Supporting Our Neighbors Affected by the Wildfires

November 15th, 2018

11.15.18 — Hundreds of thousands of people across Southern California are being impacted by the Woolsey and Hill Fires. Read on for resources and ways you can support those affected by these devastating wildfires.

Volunteers with Bakers Kneaded (including our friends Michelle Lainez and Clemence Gossett) prepare sandwiches for first responders. Photo from Tehachapi Grain Project on Instagram.

 

It feels like 2017 all over again with the fierce Santa Ana winds and fires burning rapidly through our woodlands. The Hill and Woolsey Fires started on November 7 and, to date, have burned approximately 102,500 acres, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and threatening thousands of homes and structures. Nearly everyone in our region has been affected directly or indirectly in some way, but many people in the Food Forward family have been severely impacted by these wildfires. We keep all of you in our hearts and minds during this trying time.

For real-time emergency information, visit Ventura County Emergency Information.

 

If you can donate:

Before you donate items or money, please do your research. These New York Times and Ventura County Star articles include helpful information about organizations that are working on the frontline of the fire relief and can use your support.

 

If you can help:

The United Methodist Church of Thousand Oaks could use help with their food distribution program. They are helping those affected by the fires as well as their normal clients in need. You can contact them here.

Bakers Kneaded is preparing, packaging, and delivering food to the firefighters on the frontline. Learn more and get involved by visiting them on Instagram. 

World Central Kitchen is looking for volunteers with kitchen experience. Sign up here.

 

If you have resources to share or ways people can help, please email us. Food Forward will have more updates on our efforts to support communities impacted by the fires in the coming week.

1 comment This entry was posted in Food Forward News. Bookmark the permalink.


All About the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act

October 31st, 2018

10.31.18 — Did you know that there are state and federal laws that protect food donations? Read on to find out more about the Good Samaritan Food Donation Acts that encourage food recovery work like ours!

 As a volunteer with Food Forward, you are protected from liability by
the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Glean on! 

What is the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act?

In 1996, Bill Clinton signed the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, a federal law that protects people and organizations who donate food in good faith from liability. The breakdown: when you glean oranges with Food Forward and those get donated to a food pantry, you, Food Forward, and the pantry are protected from civil and criminal liability.

 

Ok, but what exactly does this law do?

The law provides a few key protections: it protects any business or gleaner from civil or criminal liability due to the age, packaging, or condition of wholesome foods or grocery products donated in good faith to a nonprofit organization. In the bill, food is defined as any raw, cooked, processed, or prepared edible substance, ice, beverage, or ingredient…for human consumption,” and grocery product is defined as “a nonfood grocery product, including a disposable paper or plastic product, household cleaning product, [or] laundry detergent.” Both categories of items must be “apparently fit” in order to be covered by these protections, this means that the item must meet federal, state, and local standards for quality and labeling. 

The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act also protects nonprofit organizations who directly distribute this donated food to individuals from civil or criminal liability arising from the quality of the food. These two protections exist as long as there is not “gross negligence” from the individual or nonprofit – meaning the donors knew the food was unfit for consumption but donated it anyway. 

 

Perfectly good lemons, tangerines, and grapefruits, ready to be donated.

If the Federal Law exists, why do we need a California law?

Despite the protections offered by the 1996 legislation, many potential donors were not donating to food banks and other food distribution organizations due to liability concerns. A survey conducted in 2016 found that among restaurants, manufacturers, and retailers, 25-44% cited fears over liability as a top barrier to donating food. In order to encourage more food donations, California legislators and food waste and hunger relief advocates collaborated to simplify and strengthen the existing protections.

In 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, a bill which expands on the state’s existing legal protections for those who donate food. The bill was authored by Assemblymember Eggman and includes the following provisions: it reaffirms the protections from civil and criminal liability outlined in the federal bill, with the additional statement that donations of food fit for consumption which has exceeded its labeled shelf life date are protected by the law. Additionally, the law provides an important change to the Health and Safety Code by requiring health inspection officers to promote recovery and donation of suitable food during inspections. Prior to this clause, no state had ever mandated outreach and education for food donation laws. 

 

 These laws enable our agency partners, such as the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust
(pictured here), to safely distribute fresh fruits and veggies to members of our community.

What this means for Food Forward

These laws are a big part of what makes our work possible, but we don’t take them for granted. Food Forward believes that all people deserve access to fresh, healthy, and delicious fruits and vegetables — so even though we are recovering food that would have normally gone to waste, nothing we donate is actually trash-worthy. In our Backyard Harvest program, our volunteer leaders are trained to pick fruit when it’s ripe to ensure freshness. Our Farmers Market Recovery program receives the extra produce that vendors have left-over, so these fruits and vegetables are market quality. And, our Wholesale Produce Recovery team carefully vets each pallet to make sure we are only taking the best of what we are offered. Our agency partners expect and deserve fresh, high quality produce, and we take pride in ensuring that they receive it.

 

Awesome! What can I do?

Even with these laws in place, so much perfectly good food is wasted every day. Many businesses, organizations, and individuals are afraid of the potential legal risk of donating food, so it ends up in a “safer” place—the trash. But thanks to the federal law and several state laws such as California’s, there’s no reason not to find a better home for all of that perfectly good food. If you know a person or business who could donate their unused produce, prepared food, packaged food, or household products, tell them about the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. You can also share this post on social media to get the word out! Lastly, support our work, come volunteer with us, and be an active member in fighting hunger and food waste in your community.

1 comment This entry was posted in Food Forward News, Food Recovery. Bookmark the permalink.


Celebrating a Food Waste & Hunger Warrior

October 24th, 2018

Our October Volunteer of the Month is Marsha Brown! Marsha is our longest tenured Glean Team Leader at the Torrance Tuesday Farmers Market, having been a leader now for 4 years. Marsha is passionate, reliable, and very committed to helping those who need it most. She is on pace to lead the most events this year for the Farmers Market Recovery program. Marsha is also a frequent volunteer at our Produce Pick-Up events and helps us spread the word about Food Forward as a rockstar Community Ambassador. We are indebted to her for the countless hours spent volunteering with our organization and are in true admiration of her tremendous dedication to fighting hunger and food waste!

 

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
When I retired from a long career at UCLA I wanted to get involved in volunteer work that didn’t involve being in an office. I was having lunch with a friend who happened to be on the Food Forward Board of Directors. She told me about the organization and its mission and I was so impressed I decided to give it a try. Thank you Carol Goldstein!

 

What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
I also heard Rick Nahmias speak in a class at UCLA about food insecurity and Food Forward’s mission of fighting food waste and getting surplus food to people in need. I was inspired by his story of how picking his neighbor’s fruit tree and donating the fruit led to the development of this organization that has now donated over 60 million pounds of food that would otherwise go to waste.

 

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I’m an avid reader, beach bum, and knitaholic.

 

mb

 

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
I’ve met lots of wonderful people, I love the atmosphere of the farmers markets, the colors and smells, and being outdoors.  And it’s gratifying to see all of the produce that would be going to waste make its way to people in need. 

 

How would you describe the volunteer experience at a market?
Casual, easy, and friendly.

 

What was your first volunteer day like?
I don’t really remember — but I liked it and kept coming back!

 

 

Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?
Two things stand out:
I have come to truly appreciate the amount of work it takes to get food from farm to market.  Many of the farmers are up at 3 or 4 am to get to the market when it opens and the second the market closes they are packed up and ready to hit the road and do it again the next day. They are all kind and generous with their donations and they love sharing ideas of how to prepare the food.

When I volunteer at the MudTown Farmers Market in Watts I see the truckloads of produce that would otherwise get thrown away. It is hard to imagine until you see it.  It does take some work to sort and distribute but it’s so worth it to see that food not going to waste and feel the gratitude of the people who receive it.


Any words of wisdom you live by?
“You are what you are and you ain’t what you ain’t” (John Prine)

 

1 comment This entry was posted in Volunteer of the Month. Bookmark the permalink.


The Growing Presence of Hunger on Campus

October 9th, 2018

10.9.18 – The familiar trope of a college student eating ramen while pulling an all-nighter reveals a troubling truth – around 40% of students cannot afford enough healthy food. These students often have to make difficult decisions, like whether to pay for tuition or groceries.   

cropStudents at UCLA take home produce gleaned by Food Forward volunteers

 

What’s the issue?

On college campuses across the country, a growing number of students are unable to afford the quantity and quality of food they need to be healthy and succeed academically. According to numerous studies, about 40% of students qualify as food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to enough affordable and nutritious food.¹ This number is striking, especially when compared with the 12.5% of the general population who are food insecure.² Food insecurity among college students is often overlooked because people assume that being a “broke college student” is a rite of passage. However, lack of access to quality food is a serious issue for college students and one we should pay more attention to.

 

Who has the highest risk of experiencing food insecurity in college?

According to Feeding America’s 2014 Hunger in America report, around two million of its 46.5 million adult clients are full-time college students.³ Contrary to popular stereotypes, most food insecure students are working, receiving financial aid, and many are enrolled in meal plans.⁴ Penn State reported that those most at risk of being food insecure in college included students of color, students who experienced childhood food insecurity, lower-income students, students receiving financial aid, employed students, students without access to vehicles, financially independent students, and first-generation college students.⁵ And with the rising costs of tuition, books, and housing, more and more students are facing food insecurity.

 

26903347732_b30f18895a_oBurdened by the rising costs of tuition, books, and housing, many students cannot afford enough nutritious food (photo by John Vande Weg and Taya Kendall)

Those most at risk of being food insecure in college included students of color, students who experienced childhood food insecurity, lower-income students, students receiving financial aid, employed students, students without access to vehicles, financially independent students, and first-generation college students.

How does food insecurity affect the lives of college students?

Students are supposed to be worried about their final exams or their post-grad plans – not whether or not they can afford to buy food. Being food insecure impacts students in many ways, adding stress onto their busy schedules and negatively affecting their mental health and ability to focus.

In order to cope with food insecurity, students have reported skipping meals, purchasing inexpensive processed foods, asking family or friends for money, stretching food to make it last longer, working at least one part-time job, and making trade-offs between food and other basic necessities. As tuition and other costs of university study go up, students are increasingly making the hard decision to financially support their studies over their well-being, as nutrition simply becomes an “unaffordable luxury”.⁶

Aside from not regularly consuming three meals a day, food insecurity in students is also linked with disordered eating behaviors. In addition, food insecure students often have increased levels of stress, poorer levels of sleep quality, poorer physical and mental health status, and experience more headaches. Academically, they often have difficulty studying, lower grade-point-averages, and higher rates of failed courses and withdrawing from college altogether.⁷ One student articulated this relationship perfectly when she said, “Trying to do homework when you haven’t eaten for the past seventy hours is not going to happen.”⁸

 

screen-shot-2018-10-05-at-3-46-40-pmFood pantries, food recovery programs, and dining hall donations are all ways campuses can provide equitable access and reduce food waste

 

What can you do?

If you are: a student experiencing food insecurity in the United States at this very moment, find your nearest food bank through Feeding America or FoodPantries.org. There are also popular programs that specifically cater to college students, such as Swipe Out Hunger or The Campus Kitchens Project.⁹

If you are: looking to improve food security on your campus, some solutions that have worked for universities include introducing on-campus SNAP retailers, campus food pantries, food recovery programs, dining center meal donations, campus community gardens, and campus farmers markets.

If you are: a policy maker or voter, you can help fight college food insecurity by getting state and university governments to collaborate on meal plan scholarships for low-income students to address hunger discreetly. In addition, supporting and passing laws that support donations of produce or leftover food will continue the fight against food insecurity.

And anyone can volunteer with Food Forward and donate to support our work! Currently, we donate produce to several campuses and college programs in the LA area, including Rio Hondo College, Santa Monica College Students Feeding Students, Los Angeles Valley College, Swipe Out Hunger at UCLA, Harbor College, Los Angeles City College, Cal State University Northridge, and Cal State Long Beach. Your involvement helps us get fresh produce to these students, which means they have more time and energy to focus on their futures.

 

1 Dubick, James, et al. “Hunger on Campus.” College and University Food Bank Alliance, 2016, pp. 1–47, Hunger on Campus; Diamond, Kate & Stebleton, Michael J. “Do You Understand What It Means to be Hungry? Food Insecurity on Campus and the Role of Higher Education Professionals.” The Mentor, Penn State, 11 April 2017, https://dus.psu.edu/mentor/2017/04/do-you-understand-what-it-means-to-be-hungry-food-insecurity-on-campus-and-the-role-of-higher-education-professionals 2 “What Is Food Insecurity in America?” Feeding America. https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/understand-food-insecurity 3 Yavorski, Kimberly. “The College Students Who Are Starving in Silence.” Pacific Standard, Pacific Standard, 6 July 2017, psmag.com/education/college-students-starving-in-silence. 4 Tomar, David, et al. “Hungry To Learn: Food Insecurity Spreads On Campus.” The Best Schools, TheBestSchools.org, 2018, thebestschools.org/magazine/hungry-to-learn-food-insecurity-spreads-on-campus. 5 Diamond, Kate & Stebleton, Michael J. 6 Dubick, James, et al. 7 Ibid. 8 Diamond, Kate & Stebleton, Michael J. 9 “Resource Library.” Challah for Hunger, Challah for Hunger, 2018, challahforhunger.org/resourcelibrary/. 

0 comments This entry was posted in Food Insecurity. Bookmark the permalink.


We purchase a third truck for the Wholesale Recovery Program

October 1st, 2018

This program is recovering over 375,000 pounds of fresh produce each week!

0 comments This entry was posted in 10 Year Anniversary. Bookmark the permalink.


A Volunteer We Can Always Count On

September 28th, 2018

Meet our Volunteer of the Month for September, Mike Yankauskas! Mike is a Pick Leader with our Backyard Harvest Program who is hard working, dedicated, funny, and just a genuinely great person. He goes above and beyond each time he leads a harvest and we can always count on him to fill in if we are in a pinch. We’re a better team because of his efforts and are grateful he volunteers with us. Thanks, Mike!
my1

 

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
After a shocking turn of events during the 2016 election, my wife and I attended a community outreach gathering looking for some way to get more involved. FF was one of the organizations mentioned and sounded like something we’d be interested in.

 

What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
Getting outside and working with my hands was appealing. Learning how much food waste is occurring and seeing how directly the work goes to good got me hooked.

 

my2

 

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?

I work as an Accountant and outside of that, I do a fair amount of reading, playing softball, puzzles, hiking, and traveling

 

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
I really enjoy the large harvests where a group of strangers can instantly band together to harvest thousands of pounds of fruit to help those in need.

 

How would you describe the volunteer experience at a harvest?
It’s very satisfying to walk up to a tree full of fruit that would normally go to waste and walk away from it with full boxes that will go a local organization.

 

What was your first volunteer day like?
Very eye opening. We drove up to an orchard in Ventura and were shocked to see the rows and rows of grapefruit and orange trees just sitting there. I wanted to stay all day and pick the fruit so it wouldn’t go to waste

 

What have you learned from volunteering?
How much more satisfying work is when it helps someone else.

 

Any words of wisdom you live by?
Do or do not, there is no try.

my3

1 comment This entry was posted in Volunteer of the Month. Bookmark the permalink.


Harvest Change with Smog City’s Laurie Porter

September 25th, 2018

9.25.18 — As part of Food Forward’s 2nd Annual #HarvestChange initiative, Smog City created a Danny’s Cream Ale, brewed with fresh sweet corn. You’d be amazed at the number of ways Smog City works to reduce waste all year long — through supporting Food Forward and their own many sustainability initiatives. We chatted with owner and Food Forward Culinary Advisory Board member Laurie Porter about what inspires her to Harvest Change every day.

ek8a8310Smog City’s Laurie Porter (right) pictured with some of our wonderful kumquat donors!

 

Smog City is harvesting change this month with a super-special cream corn ale. What makes this ale such a great way to enjoy corn? What kind of beer drinkers will enjoy this beer most?

Our Danny’s Cream Ale is a fun take on traditional cream ales which usually use processed corn in the brew. We grilled fresh sweet white corn and used the complex starches and and robust caramelized sugars to yield a more silky and full mouthfeel. Additionally, the fresh corn character blends nicely with the cream ale base.

Despite the challenging brew and production process that this beer required, this is an extremely approachable beer for both new beer drinkers and seasoned beer drinkers. I’d also like to add that there was only a small amount of this beer made so it is available only during our “Pints with Purpose with Food Forward” events at the taproom in Torrance on Thursdays in September.

 

screen-shot-2018-09-19-at-4-36-27-pmSmog City’s Danny Quinonez transforms charred sweet corn into a golden, frothy brew!

 

You’ve supported Food Forward in so many ways over the years. From our partnership Kumquat Saison (which just medaled at the Great American Beer Fest this month!) and annual Spring Melts to Harvest Change and 1% for the Planet, it’s hard to keep track! What excites you most about the idea of harvesting food, fighting hunger, and building community with Food Forward?

Working with Food Forward over the last 4 years has yielded so many wonderful experiences for myself and our Smog City team. Harvesting fruit, reducing waste, and directly impacting our community is something truly tangible, you can see the results of your investment in real time and that keeps you motivated. It feels good. It’s is incredibly satisfying to take fruit that would otherwise have gone to waste, turn it into our award winning Kumquat Saison and convert that into community activism. It tastes good and it does good, that’s a perfect partnership from my vantage.

 

ek8a6301-smSmog City makes and sells a partnership beer with Food Forward all year long! A behind the scenes look at Kumquat Saison.

 

Smog City is a role model for other craft breweries, and other businesses alike, in putting sustainability first. Supporting Food Forward is just one part of your larger efforts to to build a better sustainable world! What are some other cool things that Smog City does to “harvest change” all year long?

Since my husband and I started Smog City we’ve been focused on reducing waste, giving back and using our business to be proactive in our community and on the environment. We hope these small acts of activism will resonate and inspire others to do more and give more. Since we opened Smog 7 years ago, we believe that our responsibility as a small business is in quality of our product, the happiness of our team and to support the communities in our backyard.

With that said, Smog City took our environmental activism to the next level in 2017 by partnering with 1% for the Planet, an organization that partners businesses with environmentally conscious non-profits. This partnership has allowed Smog City to expand our impact to more organizations in our community. One way we give back is through our monthly partnerships with organizations like The Bay Foundation, Aquarium of the Pacific, Marine Mammal Rescue and of course, Food Forward. We host weekly fundraisers at our taproom on Thursdays between 3-10pm in an attempt to bring a unique experience to our customers while educating them on how they can also have a positive impact on the environment. I think it’s important that we are not complacent and that we empower others to make positive decisions that will impact future generations.

Besides our partnership with Food Forward and 1%, Smog City has a paid recycling program, we donate our spent grain to a local farmer for feed at no cost to him and no additional burden on our landfills and we recently installed an energy turbine that will allow us to reduce our use of gas and electricity among other things. These are all small measures but together they lead to a greater movement. One that says, We are growing a great company and at the same time having a positive impact on our community and environment and that’s how it should be.

Visit Smog City Brewery and Taproom!
We’re open 7 days a week. We also have a second taproom in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach called SteelCraft LB where we serve our award winning craft beers and guest wines! Both locations offer great community experiences and an opportunity to get to know the people behind the beer.

Smog City Brewery and Taproom
1901 Del Amo Blvd Torrance 90501
P:310-320-7664

Smog City at SteelCraft
3768 Long Beach Blvd
Long Beach 90807
P: 562-269-0531

Or follow us on instagram @smogcitybeer

 

READ MORE ABOUT HARVEST CHANGE 

ek8a3426Kumquat Saison in process at Smog City’s Torrance brewery.

0 comments This entry was posted in Food Forward News. Bookmark the permalink.


From Mar Vista to New Life Society

September 11th, 2018

9.11.18 — In our newest Farm to Table blog post, intern Joyce Liu highlights New Life Society, an organization that receives fresh produce from the Mar Vista Farmers Market for a mobile food pantry in Leimert Park.

new-life-1

The beautiful spring of Southern California brightened up the Sunday Mar Vista Farmers Market with fresh greens, citrus, apples, and some early cherries. The wonderful smell of warm bread and fruit met in the air, wafting into people’s nostrils and refreshing their minds.

“Excuse me, would you like to donate anything today?” Near the end of the market, a group of volunteers from Food Forward gleaned produce from vendors that would otherwise go to waste and distributed it to local hunger-relief agencies. Food Forward’s Farmers Market Recovery Program has recovered 2,400,791 pounds of produce from 24 farmers’ markets throughout the Los Angeles and Ventura, the equivalent of 9,603,164 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables.

new-life-2

Some of this gleaned produce went to an organization called New Life Society that distributes food and offers life counseling. When I met Yogita at the market, the person who runs their local chapter, she was busy sorting items from the donations for immediate distribution in the afternoon. With a friendly smile and cheerful voice, she invited me for a site visit to her mobile food pantry located in Leimert Park.

“I began to do this a few years ago when I came to study film in LA and inherited New Life Society from Millie Mims. Traditionally, we believe in the healing power of food.” Yogita stood by the side of her display of Food Forward boxes, speaking while waiting for people to pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables. She was drawn to New Life Society through compassion and drive for justice. “A lot of people in the neighborhood are struggling with their lives and this is partly due to a negative fostering environment. Many of them end up homeless, addicted to the drugs, and fail to sustain their life.”

Besides making films and feeding those in need, she has also been active in advocating for a better livelihood for the homeless at community councils. “But nothing happened,” she bemoaned, “so I figured: ‘if you want to do something good, just go ahead and do it.’” Her courage and perseverance pushed her to achieve her dream of building a sustainable community by making healthy food choices more accessible.

new-life-3

Edifying through Ndyuka Wapishana and American culture, she used her rich knowledge about food to develop natural remedies and great recipes to share among the neighborhood. While the bulky orange branches in a box stumped everyone who saw them, Yogita saw the value. Instead of throwing them away in the compost, she advised a mother to boil the leaves and drink the tea to treat mucous. Yogita was also innovative in creating some combinations of food to “give some flavors” (e.g. hummus with some greens and nasturtium), which she considered crucial in making any healthy dish favorable. I asked what her secret was in was creating these recipes. She smiled and said: “Well, I got a lot of inspiration from my mom. If you are fighting too much, you are probably eating the wrong food.”

Throughout my interview with Yogita, there were warm greetings, hugs, and lovely chats between her and the people who came to pick up food. From my point of view, they were more like friends than merely clients.

In envisioning the future of New Life Society, Yogita is looking to create more inclusive and established programs beyond their food pantry services. She is hunting for better housing to accommodate the recipients of the gleaned produce as well as the potential volunteers. Besides the current location in Crenshaw, she is also working with an adult day care center and organizing a few vegan cooking nights. Despite the current difficulties, she was positive about the future: “ I have people like you who come visit and help from time to time. I can handle things well for now, but I will need more volunteers in the future when I get the house.”

Food fulfills our stomach. More importantly, it is the medium to communicate with hungry souls in hopes of offering them a sustainable life solution. It was great to shadow Yogita from New Life Society—from the food donation, to natural remedies, to individual livelihood and community development. She is grateful for the partnership with Food Forward, which supports the foundation of her work in food justice, and she hopes for further collaboration opportunities in the future.

By Joyce Liu, Food Forward intern

new-life-4

1 comment This entry was posted in Faces of Food Forward, Food Insecurity, Food Recovery. Bookmark the permalink.


Harvesting Change with Preux & Proper’s Sammy Monsour

September 4th, 2018

9.4.18 — As part of Food Forward’s 2nd Annual #HarvestChange initiative, Preux & Proper will contribute $1 for each Grilled Yellow Sweet Corn Salad. We chatted with activist, author, and Preux & Proper chef/partner Sammy Monsour about what inspires him to Harvest Change.

unspecified-12-34-47-pmPreux & Proper’s Sammy Monsour.

 

Food Forward chose to highlight corn for this year’s Harvest Change because it’s so emblematic of this time of year. It’s also a staple in your cuisine. What makes your Grilled Yellow Sweet Corn Salad such a perfect way to enjoy corn?

Nothing feels more like end of Summer / early Autumn to me than corn on the cob, especially off the grill. Growing up, my Lebanese grandmother grew corn—amongst other delicious veggies—in our backyard garden, so I’ve been in love with corn harvest season since childhood. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with many cuisines and cultures, Mexican being one of them, and our grilled yellow sweet corn is a reflection of that. It’s a riff off LA street corn, made with smoky miso aioli, queso fresco, scallion, aleppo chile and our crispy pork cracklins.

In many ways, this dish represent the food I Iove to eat, cook and serve. Simple and rustic plates that are served family style and loaded with flavor. My cuisine mixes my fondest memories of life and eating while encompassing the many cultures and peoples I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from. Sourcing sustainably and cooking from scratch with love, care and integrity are the foundation of what we do at both Preux & Proper and South City Fried Chicken.

*

We benefit from a year-round growing season here in Southern California, but there’s something really special about produce this time of year, too. What’s your favorite thing going on at the market right now?

Corn, tomatoes, peaches and figs! We’re in a 6-8 week period of perfection for these tasty treats! There’s nothing more perfect to me than a perfectly ripe and sweet ear of corn, heirloom tomato, yellow peach or brown turkey fig. They can be enjoyed in simple preparation or featured in the most elegant of preparations, and in both sweet and savory applications. The sky’s the limit!

*

Supporting Food Forward is just one part of your larger efforts to to build a better world — to harvest change — through the food you serve. What role do you believe that you, and your partner Joshua, have in sharing that ethos with the public?

For starters, whether our guests are aware of our sustainable practices or not, everyone that dines with us is supporting our mission, and ultimately supporting a better food system and a healthier community. I think that’s really cool!

We also take the responsibility of community work very seriously and join forces with many outstanding and inspiring organizations year round, including Chefs Collaborative, Seafood Watch, LA Kitchen, LA Food Council Policy, Share Our Strength, Slow Food, and of course, Food Forward.

We host annual fundraisers at Preux & Proper, organize and plan symposiums on the topics of community, sustainability and the advancement of our food system, and partner with several organizations to utilize Preux & Proper as an intern site for folks both young and old who are looking to gain a skill-set and start a new, more positive life. As just a couple of guys working hard and living our dreams, we the “ah ha” moment together and realized that “we made it,” and that even though we still have so much more we want to achieve together, we’re in a position where its officially our responsibility to be a part of the greater good.

 

2018-08-29Preux & Proper’s best-selling Grilled Yellow Sweet Corn Salad helps Food Forward
donate 11 pounds of produce to those in need. (Credit: Top Foodie Faves)

 

Sourcing all this good stuff is seriously hard work. What advice would you share with a young chef or restaurateur who’s still starting out, but wants to make responsible choices in their work?

Start with one thing that you’re passionate about and let yourself go down that rabbit hole. Ask questions. Do thorough research. Donate your time at food based charity events and network with folks you admire and want to learn from. It’s very overwhelming at times, because the subject of sustainability is so vast, but don’t let that discourage you.

As we rapidly approach a massive population increase, and the effects of global warming are evident through climate change, we’re heading into a future that is either very bright or very dim. Stay positive. There’s a LOT of people working toward making tomorrow better and they need your help. The world is changing “over night” and there’s great demand for innovation. It all starts with understanding simple concepts like seed saving, regenerative farming, sustainable aquaculture, waste reduction and energy efficiency, to name a few. I hope that makes sense.

I also try to source at least one really cool and new sustainable ingredient a week. It makes me feel like I’m moving forward no matter what else is going on around me. I’m no expert and am constantly challenging myself to learn more daily. I was fortunate enough to learn that mentality from my many mentors, and if anything, that is what I would pass along.

 

READ MORE ABOUT HARVEST CHANGE 

flickr_2Fresh sweet corn, about to be recovered by Food Forward volunteers at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

0 comments This entry was posted in Food Forward News. Bookmark the permalink.


Volunteering Morning, Noon, and Night

August 31st, 2018

8.31.18 —  Meet our Volunteer of the Month for August, Rebecca Brandt. Rebecca is a Pick Leader in Ventura County and has been known to lead fruit picks 7 or 8 times a week! Since she started volunteering with Food Forward a little over a year ago, she’s contributed 89 hours and participated in an extraordinary 44 events. Rebecca is hardworking, funny, and very dedicated to Food Forward’s mission, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have her in the Fruit Family. Thanks for you all you do, Rebecca!
rebecca-b
So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
 
I discovered Food Forward through VolunteerMatch.com. Just signed up for a backyard harvest that was within 30 minutes of home and was hooked!
 
 What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
 
The work itself drew me because it’s outdoors, it’s active, I get to meet and influence interesting people, and being around the fragrant fruit blossoms is a plus. The mission is honorable. Our efforts to redistribute food that would normally go to waste makes a huge impact on those less fortunate!

 

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?

When I am not volunteering with Food Forward I work for the Navy, currently in logistics for the Seabees. Sometimes I travel to Fresno or Sacramento to visit family, or take a little time for myself to relax at home and catch up on errands.

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward? 

My favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward is knowing that I am helping people in a number of ways. First there’s removing unwanted produce from a property, and then of course feeding people who need it!

 

image2 

How would you describe the volunteer experience at a harvest?

The volunteer experience at a harvest is always an opportunity to influence people to continue to make an impact. Everyone shares stories, learns from each other, and grows from being a part of something greater than themselves. We have fun while making a difference!

 

What was your first volunteer day like?

My first volunteer day was memorable and positive. It was a large backyard harvest in a lemon orchard with 20 or so other volunteers. The pick leaders, Joyce and Ally, were informative, inspiring and bubbly. The experience of collecting fruit, seeing the support of other volunteers, and simply chatting with Joyce and Ally inspired me to eventually become a pick leader.

 

What have you learned from volunteering?

From volunteering I have learned that there are more people out there who do want to make a difference. From the middle schoolers just logging in volunteer hours to the significant other just trying to make their partner happy by tagging along, people enjoy uniting for a greater cause to help others, and this makes me happy 🙂  

 

Any words of wisdom you live by?

When being true to yourself: “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter!”

0 comments This entry was posted in Volunteer of the Month. Bookmark the permalink.