Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Transitions and Positions


We are happy to announce that this semester we recovered a grand total of

7,324.4 pounds!

For the first time, we will be operating for the summer months and recovering from the Ratty, the Blue Room, events on campus and Blue State Coffee and have almost 40 volunteers signed up to participate!



We are also fielding applications for three Leadership Team positions starting Fall 2014. Each of the applications includes a description and breakdown of the position's responsibilities and necessary qualifications. Please contact frnatbrown@gmail.com with any questions or for more information!



Saturday, April 5, 2014

Meet our new Community Outreach Coordinator - Kearney M!

FRN @Brown is proud to announce its newest LT member and future Community Outreach Coordinator-

Kearney M



Here's a little more about her!

Class: 2017

Spirit vegetable: turnip

From: Bucks County, Pennsylvania 

Possible concentrations: Public Health

Favorite activities: cooking, being in new places, swimming, sailing on colonial re-enactment ships

What are you looking forward to gaining from the COC position?
Working with and learning from some of the really interesting, hard-working, inspiring community members of Providence who are easy for me to miss when I spend too much time up on college hill

What inspires you to do good?
Watching people who create goodness in unique and creative and brilliant ways.

What are some things you've been thinking about lately?

 The merits of interning in New York City versus the merits of waitressing in Provincetown, MA, when spring weather will stay spring weather, how much time I spend on PerezHilton.com, whether the experience of running downtown is worth the run back up.

And regarding FRN's work - US food subsidies, how to change US food subsidies, the cultivation of food cultures and how to shift the US’s, urban agriculture, how to guard against elitism in the food justice movement, how food recovery intersects with health and nutrition

What has been your most rewarding experience regarding food access, justice, production, waste, etc?
Laying a trail of eggs in a giant chicken costume at a Rolling Harvest gleaning event in Pennsylvania last year. 


What questions do you have for Kearney? -- e-mail frnatbrown@gmail.com!

Event Review: "Healthy Farms = Healthy People"

Food and Water Watch "Healthy Farms, Healthy Families Town Hall Forum" on April 3rd at the First Unitarian Church of Providence

Healthy Farms = Healthy People
by Charlotte Hacke



Let's say you're sick. You've got bronchitis. So you go to the doctor, s/he gives you a small dose antibiotics, and there ya go, problem solved. Until next time comes around. You've got bronchitis again. You get some antibiotics again, etc.
You find yourself having to go again. And the doctor gives you just a little bit again. Slowly, your body builds immunity to these antibiotics. What to do now?

These small doses spread out over a period of time are called "subtherapeutic" doses, and they are a fraction of the amounts most often used to treat an infection. Knowing that organisms build up resistance to the antibiotic through this method though seems like we would avoid it, right? Wrong. It's a current (very common) practice in factory farming. In fact, 80% of all antibiotics in the US are for the sole use of factory farming. And there are no regulations to encourage this number to go down; farmers can just purchase as many antibiotics online or in a farm supply store as they want. 

These farmers aren't just evil, stupid people drugging their animals with small amounts of antibiotics for fun, though. There is actually a reason for it: let's say you have 1,000 chickens in a feeding house, and one gets sick because of poor air quality (poor lil chicks are prone to respiratory problems). As a farmer or non-existent veterinarian on-site, you're not going to waste you time listening to the heartbeat of every chicken, finding out which one is the root cause of the now-spreading illness. No, that'd be a waste of time and money. So, you put just a lil' bit of some antibiotics in the feed, to avoid/treat that infection, and yet not harm any of the healthy chickens. Makes sense. 

But it's catching up with us. Not only are animals then becoming more resistant to medications, humans are too. If we don't act now, we won't be able to treat simple infections that could be cured with one full dose of antibiotics; instead we will, most simply put, die. As I write that, it seems almost comical, but many babies born prematurely are saved at birth because of antibiotics, for instance, and if we keep eating antibiotics in our food, our immunity will quite literally kill our babies. 

I asked the panelists if we should then be focusing on creating environments where animals don't find themselves threatened by illness looming in the air, because of close and crammed quarters. Well, yes, they said. And there are some people doing this; for example, groups of people are incentivizing farmers to raise chickens in open areas, without the use of constant antibiotics, by proposing bigger bucks for a better business/quality product. That's just one example. 

Another way this issue is being tackled is through policy. "This spring, Providence became one of the first cities in the country to pass a resolution calling for a ban on factory farm abuse of antibiotics!" YEAH PROVIDENCE! However, federal action is much needed in this "public health issue." To motivate more discussion on the topic, there was a panel held last night (April 3, 2014) by Food & Water Watch RI.

It was a whopping success! About fifty people (community members, students, farmers, etc.) showed up to hear more. Panelists included: Dr. Louis Rice, Chair, Brown University Department of Medicine; Dr. Leonard Mermel, Medical Director, Dept. of Epidemiology & Infection Control, Rhode Island Hospital; Pat McNiff, Farmer, owner of Pat's Pastured free range farms; Rachel McNally, PEW Research "Supermom against Superbugs", as well as a representative from Senator Whitehouse, sending his support. 

Further action needs to be taken and we have the power to say no through grassroots movement. Email Gus Fuguitt with Food & Water Watch at gfuguitt@fwwlocal.org if you want to get more involved! (There's an activist 
training on April 10th, so get on it soon!)

Monday, March 24, 2014

What I've Gleaned From Gleaning


(A belated but still relevant meditation on our gleaning trip last fall at Pippin Orchards).
By Michelle Zheng, Special Events Coordinator 

“I went on a gleaning trip this weekend!”

“What? What did you clean?”

“No, gleaning, with a G.”

Most haven't gleaned more than information from a book, but gleaning has another definition that's important to know about. It's also the act of gathering surplus crops that would otherwise go to waste from fields when farms don't have the resources or time to harvest everything they've grown. A practice with biblical origins, farmers would leave excess produce in their fields as a form of charity, so that strangers and the poor could gather the food. Nowadays, it's practiced by humanitarian groups, but the principle is still the same: redistribute excess food to those in need. And what FRN does on college campuses can be considered gleaning in a more modern context: the dining halls are now the fields, and leftover food the crops.

But this doesn't mean that we can't practicing gleaning as it's traditionally defined as well.

Here at Brown, we decided to try gleaning for ourselves. After contacting a few farms, we got a response from Pippin Orchard, a local farm located just half an hour away from campus that graciously welcomed us to come and pick as we liked at the end of their season.

So on a sunny Saturday in November, we drove over as a group of nine to see what we could recover. With us were both FRNds from campus and from the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project (RIHAP). After we were greeted by Farmer Joe, who came out to greet us with oven mitts still on both hands (the smell of Thanksgiving pie wafting from behind him hinted at why), we headed out to the orchard to pick apples – buckets, crates and bags in hand.

The trees were so laden with apples in the area we were picking from that dozens of apples would literally fall off a tree if you gave it a nice shake. It was clear that we could've recovered several times as many apples were it not for transportation difficulties – we ran out of containers, and only had a truck and a car to load our harvest on. After hardly more than an hour, we had already filled every single one of our containers to the brim with apples as fresh as they come. And if that wasn't enough, the icing on our already robust gleaning cake, so to speak, was already-harvested pumpkins that Pippin had just sitting around, unused after Halloween. We then toasted our success with some apple cider and snacks, chatting about everything from how classes were going for us students to the experiences of our friends from RIHAP.

After weighing everything back on campus, we arrived at our grand total: 703 pounds of tasty, tasty produce. 703 pounds from just one morning of gleaning, and potentially so much more had we been more prepared with transportation. Definitely not the worst way to have spent a Saturday morning.

Gleaning has been on our minds since then. We're hoping to organize even more gleaning trips next fall, and take advantage of the huge potential sitting out there in the farms around us. Not only is the potential for recovery huge, but the potential to make local connections as well: by gleaning, we can support local agriculture both by helping farmers reduce their waste and allowing them to make tax deductions for the gleaned produce. It's a vote for sustainable local food systems.

Legality is an issue when it comes to organizing gleaning events, but our good old friend the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act takes care of liability associated with gleaned food, save instances of gross negligence or intentional misconduct. And volunteers can sign liability waivers that prevent growers from legal responsibility in the case that volunteers injure themselves while participating.

Now that I've had this experience, I'd love to see other chapters organize gleaning trips as well. It's as easy as contacting farmers, figuring out a few logistics, and then going out to the fields. And if gleaning from farms isn't geographically feasible, there's also urban gleaning, where gleaners collect produce from backyards and public spaces. Both are great ways to translate a hunger for action into the freshest kind of food possible for those who need it. So onwards, my FRNds – get out there and get gleaning!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pay-by-the-minute Cafes

Last weekend, the spring semester team got together for our second ever orientation session. The majority of the meeting was spent discussing a great NY Times article addressing the issue of people going fast food restaurants, namely McDonald's, and staying there for hours at a time with a newspaper or others for company. Many franchises are now imposing limits on the amount of time any one customer can stay- one location set a 20 minute limit! In our Food Group discussions we covered issues of the right to space and the right to refuse service, the socioeconomic situation of those staying at the fast food chains as well as those working there.

What if the time you spend at a cafe did not matter because you pay by the minute?

A self-described "social experiment", Ziferblat is a chain of cafes in Russia that charge a rate per minute to be in the cafe where "everything is free".





The cafes are intended to be collaborative spaces for free expression. Services include access to a full kitchen, complimentary snacks and drinks and even a piano. Additionally, there is no minimum time limit so visitors can wander about, timer in pocket, as long as they are willing to pay.
In the past two years Ziferblat has opened 10 locations in Russia but is now expanding and has opened their first international franchise in London where the going rate is 3 pence per minute (cool interior photos can be found on their site).

How does this model work out in Western settings? Why has this not been explored before? What does this mean for the monetization of space? Is there equal access for all?

Please post any thoughts or responses below!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Apply to be our new Community Outreach Coordinator or the Director of Engaged Scholarship!

We have an exciting opportunity for any interested representatives or supervisors, past or present-


We are looking for a new Campus Outreach Coordinator to join our Leadership Team and start this Spring!
In addition, we have created a new position titled the Director of Engaged Scholarship.

Please see the linked descriptions and fill out the brief applications. There will be interviews for all candidates.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Welcome back, FRNds!

Hi y'all!
We hope you had a great break and have been staying warm.

***

The FRN Leadership Team has already begun planning some exciting changes for representatives, supervisors and the LT alike for the coming semester.
We are currently taking applications for new representatives. If you have friends who have expressed interest in FRN you can send them the link to our application for spring 2014. The deadline is January 30th at 11:59 pm. You must be available Sunday, February 2nd from 12-1:30 for an orientation session.

Are you interested in working closely with our community partners, like McAuley House, and attending community meetings and workshops on issues of homelessness and food insecurity?
We are also looking for a new community outreach coordinator. Please e-mail us at frnatbrown@gmail.com for more information.