Thursday, October 7, 2010

Food Task Force

Last night in Los Angeles, an amazing thing happened. It has actually been in the works for about 30 years. As the host of Real Food Empire, I was honored to be part of the press for the unveiling of Good Food For All, a joint project of Roots of Change and the Los Angeles Food Policy Task Force. Roots of Change is a non-profit educational and legislative organization dedicated to creating a sustainable agricultural and food system here in the Golden State.The Vision of Roots of Change is "California's food system will become sustainable and lift the fortunes of the food industry, demonstrate the highest standards of stewardship, create pride of place, offer meaningful opportunities for workers in the industry and accelerate world wide demand for health and quality in everyday living." Now that's a vision I share! The Food Policy Task Force was brought together by Mayor Villaraigosa, in partnership with many individuals and organizations to work with Roots of Change to create the Good Food For All Agenda.

The basic recommendations include
1> Promoting a Good Food Economy
Build a Market For Good Food
Eliminate Hunger in Los Angeles
Ensure Equal Access to Good Food in Undeserved Communities
Grow Good Food in our Neighborhoods
Inspire and Mobilize Good Food Champions
Establish a Los Angeles Regional Food Policy Council

These lofty goals will be met with a collaboration between health care providers, city government, farmers, chefs, schools, public gardens, farmers markets and cooking classes.

When I was visiting the numerous non profit booths, the main question I heard, was "what are they doing out in the Inland Empire." Well, we are doing a lot, but it is my dream to have a similar agenda for the Inland Empire. We are after all part of the diverse and delicious "food shed" of Southern California. We are the jewel and we need to have good food for all. Good Food, means healthy affordable, fair and sustainable, available for all. The San Bernardino Farmers Market is the first certified farmers market to honor EBT machines in the Inland Empire. It is my hope to inspire and connect with those who would like to bring more "good food" to the Inland Empire.

Let me know if you are interested!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sustainable IE

When I finished Naturopathic School, I accepted a job with a "holistic psychologist" who wanted me to take over the nutritional aspect of her practice. After I planned to relocate to her Virginia office, she decided to move to Germany and asked me if I was still interested. As a graduate of German Lutheran middle and high school, my Deutsch was passable, but I was young and the prospect of living in Europe was too good to pass up. Long story short, I found out she and her network were part of the neo-faciest ilk, quite adept and articulate when it came to denying the Holocaust. Needless to say, after many arguments and much soul searching, I basically stole her car for an afternoon, moved my stuff to an international shipping company, returned the car and handed in my resignation. During one of our heated arguments, I told her, "It's not like I want the Holocaust to be true, it would be really great if it were a hoax, but I have friends with tattoos on their arms from their time at a concentration camp." She of course replied that God just told her I was not advanced enough in my spirituality to understand, and that she was not allowed to talk to me anymore. I now think she has a great future in conservative talk radio.

As I have gotten older, I have learned much from that experience, which is giving me a context as to how to understand some trends we are witnessing now. What I learned is the main reason for a push to deny the Holocaust  by certain political groups is marketing. How can you sell Fascism and right wing oppression when it's greatest accomplishment was the slaughter of six million Jews and millions of other social undesirables and opponents of the regime? You have to deny it so you can push your political agenda, because well, concentration camps are such a downer, few wish to plug into a movement that promotes them.

A great way to keep up with  trends these days is to read the back pages of the newspaper. Some seemingly un-related events that have been cropping up after page 9: Kimchi Crisis in South Korea, Aftermath of the Floods in Pakistan, Bigger River Flows. How does Kimchi in Korea relate to Floods in Pakistan and larger amounts of fresh water flowing into the oceans? Unusual weather patterns that the White House now wants to call "Global Climate Disruption." For the rest of us, we call this Global Warming. Apparently, there has been an unusual amount of rain fall in Korea spoiling the cabbage crop,  causing hoarding of the beloved Kimchi.  Scientists from UCI state that all of this is  an indication of acceleration of the global water cycle of evaporation and rainfall. This accelleration  influences the intensity of storms, floods and droughts which is straining  global food systems. We can see and feel it here in the Inland Empire. Our Forests in our local mountains are suffering terribly, and it is anyone's guess as to what the current year will bring in terms of rainfall. Some scientists say El Nino, others La Nina, I say, who-knows-nada.

And yet there are many who say that such changes in a relatively short amount of time are not really happening. In fact, they get millions of dollars each year to spew their doubt through think tanks, conservative media outlets and political action committees. There is even a California ballot initiative to halt the excellent legislation pushed by our current Govenor to curb the many chemicals that have contributed to this global drama unfolding before us, all in the name of "jobs." The mantra of the pundits and certain political camps is that all we have to do is stop regulations, then rich people will create more jobs and we can all go shopping again.

Well, the so called America that so many fervent political activists want "back" can not be sustained, it only existed at great cost to our future. The entire American economy since colonial times was built on boom and bust, and with out resources, there is no economy, no rich, no nothing really. Which brings me back to my German experience. I understand why so many want to deny Global Warming, they are like my former employer and her network. The oil based economy created a lot of power and prosperity for many, but at a great cost to human health and economic disparity for a large portion of our local and global population. When we see the devistation that comes with an oil based economy, the death of an entire ocean in the Gulf of Mexico, the wars that are being fought to secure access, the collateral damage and our maimed veterans, the instability of our economic system, the destruction of our air and land, the change in the global climate, and even the shortage of Kimchi in Korea, well the old ways of an oil based economy are a hard sell. An Oil based food system is also very unstable, when we have to truck in food from thousands of miles away, we are at the mercy of the oil companies and all that comes along with that. Better to deny the problem, blame environmentalists for killing the economy, legislate away solutions that in the end would actually create long term stability and sustained economic prosperity for all. (These solutions that certain political parties want to legislate away can actually make some people rich in the process, but you know those pesky facts, some people just want the old ways to stay regardless the cost.)

We are living in a time of great upheaval, but the prospects for the future can be quite bright,  the solutions are actually delicious and fun. It all starts with what you put into your mouth for nourishment. Local foods save energy, reduce the amount of petroleum needed, taste better and have more nutrition. When they are organically produced, the effect is even greater. Nearly 60 percent of green house emmissions are from an industrial agricultural system. The simple act of growing a garden, container, table top or otherwise can profoundly effect your own health and the health of your community as well as the globe. Shop Farmers Markets, get to know your food producers, dine at Restaurants who feature local and seasonal menu's, grow something.

Where to start? More is coming in terms of my website, but a great way to start is with the Growcology Learning Center in Riverside. Riverside is part of the Emerald City Project, encouraging cities to be the models of sustainability. Check out and for community, classes and tips on how to re-create our beautiful verdant green San Bernardino Valley for our future generations. The America I want, is an America where every person gets a chance to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat healthy food, and have jobs that contribute to the betterment of our great nation as a whole. This is the California I want, as well as the Inland Empire I want. I do not want "back" an economy that is only good for a couple of years, that is dependent on hurting the land and people in order to grow. I do not want more smog, more boom and bust, more uncertainty.

It is time to stop denying the problem, and wake up to a delicious, clean healthy future.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sustainable Food

There is so much going on these days regarding food. I had a delightful coffee meeting with a well known food critic here in the Inland Empire who was enthusiastically telling me about restaurant I should include in my show. At the risk of sounding elitist I shared with him that the restaurant that he was encouraging me to feature was wonderful, but not sustainable. This word sustainable has quite a buzz these days. There are many ways to consider it, but how I view sustainable is a behavior or endeavor that can go the distance as they say when it comes to longevity. Not only will it be a long lived initiative, but does so in a way that does not harm the earth, exhaust resources, is renewable and is kind and just to the people involved. So how is a restaurant sustainable? Is the cuisine made from locally grown, seasonal and organic produce? Are the animals and fish featured on the menu humanely grown and harvested? And does all of this matter?

On Real Food Empire, I strive to make the connection between what we eat, our health, the health of our communities and the land that supports us. There is much controversy over laws and legislation regarding the health of our environment. Some interests say that environmental and humane laws are too expensive and will kill jobs. A recent report from the Organic Center talked about how many of the common pesticides used on conventional crops actually put the human body into a sate of pre-diabetes, by disrupting the hormones that regulate sugar and insulin metabolism. We also have a new study stating that air pollution is linked to diabetes. Animals that are grown in crowded feces riddled pens carry antibiotic resistant diseases.

Industrial Agriculture accounts for nearly two thirds of all green house gas emissions, and incorporates hundreds of tons of pesticides per year. Such emissions are know known to be linked to diabetes. Pesticides are linked linked to diabetes, this disease is being touted as the great threat of our age and may bankrupt our health system. We also know that when food items are produced locally, 45 cents of every dollar remains in the  local economy, compared with the 15 cents for items produced at a great distance. So, does buying a supper at a place where they feature only organic and locally grown produce and animal products? Actually it does. It keeps the money in the local system, reduces exposure to the chemicals that we now know are related to ill health and high medical expenditures. It also actually tastes better. So while some chains and independent restaurants may have nice menus, Real Food Empire will not disparage them, but the show wants to encourage listeners to patronize establishments that help on all levels. The good news is that here in the Inland Empire, we have many delicious choices from Farmers Markets to Restaurants to Vinyards and Breweries where we can spend our money, fill our tummies, delight our palates and support our communities with out hurting the land, water or air we depend on for life.

When you vote with your fork and food dollars, you make a difference in our world, your own health and the health of others. It is a fact!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Eat Local Challenge

Hi Folks,

I hope you had a great week! Sunday September 19 was a big day here in the Real Food Empire. Chef John Rose and Regional Manager Brett Martin of Bon Appetite Catering Company were my guests. We were focusing on the upcoming Eat Local Challenge that all members of this national catering company will participate in on September 28. At the University of Redlands, we have an award winning program that is quite inspiring. When I first heard about the challenge from Chef Rose last Summer, he showed me his file folder which was quite thick with references and research on regional food producers and farmers. The one thing that he talked about last Summer that really struck me was how there was quite the disconnect between demand for local products and producers to fill such demands. Chef Rose said there was lots of availability, but often the farmers lacked the ability to get their products to market. They relied on the middle man, who took most of the profit, leaving the farmer often having to take a second job just to support his family so they could continue to farm. Here in the IE, we had quite the reputation for Agriculture, particularly diary, poultry and beef farms. One of the great challenges farmers face is the fluctuating price they can get for their products. Often, prices are set the year before, and the weather can destroy any well made plans for the following harvest. We have watched many a small family farm shut down or sell off to larger factory interests because they can not compete. There was an interesting article in a recent LA Times, stating that many large speculators are buying up farm land, seeing the value in "the soil." Problem is, these interests can often be very distant and often foreign interests, who are only looking at the economic outcome regardless of the cost to the community, the environment or human health. Farm land is very important to the health of the community. It is inspiring to see large corporate entities like Bon Appetite creating the culture of supporting our local health and economy by creating the Eat Local Challenge. It is a delicious example of how we can eat for the health of our bodies, our souls, the land and communities. I hope you can listen to the show, you can go to and download the podcast for September 19,  2010 and see what is going on here in your own back yard!

Stephanie Georgieff

Monday, September 13, 2010

Welcome to Our World

Hi All,

Well as I am sure you have noticed, I am a neo-luddite par excellance. I hope to have the blog looking very theme soon. The show has been a success, and I am slowly making into what I had envisioned. This is a bit of background on the inspiration for the program. As you have surmised, I am really a Slow Food enthusiast. This international movement was started 20 years ago in Italy as a response to the building of the first fast food restaurant in Rome. Since then it has spread to over 150 countries with the message of eating for the good of planet, people and tummy. This movement is active in Southern California with chapters spanning the desert, cities, mountains and coasts.

Here in the Inland Empire we have had quite the ride in terms of Economics and Agriculture in the last 100 years or so. The San Bernardino Valley has been the home to prized fertile lands since the days of the Natives. The original colonists also recognized the value of our incredible sunny weather, pristine water sources from our mountains and fertile soil. As the heart of the Citrus Empire in the West, this valley was the gateway to the rest of the nation for the bounty of our harvest. When the military base was established, the foundations of our agriculturally based economy slowly switched to the base, which brought many new jobs to the area. The subsequent housing boom and building of the 91 freeway, enabled much effort to go towards construction of affordable homes for those willing to commute. To the dismay of many, as a result of this change, our beautiful citrus groves became housing developments, and many small farms could not continue to operate in competition with big agricultural interests in the Central Vally and other locations. With the closing of the base, the collapse of the housing market and the disappearance of many manufacturing jobs in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, the Inland Empire suffered greatly. The good news is that there is quite a renaissance of our Agricultural Roots taking place.

From farms to artisan restaurants, wineries and brewing companies, the Inland Empire is creating a viable and delicious economic base that also is kind to the verdant lands which have sustained us for thousands of years. Many chefs and young farmers are coming to this area, enriching our opportunities not only to delight our senses, but are at the forefront of the organic and local food movements. Real Food Empire  aims to document and celebrate this Renaissance. Our motto, "Exploring the Delicious Journey of Eating for the Health of your Body, your soul, the land and community." says it all. My background as a Naturopathic Physician, Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist, as well as a culinary instructor and basic food lover gives unique perspectives on the sustainable food scene here in the Inland Empire. As a true eclectic woman, I am combining my passion for Slow Food, my background as a natural health practitioner and veteran health and environmental activist all into a delightful journey of discovery through the only real local talk radio station in the Inland Empire.

Eating is the core and primal community event. We never eat in isolation. We eat the product of the earth and her elements, from the efforts of others who produce it and in participation to our economic whole. There are so many issues (economic, health, environmental, political) that have reached crisis locally and globally. But everyone who eats can actually make the most profound influence on the present and future generations. When you eat for the health of your body, your soul, the land and community, each and every bite helps us all.

Tune in each week from 9:00 am to 10:00 am on KCAA 1050 AM for the next chapter in this exploration. Sign up for pod casts and updates, and on our new facebook and twitter for legislative actions, cooking tips, gardening information and restaurant reviews. You can also download podcasts from and go to the Sunday Programs/Real Food Empire. Watch this blog for further updates, and welcome to our DELICIOUS world at Real Food Empire!

Stephanie Georgieff
Host of Real Food Empire