Local foodshed becomes reality & gains momentum with online presence.
A bit over a year ago, I wrote a post called “Foodshift to Foodsheds” — a foodshed being defined as a small geographic area that includes the boundaries of where food is produced, transported and consumed. I then thought that the local foodshed comprised the Front Range, but Boulder now has an even more localized one. The Shed, as it has been named, is a new public-private coalition with a website as its first initiative to educate and build awareness about Boulder County’s local foodshed.
Boulder City Council members Tim Plass and Suzanne Jones shepherded the initiation through the local legislative process. The Shed has emerged as a coalition of nine private and public entities that aims to increase awareness, consumption and production of local foods. The founding entities are the City of Boulder, Boulder County, Boulder County Farmers’ Markets (Boulder and Longmont), Boulder Valley School District, Chef Ann Foundation, Local Food Shift Group, Naturally Boulder, University of Colorado and 350 Boulder County. While the City of Boulder (again) took the lead, it is a county-wide initiative with room for other communities and organizations to join.
Documentaries focus on America’s foods, food crisis and hunger in this supposed land of plenty.
Denver Botanic Gardens and Denver-born Chipotle Mexican Grill present the fourth-annual Sustainable Food Film Series, which aims to raise awareness of healthy and sustainable approaches to the way we grow, produce and consume food. Four documentary films covering organics, sustainable farming, local foods and the seafood crisis are on the 2104 screening schedule, with a post-film panel discussion and food courtesy of Chipotle. The series takes place at the Gardens’ Mitchell Hall. Each screening and dinner from Chipotle is just $5. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. with the screening 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 11. “A Place at the Table” (84 min) examines the American hunger issue through the lens of three people: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids; Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader depends on friends and neighbors to feed her, and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford. These are just three of the estimated 50 million people in the U.S. (and one in four children) who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush.
Tuesday, September 23. “GMO OMG” (90 min) asks questions about how GMOs affect our children, the planet’s health and our freedom of choice. Director and concerned father Jeremy Seifert tests the most serious question himself: is it even possible to reject the food system currently in place, or have we lost something we can’t get back? Seifert goes on a journey from his family’s table to Haiti, Paris, Norway and the lobby of a mega agricultural company, from which he is unceremoniously ejected.
Wednesday, October 15. “Food Patriots” (72 min) was inspired by a teenager’s battle with a foodborne superbug. Jeff and Jennifer Spitz are both the filmmakers and the parents of the boy. They document their family’s struggle to raise backyard chickens, grow food and transform themselves into food patriots. The documentary features people from all walks of life who are trying to change the way Americans eat and buy food and educate the next generation of consumers.
Friday, November 7.“Fed Up” (92 min) from Katie Couric, Laurie David (Oscar-winning producer of “An Inconvenient Truth”) and director Stephanie Soechtig, this film claims everything we have been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is wrong. The U.S. government’s first dietary guidelines overlooked the role of dietary sugar in increasing risks of obesity, diabetes and other health issues, especially in children. The film examines how sugar consumption has greatly increased, obesity has skyrocketed and generations of children have grown up far fatter than their parents.
Marczyk Fine Foods and Niman Ranch are teaming up for their second annual fundraiser to support the Next Generation Scholarship Fund. All week, through Marczyk’s next Burger Night, both locations are accepting donations at the register, and also the proceeds from each burger purchased at Burger Night on Friday, August 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. go directly to the scholarship fund.
The Next Generation Scholarship Fund supports young people from rural communities who wish to attend college to study environmental and sustainable practices so that they can bring their knowledge back to the family farm. At a time when the average age of a US farmer is just over 58 years old, American agriculture desperately needs a new generation of young, passionate and educated farmers.
Burger Night featuresNiman Ranch burgers from meat freshly ground at Marczyk’s and served on fresh brioche buns with all the fixin’s for $8.99. The evening includes a visit from the Brown Family from New Providence, Iowa. They raises happy, healthy pigs for Niman Ranch, and their son was a previous recipient of the Next Generation Scholarship
Inspired and inspiring indoor farm & more in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea.
Urban food deserts don’t get much drier than Elyria-Swansea, a northeast Denver neighborhood whose lyrical name belies an impoverished, industrialized area. It is chopped up by railroad tracks and freeways with much marginal housing occupied primarily by Latinos with language, education and poverty hurdles that seem insurmountable. The most recent neighborhood improvement plan seems to date back to 1983. The GrowHaus is attempting to balance those inequities through fresh, nutritious food.
Did I mention that the nearest supermarket is 2 miles from 47th and York, where The GrowHaus is located? I’ve been intending to visit ever since I read about it back in 2009 when a couple of food activists and idealists came up with the concept for an indoor urban farm, community center and education venue in this sadly underserved neighborhood. Built on the premise that everyone deserves a healthy meal, this non-profit urban farm and education center has taken root in an abandoned 20,000-square-foot greenhouse for a community-driven, neighborhood-based food system including food production, food access, urban agriculture, education and even job training.
The Hydrofarm is a model of urban agricultural efficiency, using a hydroponic technique that employs a recirculating nutrient solution instead of soil to achieve fast, reliable yields of 5,000 plants at a time with harvests every one to two weeks — plus fish grown in a tank that is part of the recirculating hydroponic system. Some of the crops grown are distributed at an affordable price to Elyria-Swansea residents through corner stores and The GrowHaus’s own farmstand, while the remainder are high-value crops grown for top restaurants and such specialty markets as Marczyk Fine Foods.
Bit by bit, they are continuing to renovate more of their space to accommodate increased food production, educational facilities and a local food distribution network. The GrowHaus houses a commercial indoor hydrofarm that supplies fresh greens and herbs to some of Denver’s best restaurants. The small fresh food market is called Mercado de al Lado. GrowHaus also holds classes, offers food boxes priced on a sliding scale (low for neighbors, higher for those outside the ‘hood who can afford it), operates an annual seed exchange and hosts annual Harvest Week pop-up dinners. I wrote a post about the 2011 event. The 2014 dates are not yet available, but previous Harvest Weeks have been in late September.
The GrowHaus has a new partnership with the Urban Farm Company of Colorado, which designs and builds vegetable gardens for metro Denver residents, and also provides guidance throughout the season on how to maintain it for maximum yield. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may remember my post about it), and if you sign on with the Urban Farm Company mention The GrowHaus, they’ll donate 10 percent of the sales towards building gardens for low-income families in the Elyria-Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods.
Westword‘s Lori Midson delved into the complexity during an interview with co-founder Adam Brock.
Online resource for biz news from the Rocky Mountain region.
Such food and beverage producing businesses as wine-making, brewing, coffee roasting or making artisanal foods in Colorado and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain region are covered by Company Week, an online publishing operation that launched last summer but that I just learned about. With the decline of print publishing, this is a valuable resource for keeping up with news about and trends in the production of things we like to eat and drink. What I really like about the searchable website and the free weekly digital newsletter is that they highlight news from small, local entrepreneurial businesses. Print publishing veteran Bart Taylor helms Company Week.
Between the weeks of September 10 and March 10, Company Week’s Food & Beverage category profiled Crooked Stave (brewing), Polidori Sausage, Peach Street (distillery), Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Sushi Den (“equal parts manufacturing and art”), Zum XR (performance beverage), Epic Brewing Company, Patsy’s Candies, Fresca Foods, EVOL (burritos), Door to Door Organics, Good Belly (probiotics), Mile Hi Foods, Kitchen Coop, Boulder Soup Works, Ska Fabricating (brewing), High West Distillery, Two Rivers Winery & Chateau and White Girl Salsa.
The Lifestyle category as included posts from the making of longboards to mountain bikes, but also inexplicably such food and beverage enterprises as Epic Brewing Company and Growing Spaces (off-grid greenhouses for growing vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs of all sorts year-round, without the need for heating). Thanks to Bart Taylor for hiring Wendy Aiello, Denver public relations diva, for spreading the word on this valuable site. Click here to subscribe to the newsletter.
Rosenberg’s NY-style bagels opening in Five Points
Anyone who has lived within shopping distance of New York’s legendary H&H Bagels (or in Aspen where they were flown in daily for a now-closed place called the Oy Vey Cafe) knows what a high taste-and-texture bar is set by top bagel bakeries. Now comes word that Rosenberg’s Bagels and Delicatessen is scheduled to open this spring in Denver. No, it’s not a project of Hosea Rosenberg, the New Mexico-born, Boulder-based chef who won Season Five’s “Top Chef” and who is plenty busy with his Blackbelly Catering and personal appearances.
It is the fulfillment of a long dream by Josh Pollack. He has been making bagels at Lon Symensma‘s Gather in the Golden Triangle neighborhood, recreating New York City’s heralded tap water through a filtration and additive process. He’ll take that aquatic alchemy with him when he starts producing authentic, boiled-then-baked New York City-style bagels in Five Points, a predominantly African-American neighborhood known more for soul food than Jewish food.
Update 3/9/14 – Joshua Pollack stopped by today with a bag of a dozen super-fresh, really good bagels and the news that Rosenberg’s opening date will be in May.
The building at 26th Avenue and Welton Street where Pollack will be making and selling bagels, and where a New York-style deli will be added, is known as the Arcade Building. His plan includes incorporating old and salvaged materials (such as original tiles) and traditional bagel-making (boiling, then baking).
Down the line, Pollack plans to add a glass meat and cheese curing case in the manner of Russ & Daughters, a deli on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that is celebrating its centennial this year. Pollack expects that he will eventually smoke his own fish and cure his own corned beef and pastrami. I am not sure that I will drive to Denver only for bagels, but I’ll be sure to stop by if I’m in the city between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., Rosenberg’s expected operating hours.
Organic foods e-retailer supports suppliers with a new cash-flow model
Door to Door Organics has become one of the nation’s leading e-grocers with delivery into nine states, but with an eight-year history that began in Lafayette, its roots are deep in Colorado soil, where it has cemented strong relationships with the state’s farmers.
Door to Door Organics has developed a new type of partnership with a local farm that is likely to become a model for similar arrangements with others. Door to Door Organics is lending Longmont’s Full Circle Organic Farms owner Dave Asbury $50,000 to help with cash flow during the spring, which is an expensive time for farmers who need to purchase seeds, starters and equipment all at once while they don’t have much ready to sell – yet. Federal, state and local agencies, and non-governmental organizations offer some financial support for small farms and farm-related businesses, but it is very limited, and the demand is high. Later in the summer when crops are harvested, Asbury will pay back Door to Door Organics in trade (i.e. vegetables that Door to Door Organics will then be able to deliver to their customers).
Many Colorado farms rely on the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model to help balance the income/revenue cycle with most expenses early in the season, but little or no significant sales revenue until late summer when crops are harvested.” Colorado location director Bret Ebel noted that “even that model doesn’t always work – for example, Colorado’s largest organic farm and CSA, Grant Family Farms, had to close last year. It’s difficult to be an organic farmer. This new type of partnership [first with Full Circle Farms] is a win-win for everyone: we help them succeed in growing high-quality organic produce, which we can then provide to our customers, and everyone benefits.”
Last year, Door to Door Organics offered produce from more than 15 local farms including Full Circle Farms, First Fruits and Ela Family Farms in Hotchkiss, Grant Family Farms in Wellington, Fossil Creek Farms in Fort Collins and Isabelle Farms in Lafayette. At the peak of the Colorado growing season, up to 60 percent of Door to Door Organics’ produce is sourced from local farmers. From late June through October, the company also offers a “Local Farm Box” containing only Colorado-grown produce.
Full Circle sells to local restaurants, Whole Foods and at several area farmers’ market, so their bounty — wherever you get their produce — is partly thanks to Door to Door Organics, which has closed a critical loop in bringing certified organic foods to local tables..
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.