Maybe it’s just the fact that everyone in the country is coping


Maybe it’s just the fact that everyone in the country is coping with an overabundance of late-summer produce, but this week’s food stories are almost all about local foods:

In the New York Times, Kim Severson reports that the USDA’s new “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative (which the Obama Foodorama blog dubs “KYF2”) is giving out $65 million to help small local farmers market their products — through agricultural co-ops, universities, and “farm-to-school tactical teams.” Most of the money will be funneled through the states for school lunch programs, with the suggestion that they use it to purchase local food. Which begs the question: how much weight does a USDA “suggestion” carry?

The Wall Street Journal profiles Woody Tasch, founder of the new Slow Money movement, who’s persuading investors to put money into sustainable, local ag enterprises — and then persuading farmers to accept it. Tasch’s pitch to the money holders: Sure, you may only see 3 percent growth, year over year, but you’ll get dividends you can eat. His pitch to the farmers: If you take our money we won’t take over your business.

As the “Feed our schoolkids local foods” movement ramps up, the Boston Globe profiles a group of students at a high school in Massachusetts who proposed, created, and tended a school garden and greenhouse, serving some of what they grow in the school cafeteria.

Sally Sampson of the Washington Post reverse-engineers fast food classics like the Egg McMuffin and the Whopper for a tasting panel of 8 teenagers. She finds that not only do the kids prefer her versions, but hers are more nutritious and cheaper. Bonus fact: the (real) Whopper is spread with 5 teaspoons of mayonnaise.

For those of you who still daydream about the jamon iberico you gorged on in Spain two years ago, and wish that you’d smuggled more in your suitcase, but are unwilling to spend $80 a pound for the USDA-certified iberico available here, Delish proposes an alternative: Surryano dry-cured ham from Virginia, made with sustainably raised Berkshire pigs. You can buy an entire ham for $165. (Thanks, Chow).

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