Compost regulation in California

Posted below is a really excellent paper that James O’Claire did for the Environmental Studies class at UCLA in Winter 2013. James is a 2013 Asian Languages and Cultures grad currently living in Beijing. The paper captures what a class on experiential learning should be all about: toggling between “fieldwork”–in this case literally building and maintaining a garden–as well as research resources available through the course, and allied resources at UCLA, both textual and human.

Here is James’ basic research question and recommendation. You can download and read the paper below (scroll to the bottom of this post). He finds that, “The most striking aspect of the California compost regulations is that they are solely focused on keeping contaminants out and make no effort to regulate beneficial nutrients.” And he goes on to compare California’s state regulations to two other models, Minnesota and Oregon, and finds that these models both have strengths, including lists of specific definitions for the surprisingly ethereal stuff of compost.

If you find the research useful, it would be great if you could leave a note in the contact form below. It would help us demonstrate the real-world effect this course has, and help establish it permanently on the books. (At present it is a “topics” class, which means it has to be specially approved each year.) Please note that the paper is posted and shared under specific Creative Commons guidelines.

By examining other states’ requirements for composting I seek to understand how the California model compares and what possible ways it could be improved.  Currently, the standards which have been set have no legal consequences for those whose compost is mislabeled which misleads consumers on the quality and nutritional makeup of the composted soil.  California could most benefit from minimum nutrient requirements as well as a more specific ingredients list that includes percentages.

.

o-claire-compost


Combating Food Waste

I participated in Food Forward this weekend, along with Jen, who coordinated the whole thing.  It was really interesting to see how some organization and volunteering can switch up our established food economy and cut back on some of our food waste and hunger problems. Then I came upon this article on Grist: http://grist.org/food/plate-tech-tonics-how-smartphones-can-help-stop-food-waste/  It gives an interesting look at other groups that are redistributing the food economy, like Food Forward. Worth reading!


NAFTA, Mexico, and Corn!

I came across this site during our in-class discussion about the transnational relations between Mexico and the US that have resulted from NAFTA. It focuses especially on corn. The pdf’s at the bottom of the site have a wealth of information. Enjoy!

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/subsidizing-inequality-mexican-corn-policy-nafta-0


Farm to college to table

A worker handles frozen high-end "wagyū" beef, sold through Washington State University. Source: NY Times.

A worker handles frozen high-end “wagyū” beef, sold through Washington State University. Source: NY Times.

Today’s New York Times had an interesting piece, “A University Steak to Go With That Sweatshirt?,” which explored the branding of colleges, and how it is inching into the realm of urban ag.While some colleges and universities have long had CSAs and worked farmers’ markets, there are some new gambits in branding.

…in recent years, food researchers said, a number of trends have coalesced, changing the stakes, and the possibilities, for what a college food brand might be…

The movement for locally sourced food has fueled a growth in student-led agriculture with new or expanded farm-to-table product lines in places like the urban gardens at George Washington University and the Sustainable Student Farm at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Student-run farms supplying dining halls and farmers’ markets have started or expanded at many institutions, including the University of California’s campuses in Davis and Chico. At the same time, the commercial branding of commodities has become an industry norm, from Washington State apples to California avocados.

“Schools are looking for new ways to generate revenue, but there is more entrepreneurial thinking in colleges and universities than ever before, too,” said Brian Wansink, a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell and the director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

Professor Wansink has studied what he calls “food halos.” That is the aura or glow that a compelling story or some connotation of health, social consciousness or environmentalism can bestow on a product. Colleges, he said, with nostalgic allegiances going back generations and educational missions that go beyond the profit motive, can often grab halos while only half trying.

“Anything like a university brand meat has an incredible halo,” he said.


Upcoming Food & Ag Event By Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

This event has been put up on the E3 Faccbook Page and looks quite interesting.  Here is the description:

 

New Agtivists: Young Visionaries in Agriculture and Artisinal Food Production

The 2013 Santa Monica Farmers Market Panel Discussion Series, featuring chefs and farmers, kicks off with Nate Peitso from Maggie’s Farm, Nate Siemens from Fat Uncle Farm, Matt Parker from Shiitake Happens, and Paul Osher from Bean & Thyme. Moderated by Rose Lawrence from Red Bread.
The event is at the Santa Monica Public Library this Thursday at 7PM.
Facebook Event Page Here