, among other things, would see the U.S. Department of Agriculture buying dairy products off the market, driving up consumer prices.

Who writes the Farm Bill?

The Farm Bill is authored by members of Congress on the House Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

What is not included in the Farm Bill?
There are several policy areas that are not included in the Farm Bill. Some of these include farm and food workers’ rights and protections; public land grazing rights; Food and Drug Administration food safety; renewable fuels standards; the Clean Water Act; and tax issues.

What programs are covered by the Farm Bill?
In addition to SNAP, the Farm Bill covers programs that assist with:

• Prices and income support for farmers who raise widely produced and traded non-perishable crops, such as corn, soybeans, wheat, and rice.
• Natural resource conservation efforts on working lands, as well as land retirement and easement.
• Federal loans
• Community and rural business
• Farm and food research, education, and extension for federal labs and state university-affiliated research groups
• Forest conservation
• Renewable energy systems
• Horticulture
• Crop insurance

What will this Farm Bill look like?

The Congressional Budget Office’s recently released May 2023 baselines for USDA Mandatory Farm Programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) confirming that the 2023 Farm Bill, upon enactment, could potentially be the first trillion-dollar Farm Bill in U.S. history.

Total outlays across SNAP and mandatory farm programs for fiscal years 2024 to 2033 are projected at $1.51 Trillion. Compared to the cost of the 2018 farm bill at enactment of $867 billion, the 2023 Farm Bill will represent a $640 billion or 74% increase in spending – primarily driven by increases in SNAP outlays.

What’s currently happening?

The House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill are currently being written by their respective agricultural committees. Though marker bills continue to be introduced, the initial phase of Farm Bill drafting is coming to a close. Once they finish writing their separate versions of the bill, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will debate, amend and vote on their drafts. Then, these drafts will be brought to each full chamber to be debated and amended.

 

The new 2023 Farm Bill holds immense potential for shaping the future of our agriculture industry.

As we eagerly anticipate its enactment, we must remain actively engaged, advocating for policies that prioritize innovation, environmental stewardship, and fair market conditions.

Additional Farm Bill Resources

The May 2023 Farm Bill Scoring Baseline

The 2023 Farm Bill: Part 1

The rundown of the process of passing the Farm Bill

 

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National Farmer’s Market Week 2023

National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration that takes place across the United States to honor and promote the importance of farmers markets in local communities. This week-long event typically occurs in early to mid-August and is a time to recognize the vital role that farmers markets play in supporting local farmers, connecting consumers with fresh, locally-grown produce, and fostering community engagement.

In the heart of Davis, California, lies a vibrant and cherished institution that has stood the test of time—the Davis Farmers Market. As we celebrate National Farmers Market Week, we delve into the fascinating history of this local gem. 

Definition of Farmers Markets

 The USDA defines it as: “a multi-stall market at which farmer-producers sell agricultural products directly to the general public at a central or fixed location, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables (but also meat products, dairy products, and/or grains).”

History of Farmers Markets

Farmers markets date all the way back to Egypt over 5,000 years ago. Farmers along the Nile came together to sell their fresh produce.

The first farmers market in the United States opened in 1634 in Boston, Massachusetts. Many markets began following: Hartford in 1643, New York City by 1686, and Philadelphia in 1693, to name a few.

During the 1700s, 1800s, and the first half or so of the 1900s, grocery stores gained in popularity; consequently, interest in farmers markets fell. During the late 1970s, a peach harvest surplus inspired lawmakers to allow farmers markets in California. 

The seeds of the Davis Farmers Market were sown in the late 1960s and early 1970s when five individuals—Martin Barnes, Jeff & Annie Main, Henry Esbenshade, and Ann Evans—found themselves united through friendship, political activism, and their studies at UC Davis. Under the mentorship of UC Davis rural sociologist Isao Fujimoto and his Alternatives in Agricultural Research Project, they developed a shared passion for sustainable agriculture and community-driven initiatives. In 1976, the trio of Henry Esbenshade, Martin Barnes, and Annie Main received approval from the Davis City Council to establish the Davis Farmers Market in Central Park.

Bolstered by the support of the Davis Food Co-op, which promised to buy any produce that farmers couldn’t sell, they embarked on a mission to connect local farmers directly with consumers.

Alongside the market’s growth, farmers and consumers began advocating for changes in State regulations that limited direct marketing of food. The efforts of individuals like Davis Farmers Market board member Les Portello contributed to the state Department of Food and Agriculture adopting regulations that created the nation’s first Certified Farmers’ Markets.

These new regulations enabled farmers to sell their products directly to consumers without strict size and packaging requirements, as long as they met minimum quality standards and operated in a market certified by the county agricultural commissioner.

This significant development further bolstered the Davis Farmers Market’s mission of supporting local farmers and promoting sustainable agriculture.

To this day, there are over 100 vendors at the Davis Farmers Market, where you can find fruits and vegetables, a variety of meats and seafood, nuts, wine, local eggs and honey, fresh-baked goods, plants, flowers and gifts. Today, the market serves between 7,000 and 10,000 people a week with more than 70 percent of the vendors coming from within a one-hour drive from farm to market.

The current schedule for the Davis Farmers Market:

Saturdays 8am-1pm, year-round, rain or shine!
Wednesdays 4-8pm for Picnic in the Park (mid-May through mid-September)
Wednesdays 3-6pm (mid-September through mid-May)

Good Humus

Today, along with their children, Annie and Jeff run Good Humus Produce, which can be found at the Market every Saturday.

Their eight and a half acre farm is made up of orchards, California native hedgerows, flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Beyond their produce they also make jams and jellies with their own fruits and herbs, floral arrangements and wreaths with their flowers, and they also make tons of dry fruit using the natural California sun.

You can find their products at the Davis Food Co-op & they also have their own Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook

Written by Ann Evans, this revised editon of the Davis Farmers Market Cookbook, which celebrates the Market’s 40th anniversary, focuses on the second generation of farmers and vendors. Ann Evans speaks of the importance of Farmers Markets, farmers, and the joys of cooking seasonally.

You can find this book available at the Co-op and online

As we commemorate National Farmers Market Week, let us recognize and celebrate the remarkable history of the Davis Farmers Market and the invaluable contributions it continues to make to the community.

Find more information about the Davis Farmers Market here

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The Lasting Impact of Cesar Chavez

Today is Cesar Chavez Day, a federally recognized holiday honoring a champion for social justice and advocate for the farmworkers who sustain our Nation.

Cesar Estrada Chavez (March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was a Mexican American labor leader and civil rights activist who dedicated his life’s work to what he called La Causa (the cause): the struggle of farmworkers in the United States to improve their working and living conditions through organizing and negotiating contracts with their employers. Committed to the tactics of nonviolent resistance practiced by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Chavez co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later becoming the United Farm Workers) and won important victories to raise pay and improve working conditions for farmworkers in the late 1960s and 1970s.

 

 

Most famously known for his strike against California’s grape growers*, Cesar Chavez asked Americans to boycott the popular fruit because of the meager pay and poor working conditions farmworkers were forced to endure. In 1970, after five years of the Delano grape strike, farmworkers won a contract promising better pay and benefits. A few years later, their efforts led to the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which established collective-bargaining power for farmworkers statewide.

 

 

 

 

*While Cesar Chavez continues to get credit for starting the strike, it was actually Larry Itliong, a Filipino-American organizer, who led a group of Filipino-American grape workers to first strike in September 1965.  (Larry Itliong is pictured in the bottom picture, in the center)

“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.”

-Cesar Chavez

Farmworkers are among the poorest workers in the United States. Hazardous conditions are routine and include pesticide exposure, heat stress, lack of shade, and inadequate drinking water. Not to mention the discrimination tactics and abuse they receive from their employers.

In order to feed the country, over two million farmworkers labor on farms across the United States. They handpick the vast majority of fruit and vegetable crops produced here making them the backbone of our $200 billion agricultural industry.

It is the great paradox of our food system: the very people who work to feed the U.S. struggle to feed their own families.

Fast forward to August 3rd, 2022 where a historical, 24-day long march began where Farmworkers and Farmworker advocates marched 335 miles, starting from Delano, California and ending at the Sacramento State Capitol; ⁠The same march Cesar Chavez did in 1966.

 

This march was to get the attention of Governor Gavin Newsom and convince him to sign AB 2183, the Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act. This bill would give Farmworkers the right to vote for a union, free from intimidation and threats, allowing them to vote in secret whenever and wherever they felt safe.⁠

With just two days to spare, Governor Newsom signed the Farmworker Bill AB 2183, on September 28th, 2022. ⁠

While there hasn’t been much of an update on the AB 2183 bill, as it just went into effect as of January 1st, 2023, below are some events that have taken place recently with farmworkers.

California Governor Recently Vetoed Farmworker Bill 

In December 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the California Farmworkers Drought Resilience Pilot Program, which would have offered farmworkers, many of whom have lost work hours due to the drought, $1,000 a month of supplemental pay from 2023 through 2026. And unlike all other social safety net programs, there would be no immigration status or eligibility requirements, meaning that undocumented farmworkers, who account for an estimated 50% of farmworkers, could receive funds.

New AEWR Wage Effect Final Rule protects Farmworkers

What is currently a very controversial topic amongst those in the agriculture industry, The Department of Labor recently amended it’s regulations governing the certification of agricultural labor or services to be performed by temporary foreign workers in H–2A nonimmigrant status. Specifically, the Department is revising the methodology by which it determines the hourly Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs) for non-range occupations (i.e., all occupations other than herding and production of livestock on the range). 

This rule follows the Trump Administration’s AEWR rule which was blocked by the UFW and UFW Foundation’s successful lawsuits against the Trump Administration. The Trump Administration’s proposal to reduce the AEWR would have threatened the jobs of countless domestic farmworkers and pushed those willing to accept the below-market wages even further into poverty. According to Farmworker Justice, blocking the Trump AEWR rule saved farmworkers an estimated $500 million in wages over the course of 2021 and 2022.

This newly amended rule goes into effect on March 30th, 2023.

California’s Late Winter Storm Events

California is responsible for producing 1/3 of the nation’s vegetables and nearly 2/3 of the nation’s fruits and nuts.

While this should be the busiest time for farmworkers, California has been receiving back-to-back rounds of Atmospheric Rivers(long, narrow bands of air that can carry water vapor for thousands of miles) since December 2022 (14 so far) that have decimated crops and flooded entire communities; severely reducing work opportunities for many of the state’s farmworkers, who lack social safety nets. One representative with the United Farm Workers estimated “workers have lost up to two months of income.”

47 counties are currently under a State of Emergency. In Monterey County alone, one of the largest produce producers in California, the most current report of agricultural losses is exceeding $450.5 million.

On top of dealing with loss of work, farmworkers are also dealing with the loss and/or severe damages to their homes and vehicles. An if there is work available for farmworkers, the weather means harvesting crops in more dangerous conditions. For Ventura farmworker Octavio Diaz, he recently injured his right leg trying to pull it out from deep, sticky mud. “I kept working after I hurt my leg because we sustain ourselves by working in the farms. We don’t have other sources of income. You have to work to be able to support your family.”

With devastating disasters like this, few have access to emergency relief or government assistance. Language barriers and immigration status being some of the biggest reasons.

California Governor, Gavin Newsom, visited Parajo on March 15th, after a levee burst on the Parajo River, flooding the entire community. He had promised relief, telling residents that “no other state does more for farmworkers.”  He stated that there would be an “immediate response” from Biden, and that FEMA aid would be coming to Pajaro as soon as his office put in a request for a major disaster declaration. It wasnt until March 28th that the governor’s office had finally submitted a request for that declaration.

“When the man who feeds the world by toiling in the fields is himself deprived of the basic rights of feeding, sheltering and caring for his own family, the whole community of man is sick.”- Cesar Chavez
Cesar may have passed away over 3 decades ago, but his legacy is still alive wherever farmworkers organize and stand up nonviolently for their rights.
We can continue to honor Cesar Chavez’s work by taking the following actions:

1. Educate yourself and others: Learn about the issues that farmworkers face and educate others about their struggles. This can include reading books, sharing articles, documentaries, and other resources on social media, and engaging in conversations with friends and family.

2. Support fair labor practices: Support fair labor practices by buying products from businesses(like the Co-op!) that support fair labor standards and treat their workers with respect and dignity. This includes supporting unionization efforts and advocating for policies that protect workers’ rights.

3. Volunteer: Volunteer with organizations that support farmworkers’ rights and work to improve their working conditions. These organizations provide a range of services, including legal aid, advocacy, and support for workers’ families.

4. Advocate for policy change: Advocate for policy change at the local, state, and national levels that supports farmworkers’ rights and improves their working conditions. This includes supporting legislation that protects workers from exploitation and ensures fair wages and safe working conditions.

5. Support farmworker-led organizations: Support farmworker-led organizations that are working to improve the lives of farmworkers and advocate for their rights.

For more information on Farmworkers and ways to support them, click here.

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The 2023 Farm Bill- Agovacy at its finest!

Resigned and reauthorized every five years, the largest piece of food-related legislation is up next year, the Farm Bill. This bill determines policy and funding levels for agriculture, food assistance programs, natural resources, and other aspects of food and agriculture under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Its impact on the farming industry, its related programs and industries, and the communities they support is tremendous.

The original Farm Bill was enacted during the 1930s as part of the New Deal and had three main goals:

  • Keep food prices fair for farmers and consumers.
  • Ensure an adequate food supply.
  • Protect and sustain the country’s vital natural resources.

While each new Farm Bill is unique, and 18 bills have followed the initial one, the issues addressed in the last 2018 Farm Bill encompassed agricultural commodities, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, research, extension and related matters, forestry, energy, horticulture, crop insurance and miscellaneous. To the left is a chart of the $428 million dollars that went towards farm and program support in the last bill.

Discussions on what is due to be the 2023 Farm Bill have already begun at field hearings and producer meetings across the country, where stakeholders have been vocalizing their recommendations and priorities for the next Farm Bill:

The current baseline for Farm Bill programs for the next five years is $648 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s May 2022 estimates. A new estimate in spring 2023 will set the budget for the new Farm Bill.

Here is a quick rundown of what the process of passing the Farm Bill looks like:
  1. HEARINGS

Legislatively, it all begins with hearings in Washington, DC and across the country – these are listening sessions where members of Congress take input from the public and organizations about what they want to see in a new bill.

  1. AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEES

House and Senate Agriculture Committees each draft, debate, amend and change, and eventually pass a bill; the two committees work on separate bills that can have substantial differences.

  1. FULL CONGRESS / “THE FLOOR”

Each committee bill goes next to “the floor” – the full House of Representatives or Senate. Each bill is debated, amended, and voted on again by its respective body (House or Senate).

  1. CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

After both the full House and Senate have passed a Farm Bill – which can take a while, and may require a bill being sent back to committee for more work before passage, the two bills (House and Senate) go to a smaller group of Senators and Representatives called a “Conference Committee,” which combines the two separate bills into one compromise package. Conferees are typically chosen mostly from House and Senate Agriculture Committee members.

  1. FULL CONGRESS

The combined version of the Conference Committee’s Farm Bill then goes back to the House and Senate floors to be debated – and potentially passed.

  1. LAST STEP: THE WHITE HOUSE

Once the House and Senate approve a final Farm Bill, the bill goes to the President, who can veto it and send it back to Congress or sign it into law.

Once the Farm Bill is signed into law, it’s time for the Appropriations phase: Setting money aside in the yearly federal budget to fund the programs in the Farm Bill, which the federal government operates on a fiscal year from October 1st to September 30th.

 Happening simultaneously with the annual appropriations process is Rulemaking. After Congress passes a Farm Bill, the USDA is responsible for writing the actual rules for how these programs will be implemented on the ground. 

The recent pass of the Inflation Reduction Act will play a major role in the Farm Bill

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown says the Inflation Reduction Act should help jumpstart the 2023 Farm Bill process.

“When we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, we funded some farm programs ahead of time, something we’ve never done,” he says. “So, this Farm Bill should be more productive and more helpful both to consumers and farmers because we planned for it better than we have in the past.”

According to an analysis from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Inflation Reduction Act will provide about a 47% increase over previous Farm Bill levels.

And with the Biden Administration making Climate Change a federal priority, it is likely that the new Farm Bill will reflect such efforts.

 

No exception to previous years, the final draft of the bill will impact every American in a way that so few others do and will require immense collaboration and compromise on both sides of the aisle — and the final product will impact the food and beverage ecosystem for generations to come.

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Recognizing and Appreciating Farmworkers in the Field

The Davis Food Co-op would like to recognize and appreciate all of the Farmworkers at Local Farms and beyond for the valuable role that they play in maintaining our food system and making the items that can be found at the Co-op so easily accessible. Through a pandemic, heat wave, wildfires and more, they are still out there working hard every day so that we can all have food on our tables. It is incumbent upon us all to show gratitude for the people that make every meal of ours possible throughout the entire year by recognizing the challenges that they face and advocating for protections for these workers

Blogs

Issues Farmworkers Face

Modern accessibility to food combined with a fast pace lifestyle can make it easy to overlook the importance of what is happening behind the scenes of the services we utilize on a daily basis. For many of us, we throw away our trash without any thought of the garbage collector that wakes up before the sun to take it away for us, we wear clothing without consideration for the person whose hands stitched it all together and all too often, we purchase and consume our food with no appreciation for the farmworker who picked that food for us, even in the harshest of conditions. Farmworkers keep the entire world fed by working in sometimes dangerous conditions, and yet they are often not protected by the same laws that protect other workers.

Often, the first step towards positive change is through acknowledgement of the issues at hand. We believe that pushing for this positive change is the best way that we can truly show appreciation for our farmworkers. The most recent data that we have on farmworkers in the U.S. comes from a 2015-16 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers (NAW) Survey. Among many findings, the NAW reported that:

  • There are an estimated 2.4 million farmworkers laboring on our nation’s farms and ranches, cultivating and harvesting crops and raising and tending to livestock.
  • The farm labor workforce is a predominantly immigrant workforce. According to the NAWS, approximately 75% of farmworkers are immigrants. Approximately 49% of farmworkers are immigrants who lack work authorization.
  • Due to the seasonal nature of the work on many crop farms, the large majority of crop workers do not work year round, even if they work for more than one farm in a single year. Farmworkers averaged 33 weeks of farm work over the course of a year and worked an average of 45 hours per week.
  • 57% of farmworkers are married, and 55% of farmworkers have children
  • Farmworkers averaged $10.60 per hour in wages. The average annual individual income of farmworkers was in the range of $17,500 – $19,999.
  • 33% of farmworker families had incomes below the poverty line. However, because the survey results did not include dependents living outside of the United States, this number may not completely reflect the full number of families living in poverty.
  • Despite the high level of poverty, most farmworkers do not receive any public benefits. At the time of this study, only 18% of farmworkers received food stamps, 17% received WIC (a supplemental nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) and 43% received health insurance through a government program, like Medicaid.
  • Most farmworkers (53%) have no health insurance, and limited access to health care, making them particularly vulnerable to environmental and occupational health hazards. It was found that 71% of workers reported that their employer did not provide health insurance or pay for medical treatment for injuries or illnesses suffered outside of work. Only 18% of employers offer health insurance to their workers.

 

Organizations to Support

There are many great organizations that are actively advocating for farmworkers, both locally and nationally. We encourage you to check them out to learn more about the work that they are doing and how you can get involved and let us know of any other organizations we may have missed by emailing [email protected].

California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF): www.crlaf.org/

“CRLAF is a statewide non-profit civil legal aid organization providing free legal services and policy advocacy for California’s rural poor. We focus on some of the most marginalized communities: the unrepresented, the unorganized and the undocumented.  We engage in community education and outreach, impact litigation, legislative and administrative advocacy, and public policy leadership at the state and local level. We seek to bring about social justice to rural poor communities by working to address the most pressing needs of our community: Labor, Housing, Education Equity, Health Care Access, Worker Safety, Citizenship, Immigration, and Environmental Justice.”

 

Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF): www.caff.org

“Founded in 1978, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and The Farmers Guild is a California-based nonprofit that builds sustainable food and farming systems through local and statewide policy advocacy and on-the-ground programs in an effort to initiate institutionalized change. Our programs address current problems and challenges in food and farming systems, creating more resilient family farms, communities and ecosystems. We work to support family farmers and serve community members throughout the state, including consumers, food service directors, schoolchildren and low-income populations with the aim of growing a more resilient, just and abundant food system for all Californians.”

The National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH): www.ncfh.org/

“The National Center for Farmworker Health is a private, not-for-profit corporation located in Buda, Texas dedicated to improving the health status of farmworker families.  We provide information services, training and technical assistance, and a variety of products to community and migrant health centers nationwide, as well as organizations, universities, researchers and individuals involved in farmworker health.”

Farmworker Justice: farmworkerjustice.org/
“Farmworker Justice is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower migrant and seasonal farmworkers to improve their living and working conditions, immigration status, health, occupational safety, and access to justice. We work with farmworkers and their organizations throughout the nation. Based in Washington, D.C., Farmworker Justice was founded in 1981. In 1996, Farmworker Justice became a subsidiary corporation of UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza), the nation’s largest constituency-based Hispanic civil rights organization.”

United Farm Workers: ufw.org
“The UFW continues organizing in major agricultural sectors, chiefly in California. Recent years have witnessed dozens of UFW union contract victories protecting thousands of farm workers, among them agreements with the some of the largest berry, winery, tomato, dairy and mushroom companies in California and the nation. More than 75 percent of California’s fresh mushroom industry is now under union contract. Many recent UFW-sponsored laws and regulations protect all farm workers in California, especially those at non-union ranches. They include the first state standards in the U.S. to prevent further deaths and illnesses from extreme heat and in 2016 the first law in the country providing farm workers in California with overtime pay after eight hours a day. The UFW continues to actively champion legislative and regulatory reforms for farm workers covering issues such as worker protections, pesticides and immigration reform.”

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Elderberries: The New Face of California Hedgerows

The practice of growing hedgerows stems from all the way back to the Medieval times of England and Ireland.

Hedgerows can increase the beauty, productivity, and biodiversity of a property and are especially beneficial for farms.

Modern day hedgerows are used as a field border to enhance the habitat value and productivity of farmland.

To date, the creation of hedgerows and other restored habitat areas on California farms remains low.

This is in part because of a lack of information and outreach that addresses the benefits of field edge habitat, and growers’ concerns about its effect on crop production and wildlife intrusion.

Native hedgerows on farm edges benefit wildlife, pest control, carbon storage and runoff, but hedgerow planting by farmers in California is limited, often due to establishment and maintenance costs.

Field studies in the Sacramento Valley highlighted that hedgerows can enhance pest control and pollination in crops, resulting in a return on investment within 7 to 16 years, without negatively impacting food safety.

What if hedgerows could provide a source of farm income, to offset costs AND benefit the local environment?

Currently the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) is collaborating with Cloverleaf Farm in Solano County and several other growers in the Central Valley and coastal counties to assess and develop the potential for elderberries to become a commercial specialty crop, with a focus on hedgerow-grown elderberry production and marketing for small- and mid-scale California farms.

UC Agriculture and Environment Academic Coordinator, Sonja Brodt believes that elderberries may be the intersection of sustainable farming, super nutrition, and economic viability.

At the 2019 Elderberry Field Day Sonja explained, “Elderberries may have the potential to combine crop production with environmental conservation functions in a way not typically seen on California farms. This model would enable small- and medium-scale farmers to receive a direct income from a farm practice that benefits the ecosystem as well.”

Farms like Cloverleaf use elder trees as hedgerows on their fields to increase habitat value and crop pollination while also making a profit on the side by selling elderberry products, such as jams, syrups, and flower cordials.

Additionally, with growing consumer interest in health foods, elderberry product sales nationwide have jumped 10-50% in recent years but almost no commercial supply originates in California.

The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system.

According to recent research, elderberries can help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and even help protect your heart!

There are about 30 types of elder plants and trees found around the world.

The European version (also known as Sambucus nigra) is the one most often used in health supplements, however, recent attention has been drawn to the California elderberry (Sambucus caerulea).

Cloverleaf Farm has been an active partner with SAREP by monitoring the success level of elderberries planted and comparing results between the California elderberry and the European elderberry.

So far their findings show that California elderberries have a greater success rate when grown in Mediterranean climates compared to the European elderberry and attract more native pollinators, which benefits the crop yields.

In addition the UC Davis Food Science and Technology department is currently working on a elderberry project, led by Katie Uhl, focusing on the bioactive components unique to California elderberries that can be beneficial for human health.

While a diversity of plant species makes for the most effective hedgerows, the California elderberry is proving itself to be a perfect foundation species as it provides excellent environmental habitat and great potential for profits by selling the berries as health food products!

You can find Cloverleaf Farm elderberry syrups here at the Davis Food Co-op, along with many other elderberry products in our Wellness department!

Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist

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A Conversation On Biodynamic Wine With Martin Pohl From Beaver Creek Vineyards

We recently had the chance to speak with Martin Pohl from Beaver Creek Vineyards about why biodynamic wine is more than just the latest trend in the wine industry. Beaver Creek Vineyards is located in Lake County, California, and produces biodynamic wines. Martin Pohl is the owner and winemaker of Beaver Creek, and his overriding philosophy is to work with nature, not against it.

About 50 sheep roam amongst the vineyard’s rows, a flock which Pohl herds himself. He views himself as a steward of the land on which his vineyard rests. He has faced various challenges in protecting it, “There have been many hits, Lake County suffers from droughts, there was the fire in 2015.”

Despite these setbacks, he still sees his plot of land as nearly perfect. “It’s a perfect place because it’s dry, so there’s barely any pest problems.” Other regions, such as those on the coast, face greater pest problems because of the humidity. “They almost have to use pesticides,” Pohl said. “Here it’s so ideal, I don’t have to spray for mildew, we don’t use any chemicals, it’s completely clean.”

His philosophy of non-interference extends from the vineyard to the wine barrels as well. “None of our wines have any sulfites added,” Pohl said. This is important to Pohl because he views natural wines as a living system. “Think of it kind of like the human immune system,” Pohl said. “When you add sulfites you compromise that system. They might prolong the shelf life of wine but they shorten its lifespan”

He has hopes for expansion sometime in the near future. He split with his partners in 2012 and will soon be the sole owner of the vineyard.

How did you become so interested in organics and biodynamics?

“It starts with a lifestyle, right? For the last 10 or 15 years, I always feel like I’ve been ahead of the curve. I started my organic lifestyle around 20 years ago. And as a result, I wanted to drink clean wine. And why would you put chemicals and additives in wine if you don’t have to? So I figured out how to make it without it. “

“The whites and roses are a little more complicated to make a natural way, they’re a little fragile. But the reds are easy because they have the skins on.”

“The yeast shapes the wine similar to the way that the weather patterns do throughout the year

“The byproduct of the natural yeast fermentation is sulfur!” The excitement in Pohl’s voice was tangible over this fact. “You can actually smell sulfur during the fermentation.”

I’m curious, were you a winemaker first or someone who was concerned about the environment?

Beaver Creek Vineyards during the 2015 Valley Fire

“Well there’s all things together, you want to do good things, you want to drink healthy wines, you want to help the planet.”

“I was an immigrant here, I was in San Francisco for 5 years working as a waiter. But that actually helped me learn about wine. Two friends and I then had the idea to start a winery.” “We had no prior experience in winemaking, so we learned from scratch.”

“What inspired me was actually my mother, she sent me this book about biodynamic wines which made it clear to me from the beginning that we should make healthy wines in order to help the planet and ourselves.”

What are some of the things that you do to protect your land?

“We don’t till our soil anymore. We have one field that we haven’t tilled since 2012, and the other one we stopped tilling three years ago.”

“We don’t own the land so we’re kind of limited in what we can do. We develop our own compost, and this is the only substance that we use for fertilization.” This is standard for biodynamic wines.

“We irrigate some because it is so hot here in Lake County,” Pohl said. “We used to be a dry farm actually until 2014, and then it was a disaster between gophers, the fire, and the drought.” If you don’t already know, gophers happen to be the bane of a winemaker’s existence. They feast on the roots of vines and sometimes can take plants underground.

“You would probably be surprised with organic grapes how many different additives you are allowed to add.” But with Biodynamic wine grapes, the regulations are quite strict, only natural methods may be used.

Written by Rachel Heleva, Marketing Specialist

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