“Y&H isn’t quite sure how he missed this, but former Washington Post reporter Ed Bruske recently spent a week in the kitchen at H.D. Cooke Elementary School in Adams Morgan. where his daughter attends classes,” begins columnist Tim Carman. “Young and Hungry” usually deals with the city’s hip restaurant scene, so we are happy to have Tim notice (at last) that the biggest feeding program in the nation’s capitol actually takes place in the District’s public schools.
What we found at H.D. Cooke under the new “fresh cooked” regime being perpetrated by the school system’s food service provider, Chartwells–highly processed convenience foods from distant factories laced with additives and often heavily dosed with sugar–was enough to shock many of the school’s parents and create a sensation in the food policy blogosphere. Our local mainstream media just yawned. What else is new?
(City Paper’s “Loose Lips Daily” twice referred to the series. The WashingtonPost linked to the first two installments of the series in its online local news page. But not a peep from the Post food section’s blog, even though The Slow Cook has a permanent link there.)
After quoting from the series at some length, Carman concludes by saying, “It’s a good, passionate read, and I’d advise you to take a somber look at one school’s lunch program through Bruske’s eyes.”
We were thrilled to see that City Paper in illustrating the “Young and Hungry” column chose to use a page shot of The Slow Cook blog, featuring the work of our most talented designer, Keri Marion. Keri and my wife collaborated last year on a re-design of the blog and moved it from Blogger to WordPress. Readers have been impressed.
And that brings us to a new feature on the blog, in case you haven’t noticed already. We wanted a place where readers could easily access the “Kitchen Tales” series. Keri came up with the box you see in the middle column, incorporating some of the permanent features from our header, with handy buttons to click on for each of the six parts of the series, plus the epilogue. When your cursor hovers over one of the buttons, it illuminates. Cool, huh?
Meanwhile, we found someone else who cares that while everyone else in town is paying five extra cents for plastic shopping bags at the grocery store–creating a burden for poor people, according to food access activists–vendors at the tony Dupont Circle farmers market are still giving plastic bags away for free. We still wonder: how do farmers markets, which we thought were supposed to be all about “sustainability,” justify using plastic bags at all?
We’ve brought this up a couple of times here at The Slow Cook. But Washington City Paper (again) does us one better. They did some actual reporting on the issue.
Writing for the “City Desk” feature, and noting The Slow Cook’s concern on this pressing matter, reporter Kim Chi Ha, asked the operator of the Dupont Circle market, FRESHFARM Markets, what gives with the plastic bags. Co-director of FRESHFARM, Bernie Prince, replied that farmers markets are exempt from the bag fee.
Not quite satisfied with that answer, Ha took her question to the office of D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who authored the plastic bag law in an effort to clean up the Anacostia River. Wells’ chief of staff, Charles Allen, said that if you’re just using the bag to load bulk produce such as green beans, the five-cent charge wouldn’t apply. “But since there still is a transaction going on, or a so-called “point of sale”—like, when you go to pay for those beans and you walk away with them in a plastic bag—it would seem there should be a charge, he says.”
Allen suggested Ha talk with the city’s Department of the Environment. Department of the Environment said it would have to talk to Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. (Are you following this?) Then FRESHFARMS said it’s been calling Department of the Environment for a ruling on whether vendors at farmers markets should be charging for the bags, but can’t get a response.
Yikes! Who knew shopping bags could be so complicated?
Finally, one farmer, Nick Lapham, makes this brilliant suggestion: Just bring your own bag!
Thanks. We do.
And finally, we want to give a round of applause to local food writer and fellow gardener Sam Fromartz, who appears in Atlantic magazine’s online food column with the story of how he was called on by Alice Waters to perform a last-minute bread baking miracle recently.
Sam, author of the book Organic, Inc. as well as the blog ChewsWise, got an unexpected call from Waters’ office as preparations were being made for a local event dubbed “Sunday Suppers,” to benefit Martha’s Table and D.C. Central Kitchen. The idea was for 15 socialites to open their swanky homes for private dinners where guests would pay $500 each to eat food by the likes of Todd Gray and Nora Pouillon and rub shoulders with Bob Woodward–perhaps even Waters herself. In fact, it was to Woodward’s house that Sam was asked to deliver his bread after the professional baker who was supposed to handle it dropped out. And deliver Sam did.
Looks like Sam has been brought aboard the “Food Channel” at Atlantic as a regular contributor. Congrats, Sam.