United by Food

Editor’s note: Neighborhood Pride has since closed it’s doors.  I think our class joins the Tompkins County community in mourning the loss of a short-lived grocery store.  I for one applaud the tenacity and civic-mindedness of the Petito family and the hardworking employees of Neighborhood Pride for seeing a community need and working to address it in the best way they could.

by Nilim Gupta

There is a disturbing trend taking place in Ithaca today. As we grow up here Ithacans are growing apart, demarcated into various neighborhoods by income level. Each neighborhood– Downtown, Fall Creek, North Side, Cayuga Heights, Collegetown, West Hill, South Hill, East Hill, and Belle Sherman– is distinct in land values, racial demography, and the types of stores and services nearby. Two neighborhoods warrant special attention: Fall Creek and North Side. Fall Creekers generally have higher incomes, drive cars, and send their children to Fall Creek Elementary which was given a B grade by movoto.com. North Siders, on the other hand, are generally lower-income pedestrians whose kids go to Beverly J. Martin Elementary, less than one mile away from Fall Creek Elementary but with a grade of D. There is little in common between the two neighborhoods except for a small family-owned grocery store that straddles the border: Neighborhood Pride.

Obtained from: http://www.ithaca.com/photos/collection_eedc7512-8084-11e2-aa81-001a4bcf887a.html

Neighborhood Pride is not the coolest grocery store around. It’s a typical grocery store, upon walking in you’ll immediately know where to find everything. You can’t buy beer, the sandwiches are good but not great, and the only place to hangout is a cheesy cafe full of families. Also, as can be seen from its sparsely stocked shelves, it’s not exactly beloved by locals. Still, whether or not we know it, Ithaca needs Neighborhood Pride to succeed. Despite the well-known association between health and the local food environment the residents of Fall Creek and North Side have startlingly few options for healthy and affordable groceries. These two neighborhoods don’t shop in the stores, go to the same parks, or send their kids to the same schools, yet they both need nearby healthy food. Neighborhood Pride has the unique potential to nourish Ithacans as well as overcome class boundaries between them.

Map of income levels by area.

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that “the prevalence of obesity was lower in areas that had supermarkets and higher in area with small grocery stores or fast food restaurants” (Morland & Evernon, 2009). In the area surrounding Fall Creek and North Side there is only one supermarket: Aldi. This is problematic as Aldi sells very few organic and local foods in order to keep prices low. To be sure, this is exactly what many in the area, especially those in North Side, need from their grocery store: low prices. On the other hand, the food may not be as healthy which makes Aldi unattractive to the higher income families who mostly live in Fall Creek. Fall Creekers can generally make it Wegmans, about a mile and a half away. North Siders, usually pedestrians or bicycles, cannot. And as many of my peers know, getting to Wegmans by bus is not easy.

Ithaca prides itself on being unique. However, when it comes to supermarket locations Ithaca follows the national trend discovered by researchers that “compared to the poorest neighborhoods, large numbers of supermarkets and gas stations with convenience stores are located in wealthier neighborhoods” (Powell et al. 2007). Indeed, Ithacans who live in the wealthiest neighborhoods such as Cayuga Heights have an abundance of supermarkets to choose from. North Side, on the other hand, is an example of how limited choices become as income falls. This type of gentrification is not necessary; a grocery store such as Aldi can serve North Side adequately well, but there is demand in the area for healthier options as is evidenced by the relative success of GreenStar, an expensive specialty store. Although Neighborhood Pride and GreenStar fill different niches, should Neighborhood Pride be able to sell its local produce at lower prices than GreenStar it could draw the most health-conscious Ithacans to its doors.

Obtained from: http://tinyurl.com/nzwxumv

According to some researchers, the Fall Creek community might be harmed by having to travel farther for groceries. A joint study concluded that “Individuals have higher BMI if they reside in disadvantaged areas and in areas where the average person frequents grocery stores located in more disadvantaged neighborhoods. Those who own cars and travel farther to their grocery stores also have higher BMI” (Inagami et al. 2006). Judging by these characteristics– income of area and distance from store– Neighborhood Pride is highly qualified to make the claim that they are promoting healthfulness in the community. Its location on Hancock St. puts approximately *5,000* people within a 1 mile radius and it is located on a pretty, suburban street with a park in view. According to one study this could decrease automobile traffic in the area “by making driving once again a matter of choice” (Handy & Clifton, 2001). A decrease in vehicular traffic would be welcomed by the community as the narrow city streets are dangerous and Rt. 13 is already quite busy.

There is a deep divide between the communities of Fall Creek and North Side in a way that Ithaca is not known for, by class. The best way to stitch them together would probably be for their kids to attend the same schools, for their parents to work in the same places, and for more events that both are interested in. But in the meantime, a good way to start is with building pride in where they live.


Powell, L. M., Slater, S., Mirtcheva, D., Bao, Y., & Chaloupka, F. J. (2007). Food store availability and neighborhood characteristics in the United States.Preventive Medicine, 44(3). Retrieved November 4, 2013, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743506003343?np=y

Morland, K. B., & Evernon, K. R. (2009). Obesity Prevalence and the Local Food Environment. Health & Place, 15(2). Retrieved November 4, 2013, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1353829208000981?np=y

Moore, L. V., & Diez Roux, A. V. (2006). Associations of Neighborhood Characteristics With the Location and Type of Food Stories. American Journal of Public Health, 96(2). Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10

Morland, K., Wing, S., Roux, A. D., & Poole, C. (2002). Neighborhood characteristics associated with the location of food stores and food service places. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 22(1). Retrieved November 4, 2013, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379701004032?np=y

Glanz, K., & Yaroch, A. L. (2004). Strategies for increasing fruit and vegetable intake in grocery stores and communities: policy, pricing, and environmental change. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 39. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743504000209?np=y

Handy, S. L., & Clifton, K. J. (2001). Local shopping as a strategy for reducing automobile travel. Transportation, 28(4). Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:

Inagami, S., Cohen, D. A., Finch, B. K., & Asch, S. M. (2006). You Are Where You Shop: Grocery Store Locations, Weight, and Neighborhoods. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 31(1). Retrieved November 4, 2013, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379706001462?np=y

Kameshwari Pothukuchi & Jerome L. Kaufman (2000) The Food System, Journal of the American Planning

Association, 66:2, 113-124, DOI: 10.1080/01944360008976093

“Economic development policies to attract larger supermarkets may put smaller, neighborhood grocery stores out of business. On the other hand, they may also make available a greater variety of food at lower prices.”



Discussing Race: Too Much or Not Enough?

A small herd of rambunctious seventh graders shuffled into the theology classroom, buzzing with post-lunchtime energy. It was Wednesday, so we sat almost innately in a circle on the floor. I huddled my gangly legs loosely against my chest, sitting cross-legged had always been uncomfortable. Our weekly discussion topic was race, we were asked to share our experiences, questions, and challenges.

I was twelve, confused, and in the middle of an identity crisis. On the outside my skin was a seamless tan mix, but the on the inside I was being incessantly torn between the black and white sides of me. I was twelve and confused, sick of people treating the two sides of me as mutually exclusive, as if two races could never exist harmoniously in one body.

When it was my turn to speak, words fired out of me without reservation, “People don’t understand how confusing and frustrating it is when one minute your friend doesn’t want to hang out with you because you’re just “too white”, and the next…” I took a breath, my face grew warm, “a complete stranger driving by in his car rolls down his window only to shout “NIGG—””

Too much for the classroom. That’s what my teacher told me as she promptly brought our discussion to an end. I looked at her in utter disbelief. Race is an uncomfortable topic. Sometimes it makes people angry, other times it causes misunderstanding, and often times we try to pretend that it doesn’t exist, that we’re all the same. Why?

Ignoring race, or being “colorblind” will not homogenize the experiences and perceptions of different cultures, and it certainly will not make the issues associated with race dissipate.  

Although growing number of people are beginning to consider race to be a social construct rather than a legitimate biological standard of comparison, the fact is that we do not live in a post-racial world. Pretending that the issues associated with centuries of racial stratification suddenly do not exist will not improve our situation. People will always have inherent differences, but working to collectively understand and embrace these differences is what will truly lead to progress.

 Residential Segregation and the Food System

Left: Areas in Ithaca, NY considered low access to food at 0.5 miles shaded green.
Right: Ithaca’s neighborhoods with the highest African American populations shaded yellow.
Retrieved from: city-data.com neighborhood maps and USDA food desert maps (see resources below)

The repercussions of past legal racism, segregation, and prejudice still affect the health and access to food for many people of color. The places with little access to healthy food tend to be low-income inner cities with a high concentration of minorities. Such problems can be linked back to residential segregation, a common practice after World War II, which prevented many African Americans from moving to the suburbs. Even after the courts declared residential segregation unconstitutional, minorities still found themselves with fewer opportunities as manufacturing jobs and wealthier residents moved to the suburbs. Because so much growth was occurring in the suburbs, cities invested in highway transportation, suburban retail plazas, and offices relocated to neighborhoods outside of central cities. The rapid decline of industry, investment, and tax revenue left

Banks were weary of giving mortgages to residents in the red areas, which were heavily concentrated with blacks, immigrants, and jews.
Retrieved from: http://dsl.richmond.edu/holc/

people unable to move with underfunded schools and a lack of low skill job opportunities, and banks began redlining, making it more difficult for minorities to obtain loans for homes outside the inner city.

Just as jobs, retail, and nice homes fled impoverished minority communities, supermarkets and grocers selling fresh food relocated to wealthier neighborhoods in order to increase profits. Corner stores, which tend to be the most accessible stores in minority neighborhoods, rarely sell healthy food, and if they do it is in low volume and significantly more expensive since they are not able to buy it and store it as easily and supermarkets.

Beyond Socioeconomic Class

What’s interesting is that issues surrounding food injustice and race are not strictly socioeconomic. While socioeconomic class plays a role in nutrition and access to food, race and food can also be seen through a different lens. In addition to low access to healthy foods, there are also disparities in health between different racial groups, and some of these disparities only seem to occur after these racial groups have been assimilated into American culture. According to this briefing, “African American mothers with college degrees have infant mortality rates worse than white mothers with less than a high school education” (3). “…African Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders live shorter lives and have poorer health outcomes…than whites and Asians Americans. New immigrants have better overall health than their peers at comparable levels of income and education, but their health tends to get worse the longer they live here.” (pgs 1-2).

There have been suppositions, such as the faulty “slavery hypothesis”, as to why there are inequalities in health along racial lines; however, science has yet to prove that race plays a role in health outcomes. The article also shows another figures comparing hypertension rates between people of African and European descent. Contrary to popular belief, native Africans and Jamaicans had rates comparable to US Whites, while native Europeans had rates comparable to U.S. Blacks., “[suggesting] that something is driving this that’s related to the social milieu that African Americans live in throughout their entire life” (5).

Not Just a Black and White Issue

The disparities in health and food access between whites and minorities are important and real. To move forward, we must collaborate and come from a place of understand to work past our problems. At the same time, race is more than simply black and white. What about the quirks and intricacies of race and food? Who is telling the story of rural whites with little access to nutrient-rich food? Why is there such little focus on Native Americans and Alaska Natives, despite these populations having the highest rates of diabetes? And on a much lighter note, how do different cultures share, enjoy, and experience food? Just as our ethnicity is interwoven into the fabric of our human condition, food affects far more

Diabetes rates across different racial groups.
Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsDiabetes/

than our growling stomachs after a long day, it shapes our health, our opportunities, our experiences, and to quite an extent, who we are. By looking at the two simultaneously, we can learn much more about disparities in our country, obtain the skills to move forward, and gain an appreciation for the beautiful cultures our world has to offer.

So, my challenge to readers is twofold: First look to yourself, has your ethnicity shaped your access to or opinions about food? Secondly, look to your own local food system, what groups (if any) tend to stick together, and what groups seem excluded from healthy food initiatives? How have your own actions and attitudes contributed to or worked against your local status quo?

If you would like to learn more about race, food, and accessibility to healthy food, check out the resources listed below!






Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability by Allison Alkon

The Continuing Causes of Segregation by Douglass Massey and Nancy Denton

Food with an Attitude: Tompkins County’s Alternative Food Movement

“Have you been to the Farmers Market?”  is a question I heard unendingly during my first few weeks living in Ithaca. It seemed to me that going to this market was a rite of passage, so I needed to experience it for myself.  On a surprisingly warm, Saturday afternoon in Ithaca, I headed down to the Steamboat Landing to visit the iconic Farmers Market.

Ithaca Farmers Market

Although it was November, the sun was shining, and everyone was looking at their thermometers, (or weather apps), with large smiles.  Walking around the market, I was astounded by the diversity; from produce to pastry to pottery, the market offered a vast array of products.  Furthermore, the variety within the produce was like nothing I had ever seen before:  Giant squashes curled like elephant tusks, Brussels sprouts still on their stalk, bright yellow carrots, and tomatoes of every shape and hue.  Above food however, I witnessed a community in action; I saw people meeting people, people meeting farmers, and farmers meeting farmers.  I saw kids dancing to the rhythmic strumming of a local’s guitar, and a couple sharing the view of Cayuga Lake.  I then realized that the Ithaca Farmers Market nurtured more than just a healthy diet, but a healthy lifestyle as well.  It was the fostering of a community in every sense of the word.

The farming methods characteristic of local farming reflect an ideology that values community and relationships. With community comes care, and with care comes agricultural consciousness; the conscious choices that every proud local producer has to make.  Do they want to conform to the wishes of large corporations that promote commercial agriculture, or do they want to make a commitment to diversity, creativity, and community?  In Ithaca, the overwhelming response is the latter; the decision to foster a sustainable relationship with land, with people, and with food.  This decision manifests itself in the form of organic, sustainable, ecological agriculture. Full Plate Farm Collective, a local CSA, describes organic farming as “growing food without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers or genetically modified organisms (GMO’s)”. Furthermore, they employ methods such as “crop rotation, compost and other natural fertilizers, companion planting, and cover cropping to create and maintain nutrient rich soil” (The Full Plate Farm Collective).   These methods, while difficult to replicate on a commercial level, are fundamental for small-scale, independent farmers to be successful, especially when they have made the organic commitment.

In addition to food production, Tompkins County has become a model for food distribution as well. One of the many characteristics of the distribution scene is the presence of Farmers Markets.  As I mentioned earlier, Ithaca is the home to one of the more famous Farmers Markets in the country.  The Ithaca Farmers Market (IFM), proud to provide fresh produce to the community, explains that they are “not a ‘farmers market’ where vendors buy crates of broccoli from afar and repack it to sell to you. Every vendor who applies to join the Market must have their products juried by a committee of their peers, to assure quality and originality. And what they’re selling must be grown or crafted within 30 miles of Ithaca” (The Ithaca Farmers Market).  With over 150 producers contributing, the IFM provides the local community with fresh food, even in the winter. Considering its success, it becomes clear why every visitor to Ithaca gets asked some version of that fateful question.

Similar to farmers markets, Tomkins County is home to many cooperative food markets (Coops).  Although these markets are not as strictly local as farmers markets (though they try their very best to be), they provide the community with a shopping experience that challenges the traditional super market culture. At Ithaca’s Greenstar Coop, shoppers are invited to scoop their own walnuts, dispense their own granola, or even slice their own bars of soap.  Walking the aisles, conscientious customers are comforted by the countless signs reading “Non-GMO”, “Local”, “Organic”, and “Fair Trade”.  Ultimately, Coops provide a consistent source of fresh, healthy food, in addition to nurturing a greater connection between the consumer, their food, and its source.

An additional feature of Tompkins County’s food system is the strong presence of a network of Community Supported Agriculture initiatives (CSAs).  In a blog post, I discuss a particular CSA in more detail. In short, a CSA is a partnership between local farms and members of a community where, in the words of Full Plate Farm CSA “The farm(s) pledges to grow food for the community and the community pledges to support the farm” (The Full Plate Farm Collective). This system provides its members with fresh, seasonal food weekly, and provides the farmers with stability and ensures their success.  Finally, these organizations help form direct relationships between the consumer and the producer, further fostering a larger sense of community.

My exploration of the local food system brought to light national, systematic flaws, and how the local farmers have surpassed these obstacles. During my visit to the Ithaca Farmers Market, I found that only some of the producers were certified Organic.  At first I was confused; I was under the impression that all of the producers grew organic food.  After speaking with Jacob Eisman from Six Circles Farm, I learned that my impression was right after all.  He told me that all of the growers present grew organic food, but that the USDA certification was a long, expensive process that most small scale farmers do not have the time nor the money for.  Furthermore, questions raised about the authenticity of USDA Organic certifications have diminished its credibility in many farmers’ and consumers eyes alike. Instead, hundreds of farms have come together to create a certification that is streamlined and affordable, designed for “small-scale, direct-market farmers”(Certified Naturally Grown). Colloquially referred to as “moreganic”, Certified Naturally Grown is an alternative certification that means much the same as USDA.  CNG certifications also imply locally grown, while USDA certified organic food can come from another country.  Ultimately, it is in many ways more practical for farms to become CNG certified than organic.

As I finished my macrobiotic meal at the Ithaca Farmers Market and began to watch the many producers pack up what was left, I became delighted by what I witnessed; producers carrying baskets of their products to other vendors, and trading! In a society dominated by currency, it was a refreshing sight to see people exchanging raw goods.  One man gave a woman vendor a bouquet of his flowers, and she handed him back a bushel of intertwined carrots.  This bartering culture made me realize how intimate communities really can be. With a smile on my face, I left the farmers market with the knowledge that whether I buy food from a farmers market, a food Coop, or a CSA, I can be sure I am getting nothing but the highest quality food available.  As I left the market, however, I happened upon a two acre community garden called Project Growing Hope.  I spoke with a member, who began to tell me about the garden; he told me that despite its success for over 20 years, its future was uncertain.  Due to leasing issues, the land might end up being bought by a developer, who owns adjacent land, and that the garden supporting hundreds of plots would be destroyed.  Up until this point, I had never doubted the ability of alternative agricultural initiatives being able to succeed in Tompkins County.  The struggles of this one garden, however, made me realize that, just like any system, there are flaws.  Moving forward, I hope to uncover some of the difficulties that local farmers and agricultural organizations experience, and learn how they overcome these obstacles.  How can these struggles be brought to light? How can members of the community help organizations in need, like Project Growing Hope?


Sources and Further Readings:

About us. (n.d.). CNG – Home Page. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://www.naturallygrown.org/

Buy Local | Ithaca Farmers Market. (n.d.). Ithaca Farmers Market RSS. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://www.ithacamarket.com/about-ifm/buy-local/

GreenStar Natural Foods Market. (n.d.). GreenStar Natural Foods Market. Retrieved November 10, 2013, from http://www.greenstar.coop/

Project Growing Hope. (n.d.). Ithaca Community Gardens. Retrieved November 10, 2013, from http://ithacacommunitygardens.org/

Strom, S. (2012, July 7). Has ‘Organic’ been oversized?. The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/business/organic-food-purists-worry-about-big-companies-influence.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all&

The Full Plate Farm Collective. (n.d.). What is a CSA?. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://www.freewebs.com/fullplatefarms/whatisacsa.htm#251945042

The Organic Watergate: White Paper  Connecting the Dots: Corporate Influence at the  USDAs National Organic Program. (n.d.). Cornucopia Institute | Economic Justice for Family Scale Farming. Retrieved November 10, 2013, from http://www.cornucopia.org/

Grassroots Organizing and Tompkins County Updated Their Relationship Status to “It’s Complicated”

The Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement, or MST, started in Cascavel as a group of peasant farmers looking to occupy land for agriculture. Now, the MST reports a total of 1.6 million members across Brazil, and some 100,000 families are living in its squatter camps around the country. Okay, I think I missed a few steps.

Local Grassroots organizations are natural and spontaneous movements on a local level, rather than from traditional power structures. Grassroots organizations “are not appointed, elected or recruited except by themselves . . . [and] are unique in that they use any of a wide variety of methods in working toward change” (Zander, 1990, p. 22).

A Community Assessment called COMPASS II found that approximately 10 percent of the population surveyed in Tompkins County said having enough money for food was a critical problem in the last 12 months. Food insecurity exists in Tompkins County, but many local grassroots organizations are working hard fighting against this. Hunger is a result of poverty. The Hunger in America Studies done by the Foodbank of the Southern Tier proves that there is a correlation between economic success or downturn and the amount of people that are food insecure. Food is what is called a “flexible resource” because it can be skipped or limited to make ends meet. Thus, by fighting poverty, we are fighting food insecurity. Loaves and Fishes, Tompkins County Workers Center, and Sustainable Tompkins are a few of the prominent grassroots organizations fighting poverty, food insecurity, and social injustice in Tompkins County. With this in mind, the following questions arise: How do the local grassroots organizations of Tompkins County affect Policy, particularly surrounding poverty and food? How effective are they? To what extent can they influence legislators, and legislation?

Before we delve into the specific political maneuverings fighting poverty in Tompkins County, lets broaden our scope and look at Grassroots Organizations from a larger lens. Throughout history and in many Cultures, people have organized themselves locally

to find innovative solutions to specific problems. There have been many sociological theories that have tried to pinpoint the motives and successes of social movements. The two most prominent theories are collective action and resource mobilization. Collective action is well established in economics, sociology, and political science. Grassroots organizing is an aspect of collective action that has received considerable attention from applied researchers in other social sciences. The general idea suggests that Grassroots organizations can easily become irrational and destructive due to group psychology theories that surround the issue. In response to these implications Charles Tilly and Doug McAdam, in the 1970’s, publicized and popularized the resource mobilization theory, which is based on the economic principle of rational choice theory. The theory sees grassroots organizations as rational social institutions constituted by social actors whom have the goal of taking political action for the benefit of society. Both theories have been criticized, and neither has dominated general thought towards grassroots organizations. Several other theories have come along since, including political process theory, framing theory, and new social movement theory. While the study of social movements more generally has been a core issue in sociology and political science, few scholars in either the social or behavioral sciences have been concerned with the specific characteristics of grassroots organizing. But if you’re interested to read more into the psychological and sociological aspect of these organizations, I have posted a few resources at the bottom you should check out.

For one of our class discussions a few weeks back, a CUSLAR newsletter about the MST was required reading. With the start of the discussion, one student apprehensively, but curiously raised his hand and queried, “Could something like this ever exist successfully in America?”. It seemed to be the question on everybody’s mind. But, I couldn’t help but think, “Hasn’t it before?”.

John Cavanagh of the Institute for Policy Studies highlights two periods in the last century in which influential and progressive legislation were passed. The first period being the years between 1936 and 1938, which saw the largest change in worker’s rights in American History. Stimulated by New Deal legislation and backed by the Roosevelt administration’s pro-union stance, a multitude of labor unions grew immensely through out the country, and found tremendous success in influencing policy. The second period being 1944 to 1946, is commonly identified as the peak of the civil rights movement. After the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, the movement emphasized a strategy called “direct action”. Churches, fraternal societies, black-owned businesses, and other local grassroots organizations all mobilized their resources to try motivate volunteers and create boycotts, sit-ins, freedom rides etc… The labor unions and civil rights activists of the 20th Century employed a more direct and potentially more rapid means of creating social change than the efforts of the more traditional power structures. Both of these extensive grassroots efforts also had the unique advantage of being able to affect a mentality that permeated through out America, rather than exclusively affecting policy. These moments in history were comprised of local organizations changing local policy and mentality through widely popularized and disciplined social movements. Local grassroots organizations have the ability and potential to influence on a big scale.

Lets head back to Tompkins County. I want look at an organization that is not local or grassroots, which is why it is the perfect organization for my research! The Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations was created to help connect the research conducted at land grant universities with each state’s farmers. That mission, while still remaining true to its original intent, has expanded since to the general social well being of its citizens. The Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County is an interesting candidate for research because it is a part of, and influences government. It is a part of, and, influences government. In fact, it can be traced all the way up to the executive branch! Don’t believe me? There are 55 Extension Administrations within the CCEA, which is run primarily by Cornell’s public schools, Industrial and Labor Relations, Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Human Ecology. The CCEA and other Cooperative Extensions were established by a series of Morrill Land Grant Acts starting in 1887. All the Cooperative Extensions are now managed by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) created in 2008. NIFA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is a part of the Executive Branch. And you didn’t believe me. But I didn’t do all that research just to make you look bad. It’s important to realize that the CCEA gets much of its funding from the local and federal government.

Now I recognize that this organization is arguably outside of the jurisdiction of the research topic. The CCEA provides almost exclusively services and direct economic impacts in addition to being a part of the government. But the Cornell Cooperative Extension Administration (CCEA) provides an interesting approach to making an impact on communities. It does two particular things that make it relevant to my research.

First, the CCEA works with local governments to put together various service organizations or events. This means everything from advocating for funding from local counties to combining their own efforts with local counties to create service programs reaching their full potential. The amount a county works with and funds their respective cooperative extension varies by town. For example, during 2005, Chemung county provided only %10 of all revenues Received by CCEA, while Orange County covered around %72 of its local extension association’s cost. In addition, counties will work together with Cooperative Extensions on specific projects. One Such project was, “So You Bought the Farm…Now What?” Six counties and the CCEA put the program together to educate new farmers with useful advice for successful business practices.

The second important action the CCEA does that puts their work within the jurisdiction of my research, is their work with local organizations outside of the government. Cornell Cooperative Extension educators have worked with Community and Rural Development Institute (CaRDI) in Ithaca, Food Venture Center in Geneva, Watershed Agricultural Council, and Capital Region Nursing Homes. All of these organizations have worked with or influenced policy. In Ruby Smith Green’s book The People’s Colleges A History of the New York State Extension Service in Cornell University and the State she refers to the CCEA as, “with the people as well as of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

The Cornell Cooperative Extension, ironically, by not being a local grassroots organization, is a great way to introduce my topic. The hybrid of being a part of the government and the community provides unparalleled insight into the intricacies of both. But what do you think? Am I justified in researching the CCEA?

Remember that absurdly successful group I mentioned in the beginning?  The MST has become a large national organization, but has stuck to its local grassroots strategies. They create autonomous and productive communities that do more than just provide land. The MST creates sustainable communities by including education and a space of political socialization, getting ordinary people involved in social change. But the most impressive part about the MST is their ability to influence government. “It is fair to say that in contemporary Brazil, the MST has practically eclipsed organized political parties and labor unions as the main agents of social transformation.” Says Wilder Robles in The Journal of Peasant Studies. The MST acts as an exemplary local grassroots organization that has made it big. It is evidence of and an ongoing reminder that big changes can come from small things.

Further Reading

As promised, here are a list of great places to learn more about the sociology of social movements:

1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1996.tb01368.x/abstract

2. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1956352

3. http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/457/art%253A10.1007%252Fs11186-012-9180-x.pdf?auth66=1383709780_b1d4b717125b2327c3d2efcb8fe761d9&ext=.pdf

Learn more about the Cornell Cooperative Extension:

1. Scroll down to “Part Seven: Cornell Cooperative Extension” on page 97 to learn more about what the CCEA does. But make sure to take this one with a grain of salt, as the entire Journal is dedicated to complementing Cornell’s economic impact on the state of New York.



Check out this lecture about the CCEA, hosted by the director of the CCEA, Helene Dillard, Professor Scott Peters, and Jane Mt.Pleasant.



If you’re still hungry for more, and you live in Tompkins County, the linked book is, as described in the Foreword “essential reading for all who share…a commitment to accessibility”.



Go here and scroll down to “Impact of Engagement” to find a great general overview of what grassroots organizations try to address.



Here is a link to CUSLAR Newsletter that talked of the MST.



As somebody who has been there before, it was particularly interesting to see how effective canvassing is. Especially, since so many grassroots organizations employ the strategy. Let me know, what do you think?



Finally, check out this link. It’s a great overview of social movements in America. While reading over it, specifically look for the growing influence of grassroots organizations.




Nutrition of Campus Dining: An Increasing Matter of Worry

Editor’s note: This post is also available as a static resource page that can be found here.

by Jordan Davis

The Current State of Campus Dining, the Role of Nutrition, & the Concerns that Have Arisen

Nearly everyone knows about the infamous “freshman 15,” but there’s so much more than this assumed gain in poundage to the eating process which occurs on college campuses across America. The main concern for the staff members of these institutions’ dining programs is to prepare thousands of meals each day, enough to satisfy the desires of the often calorie-overloading, carb-divulging teens. But an additional concern looms large, despite often being overlooked by many. Not only must the chefs satisfy the taste concerns of students, but also they hold the important responsibility of doing so in a nutritious, thoughtful manner; a task that is not always so easy, nor has it always been taken into account.

The college years are ones in which lifetime eating habits can be, and generally are, formed. Unfortunately, away from home for the first time for many, students often see this transitional period as a time to divulge in unhealthy feasts featuring pizza, pastas, and all sorts of desserts. The change in lifestyle, including  increased stress levels and new social surroundings, can lead students down a scary slippery slope of decreasing focus on nutritious eating. Students may be looking to (sub)consciously revolt, in a way, against the traditional eating habits that parents forced upon them for all the previous years. “No dessert until after you finish your veggies,” moms will often say.

However, truth be told, the dining room isn’t always the most major of issues in student nutrition as other culprits are in play to plague students’ health. Away from the university-controlled food service, students take down a variety of highly fatty, cholesterol-full foods, especially late at night, from a variety of college-town establishments. But it’s not just eating out. Dorm rooms are littered with all sorts of candy, chips and other highly sugared foods, not to mention an abundance of soda and unhealthy drinks. According to a study of college students, the average number of calories found in the food contents of students’ dorm rooms was a whopping 22,888 (Nelson, Story) . All of this together leads to the worries of students, parents, and administrators alike about the health aspect of campus dining.

The “all-you-can-eat” style featured in college dining halls across the country has posed a health concern to students, health officials, parents, and university administrators. Retrieved from: www.greatist.com

Further reading with notable quotations:

Assessment of the dining environment on and near the campuses of fifteen post-secondary institutions

“Based on this evaluation in fifteen institutions, the full campus dining environment provides limited support for healthy eating and obesity prevention. The quality of campus dining environments can be improved via healthful offerings, providing nutrition information and other supports to facilitate healthy eating and prevent unwanted weight gain.”

Changes in eating and physical activity behaviors across seven semesters of college: living on or off campus matters

“The transition from adolescence to adulthood is an important period for establishing behavioral patterns that affect long-term health and chronic disease risk.”

Family meal traditions. Comparing reported childhood food habits to current food habits among university students


Universities Work to Improve the Matter

There are a variety of ways that university dining managements across the country are working to improve the nutritional aspect of eating on campus. Along with providing healthier options including items with whole grains and other vital nutrients, and a suitable availability of vegetarian and gluten-free friendly options, many dining programs are working in conjunction with campus health authorities to provide educational and help programs to students in need. One system that has seen increasing popularity and effectiveness is to, in a sense, advertise the nutrition of each available item in dining halls to, hopefully, supply students with increased awareness and knowledge about the foods.

Furthermore, the arrangement of different stations within the facilities can play a large role in student selection. If a student has to past the fruit selection on the way towards the exit, as opposed to a dessert stand, he or she is far more likely to select the healthier option, rather than walk back to the dessert choices. The initiative of tray-less dining and use of smaller plates has also helped students with portion control in the all-you-can-eat dining venues.

Even the corporate institutional food serving titans, like Sodexo, have put fourth an increased focus on the nutrition of campus food service. Retrieved from: www.nau.edu.

Further reading with notable quotations:

Using student opinion and design inputs to develop an informed university foodservice menu

“Universities represent an important setting for promoting health where the foodscape can facilitate and support healthful behavior. However, there is cause for concern over the dietary and nutrition practices of university students. High percentages of this population have been found to be overweight and engaged in less than healthy dietary habits.”

Using Nutrition Labeling as a Potential Tool for Changing Eating Habits of University Dining Hall Patrons

“Consumption of large amounts of fast foods and alcohol, frequently skipping meals, snacking on high-calorie foods, avoiding certain nutrient-dense foods, and adopting unsound weight-loss techniques have been identified as possible causes of poor dietary practices among university students.”

Why Do We Eat the Way We Do?

“For instance, if you serve pasta on a 10-inch plate, you might serve three ounces, and it’ll kind of fill it up. If you put that on a 12-inch plate, it looks tiny, so you’ll serve yourself way more. But in either case, if you’re asked afterwards whether you’re full, you’ll think, “I just ate a full plate of food, so yes.””

Point-of-Selection Nutrition Information Influences Choice of Portion Size in an All-You-Can-Eat University Dining Hall.


Students Combating Nutritional Fears (Or Not…)

Although many academic institutions have put the onus on their own shoulders, inevitably the students themselves hold the responsibility of making their own eating decisions, and living with the consequences, at that. So the question arises: what can students do to ensure that they don’t become an example of the “freshman 15.” The answer: a lot. A general rule of thumb is that deciding selecting leads less eating.

Taking a stroll around the dining hall to see all the available options, instead of taking as you go, can result in a lot less food on the plate, and this, in the stomach. Also, if the venue works in the all-you-can-eat style, only use one plate. According to nutritionists, this can cut consumption down by nearly 50%! Lastly, students should remember that, more than likely, they didn’t eat dessert every night at home. Dessert is a major culprit of added poundage in the first year of college. Establishing a rule of when dessert is and isn’t acceptable can be quite helpful in nutritious food selection.

Many students, unfortunately however, do not realize the importance of making nutritional choices where available and end up in an unfortunate situation. The results can have an impact on more than waist size, too. Unhealthy eating can resulting in poor academic performance, a diminishing social desire, a decline in energy levels, and an even higher stress level as students may become more self-concious.

Variables such as plate size and color subconsciously play a crucial role in determining how much a student will eat in a given meal. Retrieved from www.bonappetit.com

Further reading with notable quotations:

Male and Female College Students’ Perspective on Nutrition Fact Labels

“Of the 43 students who did not read labels, most responded that it was due to “laziness/lack of interest.” It is evident that college males and females focus on different aspects of the nutrition fact labels.”

Food Environments in University Dorms: 20,000 Calories per Dorm Room and Counting

“The foods observed in college students’ living spaces may have an important impact on eating habits. Overall, young adult–oriented obesity prevention efforts are needed, and improving the various facets of campus food environments may mark an important component of such strategies.”


The Local Perspective: Cornell’s Role

The local perspective on this matter is certainly important. Cornell University’s dining program is a critical function of the institution, preparing meals every single day for thousands of students and employees. The most intriguing part about Cornell is that the school actually employees thirteen chefs, making it “culinary-driven,” unlike other institutions that have major industrial corporate titans run the food service, employing maybe one or two chefs. The management at Cornell has worked hard to put a magnifying glass on the nutrition of its food and eating practices of its students. They are working to provide healthier options including more whole grained products and a variety of gluten-free options. Furthermore, they have instituted several education programs regarding nutrition and have established services, both through their on staff nutritionist and through Gannett Health Services, to assist students who are struggling with their eating.

Cornell University, located here in Tompkins County, NY, has placed an increasingly important focus on the nutrition aspect of the food served on a daily basis. The dining management has worked to raise awareness about the content of the food and educate students on ways to avoid eating in an unhealthy manner. Retrieved from camps.cornell.edu


Useful tools:

USDA’s My Plate

Sodexo Nutritional Calculator

Cornell University’s Gannett Healthy Eating Program


How does your university or local academic institution fit into the bigger picture?



De Backer, C. (2013). Family meal traditions. Comparing reported childhood food habits to current food habits among university students. Appetite, 69, 64-70. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666313002043

Driskell, J., Schake, M., & Detter, H. (2008). Using Nutrition Labeling as a Potential Tool for Changing Eating Habits of University Dining Hall Patrons. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(12), 2071-2076. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000282230801729X#?np=y

Dutia, R. (2003). Healthy Dining Team: An Innovative Approach To Improving The Nutrition Habits Of College Students. Journal of the American Dietetic Association103, 99-100. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002822308701597#

Feldman, C., Harwell, H., & Brusca, J. (2013). Using student opinion and design inputs to develop an informed university foodservice menu. APPETITE, 69, 80-88. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23707359

Freedman, M. (2011). Point-of-Selection Nutrition Information Influences Choice of Portion Size in an All-You-Can-Eat University Dining Hall. Journal of Foodservice Business Research, 14(1), 86-98. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=3&sid=cb94ffc2-8cf2-4cf1-86a8-886e370de54e%40sessionmgr115&hid=103&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=58528217

Horacek, T., Erdman, M., Byrd-Bredbenner, C., & Carey, G. (2013). Assessment of the dining environment on and near the campuses of fifteen post-secondary institutions.. Public Health Nutrition16(7), 1186-1196. Retrieved November 10, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23174458

Lam, F. (2013, January 31). Why Do We Eat the Way We Do? Brian Wansink, Food Psychologist, Has Answers for Francis Lam – Bon Appétit. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from    http://www.bonappetit.com/people/article/why-do-we-eat-the-way-we-do-brian-wansink-food-psychologist-has-answers-for-francis-lam

Mackesy, C., Bennett, L., Dissen, A., Kim, M., Kardan, N., & Policastro, P. (2008). Male And Female College Students’ Perspective On Nutrition Fact Labels. Journal of the American Dietetic Association108(9), A100-A100. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000282230801122X

Nelson, Melissa C., Story, Mary. (2008) Food Environments in University Dorms:          20,000 Calories per Dorm Room and Counting. American Journal of Preventative            Medicine, 36(1), 523-526. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379709001251

Small, M. (2013). Changes in eating and physical activity behaviors across seven semesters of college: living on or off campus matters. JOURNAL OF NUTRITION EDUCATION AND BEHAVIOR, 40(4), 435-441. Retrieved from http://heb.sagepub.com/content/40/4/435.full.pdf+html

Variation in the Prices of Tomatoes

The Ithaca Farmers Market.

For many of the local residents, the name brings to mind thoughts of warm apple cider, the soft strains of acoustic guitar, and various goods on display on brisk Saturday mornings in Steamboat’s Landing.

And of course, spending money on said goods.

On my first trip out to the farmers market, I had the opportunity to observe the various occurrences. I happened to notice a large discretion in the prices of tomatoes between booths at the market. Virtually identical tomatoes were being sold at prices varying from $2 a pound to a whopping $5 a pound. “What causes these enormous differences?” I wondered, and set off on a research project to discover the answer to my question.

Of course, as is the case with most open-ended questions, there are multiple answers. Variation in the prices of tomatoes is affected by many factors: crop yield and quality, to name a couple.

Here in Ithaca, though, the prices of tomatoes at the farmers market are affected by prices at local organic retailers. Several booths at the farmers market admit to pricing below retail value to compete with local grocers.

Booths also consult with their own customers about what they’d be willing to pay for veggies. One farm owner said that they always run prices by their friends first to see if a price is reasonable.

However, according to one farm owner, many other booths seek the advice of agriculture manuals to teach them how to price their items. Though I have been unable to trace exactly what this manual is called, according to one farmer, it dictates “proper” pricing procedure. The manual tells farmers to keep a record of the minutes they spend on each crop. Based on the amount of time, the manual has a corresponding price of what the farmer should charge in order to be properly compensated for their time and effort.

These “blanket prices” severely affect the price distribution at the Ithaca Farmers Market, because particularly laborious crops are charged at inflated prices. Take, for example, green beans. Green beans take extra time and care in order to grow properly. But green beans definitely aren’t worth $10 a pound-that’s ridiculous!

While these are just a few tactics the Ithaca farmers use, the national price variation of tomatoes has a few more influencing factors.

A big factor in tomatoes in general is quality. Bright red tomatoes tend to be priced higher, whereas their paler counterparts fetch much less. Firm tomatoes are more desirable than squishy ones. You can find more examples of tomato quality affecting prices here.


Another factor contributing to tomato prices is crop yield. Generally speaking, a farmer goes into the season expecting to earn a certain amount of money from each crop in order to earn a profit. However, if the weather severely hindered the growth of a vegetable. the farmer is left with less product to meet his expected earning goal. So, the vegetables must be sold at a higher price in order to successfully achieve the profit goals of a farm. For more information on the affect of crop yield on prices, click here.


This second link discusses “risk insurance” for farmers in regards to crop yield and revenue.


These, of course, are just a few general factors that influence the prices of vegetables across the nation. Many times, the price of vegetables is tied to a location.

Here are a few additional resources to pique your interest in the national vegetable price variation.

This resource discusses location and government policies affecting the price of vegetables.


This resource explains the price variation between retail vegetables and farmers market vegetables.


This is a forum that many farmers use to discuss how they determine the prices of their vegetables and other goods.


So, readers, allow me to ask you a few questions.

What are the prices of tomatoes like at your local farmer’s market? How about in your organic retailers? How about commercial retailers, such as Wegman’s or Walmart? What do you know about the factors that affect your local tomato prices?

I’d greatly appreciate any and all information you can provide-perhaps together we can discover the answer to my burning question: just what exactly causes the price variation in tomatoes (and other vegetables)?

Food Justice in Tompkins County

Locally in Tompkins County, nationally around the United States, and globally around the world; people make food decisions that affect their health, finances, and the economy of their local communities. These decisions, to many of us, are made based on personal tastes and preferences as well as our budgets. Deciding where we buy our food has personal implications on our well-being, as well as regional implications on the economy of our local economies.

We have the ability to decide for ourselves what we put on the dinner table, which is a big part of the idea of Food Justice. However, with this freedom many of us decide to do different things with our food budget. For the sake of convenience, many families opt for foods with a long shelf life and easy preparation. This often results in families steering away from fresh fruits and vegetables and filling their shopping carts with prepared dinners and foods filled with nitrates and preservatives.

This isn’t necessarily bad. Preservatives allow many families to have access to different foods that they wouldn’t have otherwise. But everything is okay in moderation, and many families are eating more than a moderate amount of foods with preservatives and are not getting the necessary amount of fruits and vegetables.

National and local programs across the country are aimed at broadening the food horizons of families who are currently dependent on a simple diet that lacks nutritional diversity.

Some of these programs are:

Cornell Cooperative Extension

“Cornell Cooperative Extension puts knowledge to work in pursuit of economic vitality, ecological sustainability and social well-being. We bring local experience and research based solutions together, helping New York State families and communities thrive in our rapidly changing world.” As a branch of Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension has access to all of the intelligence and critical thinking the university has to offer. They facilitate programs across many counties in New York (including Tompkins, Monroe, Cortland, Geneva) to better the lives of families and individuals. The website explains the various programs available for families in Tompkins County to gain access to fresh fruits and vegetables, learn the benefits of local fare, and teaching essential recipes to incorporate more green into their diet.

Find more information at: http://www.cce.cornell.edu/Nutrition/Pages/default.aspx

“Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.” – Eat3.org

Eat3 Program

Specifically in nutrition, Cornell Cooperative Extension runs a program called Eat3 that is geared towards helping families “Eat well, Eat local, Eat together.” It helps families learn the benefits of adding local fruits and vegetables into their diets. Despite being located in Tompkins County, the website has a lot of information that people can use from all around the world. Great information like what are some good recipes for cooking with cauliflower, and great tools like the farmers market locator, and more can be found when browsing through the easily navigable website.

Find more information at: http://eat3.org/

“Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.” – cdc.gov

Center for Disease Control: Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals. The Center for Disease Control discusses the various benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, and what it can do for your health. This website is full of information on food and nutrition, spanning from how to know when your food went bad to the effects of high sodium intake. Their piece on fruits and vegetables is very informative and will surely show you something you never knew about fruits and vegetables.

Find more information at: http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/fruitsvegetables/

Loaves and Fishes

The Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County is located at 210 North Cayuga Street, Ithaca, NY. They provide tasty, nutritious meals for anybody who wants to come in and enjoy a home cooked meal. They always strive to use locally grown produce whenever possible and the knowledgable, well-prepared staff cooks meals that are acceptable to even the pickiest of pallets. The website displays their daily hours, upcoming events, a newsletter, and much more.

Find more information at: http://www.loaves.org/

“Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling.” – cdc.gov

Food Justice Summit

The Food Justice Summit in Ithaca aims to bring the community together and create a sustainable, efficient, local food system. The event each year celebrates food sovereignty and food justice in our local community as activities are held to educate and help families learn to cook with the all the fresh local produce Tompkins County has to offer. The website has information on events, sponsors, and the local GreenStar Cooperative Markets.

Find more information at: http://foodjusticesummit.org/

These websites provide useful information on Food Sovereignty and Food Justice in Tompkins County. By no means are these the only useful websites on the topic – and there is information all all over the web on the benefits of local fruits and vegetables. If you have a website that you would like me to add to the list, a piece of information you’d like me to add to this post, or any other comments; feel free to leave a comment below and I will update the post accordingly.

Thank you for reading and have a nice day!

Food Discourse in Tompkins County

Editor’s note: This page has also been uploaded as a static resource page that can be found here.

by Lindsay Cayne

Topic Intro

Information and stories covering a range of food-related topics flow throughout Ithaca on a daily basis via newspapers, magazines, journals, and videos. These sources highlight issues relating to the “food world” of Tompkins County and the surrounding regions. The publications in Ithaca form pieces of this public discourse, so it is crucial for the journalists to write about relevant topics that Ithacans feel are worth reading about and discussing. However, while some food stories of Tompkins County are regularly discussed and covered in the media, other food-related topics are not. As residents of the Ithaca community, it is our job critique the public media in Ithaca and hold them accountable concerning their coverage of public issues.

Food Discourse in Context

I have amassed and analyzed articles from The Cornell Daily Sun (“CDS”), The Ithaca Journal (“IJ”), and The Ithaca Times (“IT”) (collectively, “the Ithaca Publications”) that journalists either wrote this year (2013) or within the past 6 years. It is important to step back and examine what is being published about food in the media in order to properly understand why some issues or events receive more coverage and are discussed more frequently than other topics. General topics relating to food that appear often in the Ithaca Publications include food events, food organizations, new restaurants and favorite eateries, increased food creativity, and political pieces.

Background to Linked Resources

In my latest blog post Food Discourse in Tompkins County, I referred to a range of articles that have appeared in the Ithaca Publications across all five of the general food-related topics. Below, I have listed links and summaries to these articles so as to allow you, the readers, to have a closer look at a few stories that the media feels should be heard and to draw you into the public discussion on food. When reflecting on these articles, what other food-related stories have you seen in the Ithaca Publications that come to mind? Try to think about other general topics you feel the media focuses heavily on in the Ithaca Publications as well as topics that have not been discussed enough. What topics should the Ithaca Publications focus more on?

Linked Resources 

Food Events

  1. Clement, K. (2013, October 2). Dryden Harvest Festival at Southworth Home. The Ithaca Times. http://www.ithaca.com/news/dryden/dryden-harvest-festival-at-southworth-home/article_f5eaeac4-2ace-11e3-87e2-0019bb2963f4.html
  • Cider and square dancing at the Dryden Historical Society’s first annual Harvest Festival on North Street
  • Festival held many events, including a pumpkin pie eating contest
  • All proceeds go to benefit the restoration of the Southworth Homestead, which has been a part of the Dryden landscape since 1836

2. Barrett, E. (2013, September 18). Farm-A-Thon to Raise Money For GreenStar Community Projects. The Ithaca Times. http://www.ithaca.com/news/farm-a-thon-to-raise-money-for-greenstar-community-projects/article_2f784870-2086-11e3-baf3-001a4bcf887a.html

  • GreenStar Cooperative Market’s nonprofit organization, GreenStar Community Projects, hosted its first annual Farm-A-Thon fundraiser along with the third annual Food Justice Summit
  • Proceeds will go to GSCP
  • GSCP partnered with the Ithaca city school district and the NY Coalition for Healthy School Food in 2008 to launch the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School
  • Around 400 people attended the Food Justice Summit
  • GSCP hopes to raise $10,000 with these two events

Food Organizations

  1. Matthews, C. (2011, November 25). State Providing $1.6 Million to Food Banks. The Ithaca Journal. http://search.proquest.com/docview/905968863/141377C8DF1256CCF64/8?accountid=10267
  • Food banks distribute goods to 5,000 soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and other emergency programs
  • The goods get to roughly 3 million people each year
  • State giving $1 million in grants to New York food banks and $620,000 to food pantries to areas hit by the flood, including Broome, Chemung, and Delaware counties (said Governor Andrew Cuomo)
  • “Help Your Neighbor” –initiative to get people and businesses of NY to donate to regional food banks

2. Staff Reports. (2013, October 16). Trevor’s Gift to Continue. The Ithaca Times. http://www.ithaca.com/news/south_seneca/trevor-s-gift-to-continue/article_aa31a5b8-3691-11e3-8e0b-0019bb2963f4.html

  • (From Trevor’s Gift Facebook Page) Trevor’s Gift: A backpack program funded by residents of TC providing food for needy children of Waterloo NY. Started 3 years ago, Trevor’s Gift has distributed more than 18,000 food packages.
  • Mostly working families in need of a little extra help receive this gift

New Restaurants and Favorite Eateries

  1. Chakrin, A. (2013, October 2). New Café Opens its Doors in Law School. The Cornell Daily Sun. http://cornellsun.com/blog/2013/10/02/new-cafe-opens-its-doors-in-law-school/
  • Fork and Gavel Café moved into Cornell’s Law School
  • Opened in late August; owned by Kathleen Pasetty and Pam Gueldner, who also own Manndible Café
  • Goal of serving local food and supporting the local economy

    Fork and Gavel Cafe

2. Xiao, K. (2013, October 17). The Best (Foodie) Reasons to Venture into the Commons and Beyond. The Cornell Daily Sun. http://cornellsun.com/blog/2013/10/17/the-best-foodie-reasons-to-venture-into-the-commons-and-beyond/

  • The restaurants represent quirky Ithaca
  • Great variety in the food
  • Xiao said, “The local small town atmosphere of many foodie places provides a great way to get to know the real Ithaca outside of Cornell”
  • Article goes on to list some of the best restaurants, including Just a Taste (sells Tapas), The Piggery, and the Ithaca Ale House

3. Fenchel, Luke Z. (2013, July 23). Local Patties: The Burger and Where to Find It in Ithaca. The Ithaca Times. http://www.ithaca.com/arts_and_entertainment/local-patties-the-burger-and-where-to-find-it-in/article_4c87724c-ee5e-11e2-8bfc-001a4bcf887a.html

  • Lists more than a dozen burgers, in alphabetical order, to try in Ithaca as well as where to find them
  • Fenchel said Ithacans enjoy simpler burgers the most

Increased Food Creativity

  1. Henrie, L. (2013, September 29). HENRIE: Food Security: Starting with the Geese. The Cornell Daily Sun. http://cornellsun.com/blog/2013/09/29/henrie-food-security-starting-with-the-geese/
  • Ithaca and other cities need to come up with more creative ways to obtain food, starting with community gardens and urban farms and moving towards more radical types of public gardens
  • Henrie said citizens and officials from Brighten came up with plans to stop all the goose poop, including putting oil on the eggs to suffocate embryos
  • Ethically, Henrie said he felt better if they killed the geese and then ate them instead of just letting them rot

2. Fenchel, Luke Z. (2013, June 21). The Trend Toward Trucks in Foodie Culture. The Ithaca Times. http://www.ithaca.com/arts_and_entertainment/the-trend-toward-trucks-in-foodie-culture/article_a961bd58-d84a-11e2-b752-0019bb2963f4.html

  • Food Truck craze—food trucks found all over town
  • Fenchel said, “Like what you’ll find at the farmers market, the food truck round-up so far has offered more than your standard picnic fare”
  • The article goes on to list a “roundup of the roundup”

3. (2013, September 12). Farmer Ground Flour: Growing and Grinding What We’re Growing. The Ithaca Times. http://www.ithaca.com/special_sections/farmer-ground-flour-growing-and-grinding-what-we-re-growing/article_47ac1648-1bdf-11e3-b4d7-0019bb2963f4.html

  • Farmer Ground Flour- small, cooperatively owned flour mill in Trumansburg NY, grinding local organic grains since 2008
  • This business wants to go back to that essential practice of milling, which helps create flour with more flavor and texture
  • Grains comes to the mill in “tote bags” that hold 35 cubic feet
  • Then the grain goes in 300 lb. groups into the hopper and is ground between two circular vertical stones before it is sifted

Food Politics

  1. Zehl, V. (2011, November 14). Broome Sees Increase in Residents Using Food Stamps. The Ithaca Journal. http://search.proquest.com/docview/903672825/141332521EE2DB522DB/1?accountid=10267
    Food Stamps


  • SNAP issues monthly electronic benefits that come in the form of an Electronic Benefit Transfer
  • Many elderly folks in Ithaca are reluctant to apply for food stamps
  • Too many people are not eligible for food stamps but at the same time cannot afford food along with other needs
  • Forced to resort to food pantries

2. Journal Staff. (2007, May 5). The struggle for food: More than $8.9M spent annually to feed county residents. The Ithaca Journal, A.1. http://search.proquest.com/docview/377929108/141377C8DF1256CCF64/7?accountid=10267

  • Over 3,00 of county’s 12,000 kids at public school are on free and reduced-price lunch programs
  • Over 8,300 people in the county are living below fed gov. benchmark for food security
  • Many organizations, such as Friendship Donations Network, give pantries and soup kitchens food to give to members of Tompkins County for free

3. Gannett News Service Albany. (2007, May 17). Food-Stamp Advocates Push For Increased Benefits. The Ithaca Journal. B.1. http://search.proquest.com/docview/377850691/14133D691552DCEC334/6?accountid=10267

  • Advocates challenged New Yorkers to spend $3.50 (average daily food stamp grant) on food for one day in order to get Congress to increase food stamp benefits
  • People on food stamps are going hungry and not getting enough nutritional value

4. DiPietro, L. (2013, September 24). Group Forms to Promote Healthy Eating at School. The Ithaca Times. http://www.ithaca.com/news/newfield/group-forms-to-promote-healthy-eating-at-school/article_050fdf90-2553-11e3-bf4c-001a4bcf887a.html

  • After hearing the statewide report on childhood obesity, a Newfield parent has decided to lead a new district initiative to promote healthy snacks
  • A new Healthy Living Committee with parents, teachers, and administrators has been formed to promote healthier food options at school
  • The committee has a goal of promoting healthy eating in school through ways such as parents choosing healthy snacks for classroom celebrations, teachers emphasizing fruits and vegetables at snack time, and teachers moving away from using food as a reward

Comment Section

            Refer back to the questions I asked earlier in the Background to Linked Resources section. In the comment section below, please respond to these questions and include food-related stories you have read from the Ithaca Publications as well as your thoughts on general food-related topics that have or have not been discussed in these publications.

Farm to School Programs in Ithaca, New York

by Margot Mangiarotti


Farm to School programs are programs promoting local organic foods into the food system of the schools. Snack time has now changed from Goldfish and pretzels to broccoli and carrots. In addition to snack time, lunchtime is also incorporating fruits and vegetables. The cafeteria is cooking with locally grown ingredients and making these dishes options for the students to eat. There are larger programs that encompass farm to school programs.


Here are the specific programs incorporating the farm to school programs

Beverly J Martin Elementary School

▪      Host of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program

Amie Hamlin- the executive director of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program

Ithaca Community Harvest

▪      Food system focused organization that provides food to those with lower economic resources through the Healthy Dinner Program, Market boxes, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program

  • Healthy Dinner Program- allows low-income families to incorporate local produce in their dinners
  • Market Boxes- allows low-income families to have local produce in their home without having to pay the costly expense

Wood’s Earth

▪      Similarly focuses on bringing locally grown fruits and vegetables through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program

▪      Also focuses on a school garden

New Roots Farm

▪      “New Roots students learn about sustainable food systems by being part of one that results in great school meals. This experience gives them a foundation for understanding the critical importance of a vibrant regional food system to our community’s health as we enter an era of declining fossil fuel resources.” (Wilkins)

▪      Not only are the elementary schools focusing on natural food produce in the school food system, but high schools are too.

Those affected by the programs are:

Health professionals see the need for healthy eating in school to promote healthier lifestyle for children. (Izumi Alaimo Hamm 2010) These programs are fulfilling their belief in healthy school eating.

Teachers are also participating, teaching the children about the local foods and also eating the foods themselves

Children ages 3-18 all who eat in the cafeterias are experiencing the local food, directly experiencing a difference

Farmers– are selling and producing this food going to the schools, very supportive and enthusiastic about the programs

Families– children are bringing these foods back home, and organizations like Ithaca Community Harvest are promoting whole families to eat this food at home also.


With the obesity epidemic, there needed to be a change in what was being eaten in schools. The Obama Administration brought the awareness of the obesity crisis to the Americans; during this time the influx of Farm to School Programs began.Obama Administration encourages healthy school meals

NSLP- National School Lunch Program (NSLP):  the United States federally regulated and funded school lunch program that began in 1946 to provide nutritious, low-cost meals to students in public and nonprofit, private schools (Bhatia Jones Reicker 2011) However this program is more concerned with eliminating childhood hunger instead of childhood obesity. (Coon Ziemba 2011)  For this reason the NSLP promoted “on the run foods” high in energy low in quality. This does not support a healthy lifestyle for the children. “Children spend nearly one-third of their day in school and consume a large portion of their daily calories during that time (Schanzenbach, 2009; Story et al., 2008); therefore, schools offer an unmatched opportunity to support healthy eating.  The Farm to School programs hope to take this opportunity to exchange these weak foods for local farm fresh healthy foods to help improve the lifestyle of the children.

There are some strong opinions about the government side, especially Amie Hamlin, executive director of Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program: “The bottom line is: there’s a food industry, and there’s a government that’s very influenced by the food industry and what that means is that people don’t get the information that they really need.”

Farah Hussein of Ithaca Community Harvest also discussed the need for all levels to be involved in the food system, so children of all races and families of all races can eat local produce while helping the farmers. This creates a cohesive centralized community all working together in the food system.

Where – Ithaca, New York

When – Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program started in the spring of 2008. Nationally an influx of Farm to School programs occurred in 2005, and continues to grow with Obama Administration. (Izumi Alaimo Hamm 2010)

How– The elementary, middle and high schools have budgets and the farmers sell to them in bulk or they give extra produce away. The money comes from an internal budget and it also comes from donations. Amie Hamlin, the executive director of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program stated, “one dollar a school day per child will allow this program to continue”.

Snack time at schools involve the kids being given fresh carrots. Lunchtime involves the local ingredients to be incorporated in the entrees by the kitchen staff or used in a salad bar.

Feedback– There continues to be great feedback from students, from parents, from teachers. “Students like it, price is right, we’re helping local farmers” (Izumi Alaimo Hamm 2010)

The main idea is that the increase in fruit and vegetable intake results in a connection between healthy foods and feeling good. (Miller, E 2010)

Studies have been taken that show there has been a clearer sense of academic and social improvements since the locally grown food was put in the schools. The changes show increase in physical activity, increase in self-esteem, and improved work ethic.  School meal participation shows that the salad bar seems to have more popularity than the hot entrées in the cafeteria; the all around attitude about the new food is improving and there seems to be an enthusiasm about the projects. No study suggests weight or height changes yet. (Joshi Azuma Feenstra 2008)


What do you think?

What are more ways to incorporate local foods into the schools?

Are these programs heading in the right direction?


Hamlin, A. (2011, April 21). Cool School Food: Ithaca. Retrieved September 25,2013 from http://farmtoschool.cce.cornell.edu/counties/tompkins.html

Anupama Joshi, Andrea Misako Azuma, Gail Feenstra (2008) Do Farm-to-School Programs Make a Difference? Findings and Future Research Needs. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition ?Vol. 3, Iss. 2-3, 2008.

Miller, E (2010, September) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program retrieved from http://www.healthyschoolfood.org/video.htm#bot

Ritchie, S. M., Chen, W.-T., Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (U.S.), & Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. (2011). Farm to school: A selected and annotated bibliography. Beltsville, Md: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Agricultural Library, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.

David S. Conner, Ben King, Christopher Koliba, Jane Kolodinsky, Amy Trubek Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition Vol. 6, Iss. 2, 2011 Mapping Farm-to-School Networks Implications for Research and Practice

Izumi, B. T., Alaimo, K., & Hamm, M. W. (n.d.). March- April 2010 Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii

Wilkins, Dr. J. “ New Roots Farm to School Meal Program” Retrieved from: http://www.newrootsschool.org/content/view/farm-to-school-1.html

From Farm to Restaurant and the Road Between

Editor’s note: This post has also been added as a static resource page that can be found here.

Ithaca is bountiful in culture, local foods, and restaurants.  With 400 farms within 40 square miles and more restaurants per capita than New York City, it comes as no surprise that Ithaca has an intricate network of farm to restaurant connections (Ithaca Fork).  More and more restaurants in the Ithaca area are sourcing their food locally and this stands out to both locals and visitors.  In fact, this is part of what sets Ithaca apart from other tourist destinations in the Northeast.  So, how is the Ithaca restaurant scene affected by tourism?  How do local farms and local restaurants make connections with each other?

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been reading up on background information and going out into the community to talk to individuals about food in Tompkins County. In my search for answers to my original question, I have come across a few other questions that I want to investigate.  Here are some of them:

  1. How do local restaurants and farms find each other and make connections?
  2. Is there are cost difference between sourcing foods locally and sourcing them nationally from wholesale companies?
  3. What factors affect a restaurant’s food purchasing decisions?
  4. What local initiatives are in place to promote awareness of local foods in restaurants?
  5. How does tourism affect the Tompkins County dining scene?
  6. Is the local economy affected by the purchasing of locally sourced foods by restaurants?
  7. Do local policies affect restaurants’ ability to source foods locally and conduct business?
Of course, I’ve only been working on this project for a matter of weeks, so it’s more than likely that I’m missing some key topics of investigation.  I would appreciate any comments or ideas in the comments below!

Work So Far:

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been going out in the community and talking to some folks about the local food system.  Click here to read a story about the Rogue’s Harbor Inn, located just North of Ithaca in Lansing.



I’ve been compiling a list of helpful resources pertaining to local foods in restaurants and tourism.  Here is some of what I’ve found, though I suspect there are holes in my research, if anyone knows of anything that I’m missing here, put it in the comments below and I’d be happy to add it to the page.

Local initiatives: 



The Ithaca Farm to Fork program seeks to connect local farms, restaurants, tourists, and locals in an effort to promote local culture, authenticity, and economy.  As a new program, Ithaca Fork is looking to broaden its influence and get word out to both the local community and to visitors looking to come to the area.



Perhaps the most widely recognized tourist destination of the area, the Finger Lakes Wine Trail not only seeks to promote wineries along the various trails in the Finger Lakes, but also promotes local places to dine, stay, and play.



The Finger Lakes Beer Trail is another widely recognized attraction in Central New York.  Its website is largely aimed at bringing attention to the breweries on the trails and bringing visitors into the area.



Cheese is an up-and-coming attraction in Central New York.  With more creameries emerging in the lake region, the Finger Lakes Cheese trail is gaining both members and visitors.



Sustainable Tompkins is a locally driven initiative organization looking to improve citizens’ relationships with each other and the land through stewardship and shared responsibility.  They recognize local businesses and programs for their efforts in increasing the sustainability of various systems in Tompkins County.



The Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau gets general information out there about how to visit the Ithaca area.  While not directly pertinent to food, it is important to consider how tourists find their way to Ithaca.



Local First Ithaca strives to keep business locally in all sectors to benefit the local economy.  Their slogan is “Think local, buy local, be local”.  In their Guide to Being Local, they identify dozens of businesses (including restaurants) that do their business locally and have a coupon program set up to encourage people to visit some of these locales.



Edible Finger Lakes is a quarterly magazine centered on the local food scene of the Finger Lakes Region.  The culinary magazine covers stories from small farms to restaurants to private kitchens and everything in between.



Ithaca’s Food Web is a blog describing local events and news regarding the local food system.  It is a great place to check out to see what’s happening in and around Ithaca pertaining to food!



For Further Reading

The following list of articles have been helpful to me in my background research.  They may be available at or through your local libraries if you are interested in reading them.


Farm to Restaurant Connections:

Assessing Costs of Using Local Foods in Independent Restaurants

Amit Sharma, Mary B. Gregorie, Catherine Strohbehn.  Journal of Foodservice Business Research.

Sharma and Strohbehn evaluate the costs associated with sourcing their main menu food items locally.  Of course, it addresses cost of the food itself, though it also takes into account additional time spent in arranging orders, preparing food, and delivery times associated with buying food locally.

Case Studies of Local Food Purchasing by Central Iowa Restaurants and Institutions

 Catherine H. Strohbehn, Mary B. Gregorie.  Foodservice Research International.

Strohbehn and Gregorie address the perceived benefits and risks for restaurants to purchase foods locally in a case study centered in Iowa.  The authors asked restaurants to participate in a single season study and recorded pre and post study opinions of issues regarding locally sourced foods including but not limited to food quality, food safety, cost, and timely delivery.

Restaurants, Chefs and Local Foods: Insights Drawn from Application of a Diffusion of Innovation Framework

Shoshannah M. Inwood, Jeff S. Sharp, Richard H. Moore, Debrah H. Stinner.  Agriculture and Human Values.

This article examines the methods and motivations for early restaurateur adopters of buying locally sourced foods for their menus.  The authors address benefits and drawbacks of buying locally as well as issues invoked by the modern consumer.


Scaling Up- Meeting the Demand for Local Food

Lindsey Day-Fransworth, Brent McCown, Michelle Miller, Anne Pfeiffer.

In response to increased demand for local foods for a variety of reasons, the authors of this paper studied 11 local food distributors as models to develop a business model for their own community.  These 11 food distributors were located in various locations in the United States, which can be used as comparisons for the Tompkins County food system.


Sustaining Local Agriculture: Barriers and Opportunities to Direct Marketing Between Farms and Restaurants in Colorado

Amory Starr et al.  Agriculture and Human Values.

This article addresses the needs of local farms in finding a direct, local market for their products.  In addition to finding a fair price for their product, farms need to have a steady market that will be large enough to sustain their consistent output.


Tourism in respect to dining:

Authenticity, Equity and Sustainability in Tourism

Erik Cohen.  Journal of Sustainable Tourism.

This article explores three main topics: potential misuse of the term sustainability in regards to the tourism experience, the interface between authenticity and sustainability, and issues regarding limiting access to natural sites in the name of sustainability.


Food, Place and Authenticity: Local Food and the Sustainable Tourism Experience

Rebecca Sims.  Journal of Sustainable Tourism.

This article addresses tourists’ perception of the area they are visiting and the implications this has on their travel experience.  Sims explores two regions in the UK for tourism effects.


Food in Tourism: Attraction and Impediment

Erik Cohen, Nir Avieli.  Annals of Tourism Research.

This paper delves into the issues that tourists experience regarding food in their abroad travels.  Unfamiliar foods and food preparation practices can cause stress for tourists, and while this is a strange concept to think about locally, this may be a concern for visitors from abroad.


Local Development and Heritage: Traditional Food and Cuisine as Tourist Attractions in Rural Areas

Jacinthe Bessiere.  Sociologia Ruralis.

Centered on the French countryside, this paper discusses how tourism affects development of rural areas.