Sweet Roots' Dinner Party Approved Guide the Farm Bill

The 2014 Farm Bill was passed by congress just a few weeks ago and it’s sparked some interesting conversations around the Sweet Roots space. We’ll spare you the nitty gritty details of the 900+ page document. Here are a few key tidbits, so that you’re on the ball when your dining companion asks you to pass the Atlantic Spiny Dogfish.

  1. “It isn’t really a bill just for farmers, it really should be called the food bill because it is the rules for the food system we all eat by.” - Michael Pollan
    Even if Union Square is the closest you’ve been to a farm in years, the Farm Bill has more to do with your day-to-day than you’d imagine. From grocery prices and SNAP eligibility to fresh produce in school lunches and general nutrition guidelines, the bill manages to cover a lot of ground.
  2. Speaking of ground: this year’s bill allocates eight times more subsidies to commodity crop farms than specialty crop farms. What’s the big deal? Farmers of so-called specialty crops, which include fruit, vegetables, and nuts, lose out while farmers of commodity crops - corn, rice, cotton, and soy - reap billions of dollars in government funds. Given that commodity are the basic building blocks for junk food, this is likely to stretch wallets of those who shop the produce aisle and the waistlines of those who don’t.
  3. Now you see it, now you don’t: Under tremendous pressure to cut costs, policy makers slashed the direct payment program which represented a projected $40.8 billion dollars in subsidies. That sounds impressive - except for the fact that $27.2 billion of those dollars found their way back into the bill in the form of “insurance” against falling prices. That means more money in the troughs of Big Ag and precious little leftover for the kinds of small, organic farms we support.
  4. Don’t look so sad: Conservationists are celebrating new rules that will link federal financial support to compliance with protocols that protect the land. “We are particularly pleased that the final bill includes a critical provision to prevent soil erosion and conserve our nation’s priceless wetlands, both of which will protect water quality for people and wildlife,” said Julie Sibbing of the National Wildlife Federation.

Want to dig a bit deeper? Here's a link to a comprehensive overview of the 2014 Farm Bill. If you're eager to read the whole thing for yourself, be our guest - you can find the full text of the bill here

Beyond the Kitchen: A Chat with Randi Zinn

We were introduced to Randi Zinn by one of our favorite entrepreneurial Mamas, so we weren't surprised to discover that she radiates good vibes. After our chat with her, there's no question that Randi is the expert we'll turn to for compassionate wisdom about how to embrace motherhood in the midst of this crazy, beautiful city. If she's a kindred spirit, let her introduce you to a few more at her Beyond Mom Mixer on Feb. 6th. 

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What’s the most exciting thing about your business?
There is an electric feeling that happens when women who love what they do come together and motivate one another. It’s tangible and it makes us feel alive! I love sharing stories about motherhood and the search for meaning - whether it’s stories about how we take care of our physical health, our mental/spiritual wellbeing, or the development of our passions and businesses. We are powerhouses, as Mamas, we simply need the support of our community to stay focused and energized. Providing that kind of connection through my content and events is for me the most exciting part. If this is ringing a bell for any of you out there, don’t miss my upcoming event on February 6th – it’s going to be super connective and inspiring!

What’s your philosophy on food?
There are so many labels on food philosophy and I can’t say I fit into one. I may be more Ayurveydic than anything else. I believe in eating what is “In Season” – local farmer's markets will inform you whether it’s time to eat tomatoes and berries or whether its time to eat squash and potatoes. I try to feed my family with that in mind. Going another step deeper, I do eat meat and dairy so I make sure it’s as organic and local as possible - not only do I believe in this philosophically, but I can literally taste the difference. I also truly believe in family home cooked meals! It can be so hard to find the time to not only prepare it but also to sit down and enjoy it. But I make it happen. Even if it’s one or two meals a week, it’s so grounding to eat the same food with the people you love most.

What’s your go-to meal? 
I have many but I’m going to share a new favorite of mine- it was created by my Mom this past summer as she picked a giant zucchini from our garden and determined what to do with it! I call it Zucchini Pizza because in concept it is a “Pizza” and this word alone makes my two year old very excited to eat it. Here is the recipe:

Zucchini Pizza

1 large zucchini
Olive oil
Cherry tomatoes
Whole wheat or gluten free bread crumbs
Sliced cheese - mozzarella or Meunster are my favorites
Dried Italian spices - oregano, basil, garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the zucchini in half and scoop out some of the seeds so you have a little space to place other ingredients. Lay the zucchini in a baking pan (preferably on a little rack so it doesn’t glue to the bottom) and drizzle it with olive oil. Cut cherry tomatoes into small pieces and place inside the zucchini. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Italian spices as well as salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for between 45 minutes to an hour. Check it to see that it’s well cooked. Right before you’re ready to serve, place sliced cheese along the top and allow it to melt.

Serve with Rice or Pasta.

Delicious, easy and toddler friendly!