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Category: politics

'Food and Food Systems in the 21st Century' at UCLA's Fowler Museum

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On Aug. 11, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., TedxLA Miracle Mile presents "Food and Food Systems in the 21st Century" at UCLA's Fowler Museum.

Spawned from the nonprofit organization TED, TEDx is a program of independently organized events that bring together people from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design (hence the name TED) to engage in the sharing and spreading of ideas. Next month's TEDx gathering at the Fowler will examine food and food production on a local and globalized scale. Speakers will address what is obsolete and what is up to par -- politically, socially, economically and culturally -- in the context of today's rapidly growing human population.

The event will be a merging of minds with guest speakers such as Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno of Future Cities Lab and Jonathan Todd of John Todd Ecological Design. Also joining in on the discussion of food will be Tara Kolla of Silver Lake Farms, Ken and Kathy Lindner of Lindner Bison, Laura Avery of Santa Monica Farmers Market and "Righteous Porkchop" author Nicolette Hahn Niman, among others.

The daylong event includes a pre-event mixer with access to the museum, a catered box lunch by Auntie Em's Kitchen and a post-event wine and cheese reception. Tickets are $60 for general admission or $48 for students, seniors and Fowler Museum members.

308 Charles E. Young Drive North, L.A., (310) 825-4361, fowler.ucla.edu.


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-- Caitlin Keller

Photos: From left, Tara Kolla, Ken and Kathy Lindner, Laura Avery.

Credit: Tedxaltavistala.com

Bill Clinton: foreign (and domestic) restaurant kingmaker

The New York Times ran a lengthy article Monday on what it dubbed as former President Clinton's role as "foreign restaurant annointer in chief." Apparently once Clinton, who is now vegan for health reasons, eats at a restaurant, particularly one that is overseas, it receives crowds and attention in perpetuity.

As an example, the article cites a restaurant in Berlin, called Gugelhof, that hosted Clinton and then-Chancellor Gerhard Shroder in 2000. Gugelhoff still regularly receives guests from all over the world who cite the fact that Clinton ate at the restaurant (he had sauerkraut, beef, pork and potatoes) as the reason for their visit.

Another restaurant called Bukhara in New Delhi now serves a nightly special called the Bill Clinton Platter (mixed meats, lentils and oven-baked bread) because so many people routinely ask to have "what the president had" when they sit down at a table. Clinton ate at Bukhara in 2000 as well, and the restaurant says it has never publicized the fact that he ate there, that people just seem to know.

The rest of the article tries to explain why his presence at a restaurant matters so much to people and concludes that he is simply thought of as a guy with great connections and good taste in food, although a spokesman for Clinton says that the former president doesn't really give that much thought to where he eats. People just tell him where to go.

The Bill Clinton effect seems to work in the United States as well. The article doesn't talk about this, but in my hometown of Tucson, there is a small Mexican restaurant in South Tucson called Mi Nidito. Clinton ate there in 1999 and that place, which was popular to begin with, has been extra packed ever since.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: President Clinton joins former California Gov. Gray Davis, right, at a Mexican restaurant on Olvera Street in Los Angeles in 2003.

Credit: Alex Koester / For The Times

Food Forward picks up grant to pick more fruit

ForwardFood Forward, the organization that harvests fruit trees all over Los Angeles and gives the produce to food banks, was awarded a $25,000 grant to move forward itself. Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund-Los Angeles awarded the grant last week.

Rick Nahmias founded Food Forward 10 months ago and has an e-mail list of volunteers with more than 700 names. The group has picked nearly 65,000 pounds of fruit for food banks to distribute, he said Monday at a forum on hunger.

Nahmias says there are thousands of trees all over the county that need harvesting -- from a few trees in a backyard to former orchards. While citrus season is upon us, he says, Southern California has something to harvest all year long.

Food Forward has had five "picks," as it calls them, in November. Two are planned so far for December. For information call 818-530-4125.


-- Mary MacVean


Crooner and restaurateur Andy Williams talks about what Alpo tastes like

Williams When the late Ronald Reagan was president, he proclaimed that singer Andy Williams was a “national treasure.” That's a strong a description, but Williams certainly has been treasured by audiences around the world for more than 60 years, first as member of the Williams Brothers quartet and then as a solo act.

Williams, now 81, has recorded 18 gold and three platinum certified albums. Among his memorable hits are “Canadian Sunset,” “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses." The Iowa native also hosted a musical-variety series on NBC from 1962-71 and has been a staple at the Branson, Missouri resort since 1991 when he opened his Moon River Theatre. Two years ago, he opened the Moon River Grill adjacent to the theater. Williams recently published his autobiography, “Moon River and Me”, and Sony Music has also released the CD “Moon River: The Very Best of Andy Williams.”

But that is not the only reason Williams has been in the news of late.

Despite his strong friendship with the late Bobby Kennedy, Williams is a longtime Republican who accused President Obama last month in the Daily Telegraph in England of “following Marxist theory” and “wanting the country to fail.” But on a recent afternoon, Williams was more in the mood to talk about the comfort food found at his restaurant than politics.

Q: In your memoir you say that you ended up eating dog food when you first went solo in the 1950s because your career was struggling.

Continue reading »

Ceviche shows off seafood at science center


Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken made ceviche Tuesday morning for a gathering at the California Science Center in Exposition Park to mark the release of a report on the state of the oceans from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The aquarium also issued a list of "Super Green" seafood choices -- those that are healthy for people and the planet.

Feniger and Milliken are among about two dozen chefs from around the country who pledged to serve only sustainable seafood in their restaurants and to recruit colleagues to the cause. Milliken says they sometimes consult with the aquarium to make sure the choices are sustainable.

The following recipe, provided by chefs, was not tested in The Times test kitchen.

Continue reading »

Federal panel calls for more produce, whole grains in school meals


More than 30 million children eat school lunches every day, and 10 million eat school breakfasts. If those children learn healthy eating habits at school and take those with them into adulthood, that could have some effect on the health of the nation, including the obesity that is plaguing so many people.

So says an Institute of Medicine panel in a report out today that recommends several changes to the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For one thing, and this won't surprise anyone, more fruits and vegetables and whole grains would help, the committee says.

L.A. Unified has taken some steps already, serving brown rice and increasing spending on produce, from $3 million in 2006-07 to $12 million in 2007-08, says David Binkle, deputy food service director.

The chairwoman of the Institute of Medicine panel, Virginia Stallings, in her preface to the report, notes that in her childhood, school meals were meant to guard against undernourishment and iron deficiencies. But today, she notes, overweight children outnumber undernourished children.

-- Mary MacVean

(Photo: School lunch in L.A. by Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Government researchers want to peek in grocery carts


The government wants to know how you decide what to put in your grocery cart.

The idea, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, is to help families get healthier.

"This ambitious five-year effort will fill in critical gaps in existing data on the food purchases of U.S. households and be invaluable in assessing and enhancing the effectiveness of USDA's food assistance programs for low-income families," Vilsack says.

He announced on Thursday that Princeton-based Mathematica Policy Research will conduct the survey, which will be called the National Household Food Purchase and Acquisition Study.

The information will be used to help researchers figure out how food assistance programs affect the decisions people make about buying food.

"For the first time, researchers will have data that captures key factors like food prices, where food is purchased, dietary knowledge and the interplay of food assistance programs and food choices," says Rajiv Shah, under-secretary for research, education and economics at USDA.

About 1 in 5 Americans participates in at least one of USDA's food assistance programs in a given year.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Fresh produce going to WIC recipients


There is rejoicing today at agencies that work with recipients of food vouchers through the Women, Infants and Children program. Read more here.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo by Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

City to consider making use of leftovers


At the end of events at the Convention Center or other city venues, plenty of food gets tossed. L.A. Councilman José Huizar would like to change that. He filed a motion today to try to get some of those leftovers to food pantries.

"With this difficult economy, while there is a greater need, the donations have actually declined a bit," Huizar said.
He said 30% of L.A. County families have trouble getting enough good food. "If we don't support these families now, it costs more in the long run," he said in a telephone interview.

How this would happen hasn't been determined yet, because, as Huizar says, money is tight for government programs too. But he says getting edible leftovers to the people who need it is part of an effort toward a more comprehensive city food policy.

His motion goes now to a committee, and could come before the full council in less than month, he said.

State Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) has been trying to get leftovers to food banks on a state level.

Her measure, SB35, failed to get enough support this session, but a spokesman says she will try again in December or January with a bill to create a database of food banks and delivery services that can connect donors and recipients.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo by Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Michelle Obama brings home the kale, eggs, peppers and more from farmers market


I don't know many people who go to farmers markets if what they crave is a celebrity spotting. Unless the celebrity is a chef, or the market is in Hollywood.

But at the market near the White House, shoppers got to see Michelle Obama on Thursday, the market's opening day. A major figure and fresh tomatoes. Not bad.

According to a pool press report, several hundred people gathered at the market, which is run by FreshFarm Markets. Co-director Ann Yonkers said 18 farmers and producers would sell products at the newest outpost, at a corner of Lafayette Park.

Obama has been promoting healthy eating, in public statements and with a garden at the White House, where a group of elementary school students have worked.

According to the pool report, Obama was greeted by wild cheers when she said,"I have to say, I have never seen so many people so excited about fruits and vegetables. This is a very, very good thing, and it's raining outside and everybody's pumped up."

Obama also did some shopping -- black kale, eggs, cherry tomatoes, peppers, pears, fingerling potatoes, cheese and chocolate milk, according to the White House.

Other speakers included U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who noted that there are more than 4,700 farmers markets in the country, and Washington Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

The new FreshFarm Markets will be open Thursdays through October, from 3 to 7 p.m. The nonprofit organization operates eight other markets in Washington and Maryland.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: First Lady Michelle Obama at the farmers market near the White House. Credit: Associated Press


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