Read This Now: Introducing the Weekly Link Roundup

After spending an unprecendented 3+ weeks in each other’s company, Irene Bean and I have come up with some exciting plans and goals to make this FamilyStyles blog a more delicious, useful, educational, entertaining and altogether excellent place to spend your time.

I’m in the process of migrating the blog over to another server, so apologies for any missing pages, weird links, and other bad things caused by my lack of coding skills and demonstrable inability to follow step-by-step instructions.

More importantly – we want to start a weekly link roundup of good articles, essays, ideas, and generally interesting and thought-provoking links from around the interwebs. Because other people are smart and do good work and write excellent pieces and we think they’re worth reading.

Thus. What I read this morning in bed and yesterday when I should have been working:

1. Food writer Corby Kummer in The Atlantic on the value of school gardens, rebutting another Atlantic writer who decries schoolyeard gardens as cruel, elitist, oppressive, and plain out wrong -  without bothering to speak to any educators, parents, children, or community members who have experienced such a program. Corby, on the other hand, actually makes the effort.

2. A GOOD article on aquaponics and making urban farming sustainable. You know how we love Will Allen of Growing Power and his vertically integrated closed loop sustainable urban farm programs. This article talks more about urban agriculture and introduced me to a fantastic San Francisco-based company called Cityscape Farms seeking to develop local food economies and transform the urban landscape by creating urban greenhouses.  I truly think that it’s these types of thoughtful, sustainable yet also business-minded approaches that are going to change America’s food system for the better.

3. Another GOOD article – yeah, I like them – on how Better Meat Requires Better Butchers. So true and so needs to be said. We pay so much attention to the bucolic ideal of small farmers with excellent animal husbandry over factory-farmed meat. But if the pasture-grazed cow is still sent to an industrial slaughterhouse because there are no small licensed facilities available, we’re very likely still losing out in terms of food safety, animal welfare transportation efficiencies, environmental pollutants, and numerous other problems associated with these industrial systems. So we need more butchers. Better for the animals, better for the eaters, better for the planet.

Plus, butchers are badass. Looks like it’s time for a new hobby. Way to begin the fight, Irene.

4. Lastly, a final GOOD article (I know it’s been 3 articles from them, it’s just…they’re really…don’t make me say it…you get the picture…) on the Slow Money Alliance, which is trying to be the Slow Food of the financial world by promoting value-added investment into local and regional farming enterprises. Can you imagine the impact it would have if more and more people directed their money towards small business rather than big business, companies that prioritize local production over international destruction, people rather than profits? (Note, this isn’t just some money-draining, feel-good hippie operation – the goal is to provide a return on your investment while supporting these ideals).  I’m interested to research this further myself.

UPDATE: Another interesting article called Who Will Grow Your Food? Part 1: The Coming Demographic Crisis in Agriculture by the author of A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil.  What will happen as farmers grow old or can’t afford to keep their land if no one is being trained to replace them? How will this affect our food system and the way we eat?

So. Hope you enjoy the articles. I sometimes find it overwhelming  trying to ingest just a few valuable drops of the tidal wave of information crashing towards me every day online and it’s nice to have things carefully picked out for you every once in a while. These pieces make me start copying and pasting links into various emails with the heading ‘YOU HAVE TO READ THIS ARTICLE NOW’, so this is just my lazy way of putting them all in one place. We’re going to try to do this weekly at least, so keep your eyes open…

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