Pope Benedict XVI Denounces Food Commodities Speculation, Demands Global Response

(AP) VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI denounced speculation in commodities markets Friday and demanded a global response to high food prices based on solidarity, not profit.

Benedict told delegates of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization that access to food is a basic human right that must be guaranteed. He said it’s urgent to develop economic models that aren’t just based on profit but take into account the “human dimension.” “How can we remain silent when even food has become the object of speculation or is linked to a market that, without any regulation and deprived of moral principles, appears linked solely to an objective of profit?” he asked. High food prices, he said, require an international response by countries and institutions like the FAO to uphold the dignity of all people.

Benedict’s call echoed the argument laid out in his last encyclical “Charity in Truth,” which denounced the profit-at-all cost mentality blamed for the global economic downturn. Members of the FAO who attended the audience earlier recently elected a new director-general, Jose Graziano da Silva of Brazil, who takes over at a time when FAO’s mission to eradicate world hunger has been challenged by near-record high food prices.

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Mariposa Breaking Ground This Week!

Mariposa Food Co-op Kicks Off New Store Construction with Groundbreaking Ceremony June 27th 3pm

Mariposa Storefront

June 27, 2011 – Philadelphia, PA. Today at 3:00 PM, Mariposa Food Co-op celebrates the start of construction on its new grocery store with a groundbreaking ceremony at the new store site: the landmark Belmont Trust Building at 4824 Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, representatives of the project’s major supporters, and other honored guests will join the co-op’s membership for the event, which is open to the public.

When Mariposa opens its doors in October, our community-owned institution will dramatically improve access to healthy food in the neighborhood,” said Peter Collopy, Convener of Mariposa’s Board of Delegates.

The new store, five times the size of the current space, will offer an expanded selection of locally-produced, organic, and conventional products. Anyone will be able to shop at the new Mariposa Food Co-op, though members will receive a discount.

“We couldn’t do it without the dedication of our members and institutional partners, so today is about celebrating and thanking them,” continued Collopy.

Almost a quarter of the $2.3 million raised for the project to date has come from co-op members and other individuals. Other major funders include The Reinvestment Fund, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund and The Merchants Fund.

The Mariposa Food Co-op expansion is a great example of state government partnering with local government and local development organizations,” said DCED Secretary C. Alan Walker.

Mariposa’s expansion means a significant transformation for the organization, but also deeper contributions to the local and regional economy. With considerably more space and more customers Mariposa will be able to expand its product lines and buying power, further supporting regional farmers and distributors of healthy and sustainable foods.

“The Reinvestment Fund is committed to supporting healthy food retailers that build local food systems and improve access to fresh foods for poor and working families,” said Patricia L. Smith, Senior Policy Advisor at TRF. “We are especially proud to support projects like Mariposa Food Co-op that promote fresh foods that are locally grown in a sustainable, responsible way, contributing to the economic and social well-being of this region as a whole.”

The groundbreaking ceremony will commence a $1 million eco-renovation, contributing to beautification and economic development on a recovering commercial corridor. In addition to the construction jobs created by the project, the new store will create eight to ten permanent jobs. Because Mariposa Food Co-op is owned and operated by its members, profits will stay in the neighborhood.

“The expansion of Mariposa Food Co-op is an outstanding example of neighborhood economic development that is vital to the well-being of our local communities,” said PIDC President Peter Longstreth.

The groundbreaking ceremony and reception is open to the public. Food and refreshments will be served.

Youth Food Bill of Rights!

Young People are getting organized around nutrition, food access, and their right to control their own interaction with the food systems in their schools and all around them.

On July 30th, 2011, over 150 youth will gather at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to present a Youth Food Bill of Rights:

What is the Youth Food Bill of Rights?

It’s what youth believe our food system should be like!
It’s a work in progress
It’s created by Youth
It’s a Statement to All
It’s a tool for Change!!!

Young people, educators, and allies everywhere can take part in the day of action, and help students give input for the Youth Food Bill of Rights!

The Unbearable Sadness of Winter Tomatoes

from boingboing:

Journalist Barry Estabrook has won two James Beard Awards for his writing about food. His newest book, called Tomatoland, is about … er … the tomato. More importantly, it’s about what it takes to grow food that can meet full-year, everywhere, low-cost demand and how the changes we’ve made to agriculture have both helped us and hurt us. You can read an excerpt, about growing tomatoes in Florida, at On Earth magazine. It’s a prime example of the kind of trade-offs Estabrook is talking about. To get a glistening red tomato in the depths of winter, you have to grow the fruit in a place and using techniques that pretty much ensure the tomatoes you do get won’t taste nearly as good as you want them to.

From a purely botanical and horticultural perspective, you would have to be an idiot to attempt to commercially grow tomatoes in a place like Florida. The seemingly insurmountable challenges start with the soil itself. Or more accurately, the lack of it. Although an area south of Miami has limestone gravel as a growing medium, the majority of the state’s tomatoes are raised in sand. Not sandy loam, not sandy soil, but pure sand, no more nutrient rich than the stuff vacationers like to wiggle their toes into on the beaches of Daytona and St. Pete.

Why bother trying to grow something as temperamental as a tomato in such a hostile environment?

The answer has nothing to do with horticulture and everything to do with money. Florida just happens to be warm enough for a tomato to survive at a time of year when the easily accessed population centers in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, with their hordes of tomato-starved consumers, are frigid, their fields frozen solid under carpets of snow. But for tomatoes to survive long enough to take advantage of that huge potential market, Florida growers have to wage what amounts to total war against the elements. Forget the Hague Convention: We’re talking about chemical, biological, and scorched-earth warfare against the forces of nature.