Freakonomics points to some data that suggests - with one important qualification - that the answer may be yes. According to one study, healthier food has improved test scores and reduced student absenteeism in Greenwich, south London.
In a post titled Rules and Control, Johnnie Moore points an article on "food rules" that has generated a lot of attention, and suggests a favorite: "dont' create arbitrary rules for eating if their only purpose is to make you feel more in control." My favorite is "you don't get fat on food you pray over," which has relevance. There is an inverse relationship between thankfulness and the perils of "feeling" in control. Tricky thing, that.
MacArthur genius award winner Will Allen is taking the stage. The power he refers to is not necessarily about what it takes to grow a Fair-quality pumpkin.
"By 2050 80 percent of the world's people will live in cities." The industrial food system needs help. Food choices - healthy food choices - need to be available.
Six million people dies last year of starvation worldwide.
Because of this and because of a younger generation that is more aware of what they're eating, a "good food revolution" has occurred that has begun to draw people in positions of power to water what he refers to as "food deserts".
Food from these deserts is impoverished. A green bean, for example, loses half its nutritional value in the two weeks it typically takes for it to make its way from Salinas Valley in California to your store's shelf. Prior to wide scale industrial farming, more nutritional content was available in food. Local food choices are incredibly important.
He show some pictures of a farm purchases in the early 1990's, along with images of the kids he worked with, some of whom are now in their thirties. As the images go by, the soil is becoming darker and richer, and the greenhouses more numerous.
And as the land produced more vegetables and jobs, life skills were also being developed. In nearby neighborhoods, the newly planted floors had the welcome effect of lowering a lot of drug-related crime.
"Change the look," he says "and people act differently."
From 2000 - 2009, he gained some attention for these transformative effects, "which is how I got sucked into what I do today," to a chuckle from the audience.
Today the Growing Power Community Food Center is a thriving, active place with peoples from all walks of life, a multi-cultural, multi-generational place - something he says he values a great deal - "because that's what our country looks like". It's a coop of 300 farmers that bring their food to the center.
Growing Power's composting operation grows new soil on a massive scale, know-how that's important for cities, which have very little healthy soil. A million pounds of food waste is composted in the neighborhood where Growing Power is located and used to grow food "that will take you to glory."
"It's all about relationaships," he said "you know you've done that when they come to you instead of the police" when they get the inevitable whiff of odor. 75 carbon, 25 percent nitrogen is the recipe for compost. In Louisville, he adds, "Breaking New Grounds" is doing it right.
About 30 million employees at Growing Power do the composting work, "and they work for food." Worm castings are marketed for $4 pound retail, $2 pound wholesale to provide anther income stream.
The rich, rich soil created will produce far more than the average acre of land, and he has the figures to prove. Raising intensively also has the welcome side effect of also enabling the grower to lift themselves from financial poverty.
Growing Power is into aquaculture, power generation, bee keeping, animal husbandry and many other farm-related activities. To its 30 employees, a living wage is paid. And in Milwaukee, all third graders will be provided a healthy afternoon snack. Not a bad deal.
[Sometime contributor to the blog, Tina Rose will participate in the "Power lunch" at this year's festival.]
This time of year is always busy for me whether I'm at work or on vacation. This year I decided to have a staycation and spend the entire time processing/canning my blackberries, plums and various vegetables. I admit I am not one that people would ever assume takes the role of organic, blackberry farmer. But when I discovered a large patch on our property about 4 years ago, suddenly my mother's spirit descended and inspired me to SAVE THE BERRIES! Alas, little did I know that the berries would not give up anything easily. The branches have thorns, the leaves have thorns, the thorns have thorns and so the quest to gather the luscious, sweet fruit becomes a battle with the elements. But as with any quest, the journey is half the battle and makes the reward that much sweeter.
In a continuing public service effort at IFblog, the word for today is onomatopoeia, or words that imitate the sounds they are describing. One example might mewing for the sounds a cat makes, or the murmuring of a brook in a cool glade.
So with that thought in mind, and having had some personal experience with the subject, I'm guessing that Kitchen Confidential author, No Reservations star and 2009 IdeaFestival participant, Anthony Bourdain, would say that the word for the first crunch of some Thai street food such as fried beetles would be thwip!, which, translated, can also mean pow!, indigestion for the unwary.
By making more calories available for digestion, did cooking make us human? A new book speculates that the practice of heating food resulted in some pretty grim anthropological consequences - like marriage.
At the IdeaFestival, Jane McGonigal mentionedSuperstruct, the world's first massively multiplayer forecasting game, which fit the theme of her talk. Rather than forecasting the future, she was more interested in creating it. Superstruct is now underway.
Talk about a food with some history behind it. According to Long Now, which credits this story in the blog Genetic Archeology, one of many date seeds verified to be roughly 2,000 years old and excavated from the fortress Masada has germinated. Could the long extinct Judean Date Palm be resurrected? If so, fruit might be sampled as early as 2010.