Zipline passing by the Ferry Building over Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco, CA. Photo by Justin Beck
Friday Evening. 7 PM. I am sitting chilled in a pumpkin field Friday night as the moon rises in a charcoal sky. Face-painted youngsters romp around deep in the yard amidst straw bales and chicken coops and scarecrows.
A white sheet screen stretches taut across the window, a backdrop for the red-caped, garden-gloved, sun-glass-visored Salivation Army warrior Jacquie Phelan to project pictures of her experiences as a gleaner, dumpster diver and chef extraordinaire. Some 50 of us are on hand for an event hosted by Transition Mill Valley to launch the opening of Grow, the town's new Tam Junction 'sustainability center.'
Phelan is the opening act for the screening of fellow freegan diver Jeremy Seifert's documentary Dive, an infotainment flick promoting his campaign to end food waste in America.
Every year Americans throw away 96 billion pounds of food.
... Besides reemphasizing the need to tackle waste by both promoting composting and/or organic waste-to-energy solutions, and maybe even wasting less food in the first place (hey, I'm an optimist!), the neat thing about framing the problem in these terms is that it reminds us once again that no sustainability issue can be tackled in isolation. Yes, we need to stop waste food on our farms, in our warehouses, in our stores, our businesses and institutions, and in our homes. But we also need to tackle the environmental footprint of how that food was grown in the process. Discarding Food Wastes More Water than Showering
... You needn't be a devoted freegan to appreciate just how much of the food we throw away is still in near-pristine condition. As if wasting all that food weren't bad enough, one can only imagine the vast quantities water that get frittered away worldwide during production (too much). In the U.S. alone, around 40 trillion liters of water (roughly the amount needed to produce 30% of the country's food), enough to supply the needs of 500 million families, are lost every year.Half of All Food Produced Worldwide is Wasted
... 31 million tons is thrown into landfills. Much of that produces methane as it rots; the gas is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The UK website Next Generation Food estimates that each tonne of food waste is equivalent to 4.2 tonnes of CO2. They conclude that if we simply stopped wasting food, it would be the equivalent of taking a quarter of all the cars in America off the road. The climate impact of uneaten food
... Orchestrated by award-winning film maker Jeremy Seifert—producer of the food waste documentary Dive!—a campaign has been building at petition site change.org to tell Trader Joe's to stop wasting their food, donate soon-to-expire products, and implement a company-wide zero food waste policy. Head on over to the Trader Joe's food waste petition to add your voice to the crowd. Tell Trader Joe's to Stop Wasting Food
There isn't a bone in my sixty-year-old body that does not ache after the three-and-a-half hour 5000 strong march with Occupy San Francisco. I feel, in fact, just about as dead as the batteries on my camera and cell phone as I exit the camp, which is tucked in the shade of a smattering of Palm Trees under the shadow of the spire of the Ferry Building. Each, in its own fashion, an exclamation point at the foot of Market Street.
A roar goes up as someone shoots through the sky on the Justin Herman Plaza Zipline. Don't know why that fires up a neural connection with hunger, but I find myself turning back to the camp, wondering what ARE all these people doing for food?
About 300 people still occupy the camp. Perched on a stationary bicycle attached to a old car battery, a young occupier, slick with sweat, pedals profusely to power up the evening. Right behind him, a queue walks along a tattered row of tables and boxes, overflowing with bread, oranges, apples, red peppers. Two women dish out salad, behind them a stockpile of non-perishables -- containers of cereals and teas; crackers and water; a box of gloves for food servers; some cakes.
I hear someone call out. "Here's the butter ... but we don't have any knives ... "
A young volunteer on the kitchen staff is refilling the huge salad bowl.
"Where does all the food come from?" I ask.
"From everywhere," he says. "They just drop it off. Everyone."
... That night, Oct. 1, the camp was lively and half a block long. A big, hot pot of soup sat on the kitchen stove.
(snip) On Wednesday, Oct. 5, the camp was busy, clean, and what organizer Amy O proudly described as "jubilant." Hundreds exchanged ideas, played music, and made signs and art. Two abundant snack tables providing free food to any and all were only the tip of the iceberg; the kitchen was piled so high that organizers had begun turning away food donations.
She carried a clipboard and was compiling a massive list of food, supplies ... I learned that a flood of supporters, eager to donate, had requested info about what the camp needed. She planned to post the list on occupysf.com later that night.
Fifteen people climbed into a tent for the Gardening Committee meeting, keen to begin growing food for the camp. The donations were rolling in, and if there was a project we wanted to do, well, we probably could. We discussed what could grow in the winter and planting more in the spring. Inside the Occupation
"Camp life is dotted with calls for the People's Mic, a tool developed at Occupy Wall Street, where using bullhorn or speakers is illegal. When someone yells "Mic check!" the crowd echoes in response. The person speaks his piece, sentence by sentence, as the crowd repeats. If a few people nearby can hear him, everyone can. For better or for worse, it tends not to amplify ideas people don't have much taste for; at a recent meeting, when someone insisted that people who had been foreclosed on were greedy and foolish, the People's Mic's volume faded fast.
"The People's Mic requires no electricity, discourages rambling, a brilliant improvisation." Inside the Occupation
And so I close tonight with a Daily Kos "people's mic."
Are you ready?
I say DIVE.
You say DIVE.
I say NOW..
You say NOW..
I say SHARE.
YOU say SHARE.
I say NOW!
You Say NOW!
I say Feed America.
You say Feed America.
I say NOW!
You say NOW!
I say Feed America.
You say Feed America.
I say NOW!
You say NOW!
I say WE ARE.
You say WE ARE.
I say: The 99%.
You say. The 99%.
I say DONATE.
You say DONATE.
I say NOW!
YOU say ......
Feeding America locates food surplus and intercepts it on its way to the trash and distributes it to food banks all over the country. They do not buy most of their food, which is why they can provide meals so efficiently. They collect from vendors, grocery stores, and restaurants all over the country. Plenty of food is out there -- the problem is one of logistics, transportation, and distribution.
Because Feeding America redistributes surplus, they can provide healthy meals cheaply. Ninety five cents on every dollar that you donate here goes to food distribution. Donating to Feeding America is one of the most efficient ways that you can help aid hungry people.
Even $1 will help. Click on the icon above.
If you have the means, please donate to Feeding America by clicking on the box to the right. In addition to supplying food banks all over the country, they help hungry kids through their Backpack Program, Kids Cafe, Summer Food, and School Pantry programs. And this month, Ameriprise Financial will match your donation -- which means that every dollar you donate provides 16 meals to hungry people.
All times Eastern!
Saturday, Oct 15:
9:00a -- noweasels with Hunger Lives Near You
12:00p -- teacherken with Our Children are Unhealthy
3:00p -- TheFatLadySings with Fighting Hunger in My Community
6:00p -- blue jersey mom with A Challenge in Honor of My Mom
9:00p -- JayinPortland with Checking in from Oregon
Owls -- Timroff with Feeding Occupiers and the Homeless
Sunday, Oct 16
9:00a -- rb137 with Is it real food?
12:00p -- JanF 1 in 6 Blogathon for Feeding America: Food Banks and Food Pantries
3:00p -- Aji with Windigo - Hunger in Native America
5:00p -- Patric Juillet 1 in 6: Feeding America: Food Wastrels
7:00p -- Chacounne 1 in 6 : Hunger in Vancouver
10:00p -- boatsie
We are proud to be taking part in Blog Action Day OCT 16 2011 www.blogactionday.org
Additional Photo Credits: Tam Junction Sustainability Center and Pumpkin Field by Jim Welte; photos (embarassingly amateur) @ OSF by author.