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Posts tagged ‘sustainable food’

SLCgreen Welcomes Brian Emerson!

Earlier this year, SLCgreen said goodbye to Food & Equity Program Manager, Supreet Gill. Supreet helped shape the Food & Equity program, shepherding forward the first cohort of our innovative Resident Food Equity Advisors program.

Now, it’s time for a new program manger to pick up the torch.

SLCgreen is thrilled to welcome Brian Emerson to the role! Let us introduce you . . .

Brian Emerson has over 15 years of experience working on food and sustainability issues. He is passionate about the role cities can play in building more just and sustainable food systems, and is eager to support programs that connect social justice and community resiliency.  

Photo of Brian Emerson standing in a verdant garden with a small red chicken on his shoulder. There is a large chicken coop behind them. Brian is white, and has short brown hair and a reddish brown beard. He is wearing a blue zip up hoodie and is looking at the camera with friendly seriousness.
Brian Emerson, Salt Lake City’s Food & Equity Program Manager, befriends a backyard chicken.

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Brian’s career began at Wasatch Community Gardens, helping educate our communities and transform unused spaces into vibrant gardens. Since then, he has worked with Local Futures, researching different approaches to addressing food, energy, and economic needs. Brian also worked with Utahns Against Hunger, where he advocated for critical food justice and anti-poverty policies. In his role at Utahns Against Hunger, Brian witnessed the connections between equity and food access, and helped support efforts to alleviate these disparities.  

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e2 Business Highlight: Tracy Aviary

Salt Lake City’s e2 Business Program is a free consulting and marketing program for Salt Lake City businesses run out of the Sustainability Department. The program is dedicated to helping Salt Lake’s business community run in a more environmentally and economically sustainable manner. We take pride in recognizing the achievements of our members! If you are interested in joining the program or browsing current members, please visit our e2 Business webpage.

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Tracy Aviary, one of the nation’s only free-standing aviaries, will be marking its 83rd anniversary this year. Over the past decades, the iconic landmark in the heart of Liberty Park has become a leader in environmental education and conservation.  

Tracy Aviary goes above and beyond their work with bird conservation, emphasizing local ecosystem conservation efforts through community science programs, as well as participating in critical global species conservation work. Moreover, Tracy Aviary has been taking steps towards reducing their own environmental impact.

Photo of front of Tracy Aviary Visitors center with lights shining behind copper metal façade.

A longtime member of the e2 Business Program, Tracy Aviary has marked several sustainability milestones such as the addition of 18kW of on-site solar energy, as well as a 67% recycling diversion rate. One recent achievement is in realizing their 2018 goal of reducing energy consumption by more than 10% in 2019 and 2020.

“Reducing our energy consumption and focusing on sustainable energy is one of the ways we can make the biggest impact when combating climate change. Slowing climate change not only helps native birds, who are highly sensitive to changes in their environment, but all the plants and animals we share our ecosystems with.

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Sustainable Food Systems & Culturally Relevant Food

Salt Lake City is committed to supporting our local food system, enhancing access to fresh, healthy, and sustainable food for our communities. Building a sustainable and resilient local food system is both an environmental concern and one rooted in social equity.

SLCgreen supports community gardens and encourages our community to eat locally and limit food waste in order to reduce our household carbon footprints. Furthermore, we recognize that a resilient environment is directly connected to social, economic, and environmental equity. A truly sustainable food system ensures access to nutritious fresh food for everyone in our community.

In 2020, the pandemic and local emergencies jeopardized food access and deepened existing social inequities. The need for food assistance increased by 300%. Food pantries, emergency programs, and mutual aid organizations work to relieve those gaps in access, but fresh and culturally relevant foods are not always readily available.

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Going Green At Home: Eating More Vegetarian

Calf munching a leaf, courtesy of Wikimedia.
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Meatpacking plants across the country have become coronavirus hotspots, infecting workers and forcing some closures. This has made its way to the refrigerated section where some stores are limiting meat purchases to prevent shortages.

Livelihoods and health are at risk in many places, including Utah.

We wish a swift recovery to all of those who are ill, and a return to work as soon as it’s safe.

As a consumer, this state of affairs may have made you curious about how to cook healthy, satisfying meatless meals. The good news is that cooking more vegetarian meals– whether occasionally or frequently– is usually healthier for your family, as well as easier on the planet.

What we eat matters and it turns out that animal products have the largest carbon footprint.

Meatless Mondays

Did you know that cutting meat – and other foods – one day per week started as a national resource conservation strategy during wartime? Indeed, how and what we consume plays a central role during many national and international crises – from growing more food at home in Victory Gardens, to sharing our food resources at local food pantries.

Cabbage photo
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Going Green at Home: Eating Healthy and Supporting Local Farmers

Our food choices are important. In fact, in Utah, food choices contribute 25% of the household carbon footprint. This a result of the growing, harvesting, transportation, packaging, and cooking processes involved with getting our food to our tables.

While the restrictions as a result of COVID-19 have made shopping for groceries difficult, and food access remains an issue. However, the country’s farmers still have a large supply of food. Safely harvesting and selling the produce is what’s challenging.

Even though the farmers markets are temporarily closed, we can still support local growers and get healthy, sustainably grown food at the same time.

Our local farmers need support right now! With only 2-3% of the produce consumed in Utah grown in the state, local agriculture is already in a fragile state.

SLCgreen is working hard with our partners to find ways to support these farmers so they can continue operating– during this challenging time and into the future.

Plus, eating more produce and eating local is good for you!

Read on . . .

Rows of vegetables in a local urban farm.
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Introducing SLCgreen's Resident Food Equity Advisors Program

We have a new program we’d like to share with you and we’re looking for your help spreading the word to recruit applicants.

First, some context:

As part of SLCgreen’s commitment to equity and sustainability, we are beginning a new program to help residents from marginalized communities participate in how Salt Lake City tackles healthy food access. 

What is healthy food access? 

  • Having *enough* to eat (1 in 8 Utahns struggles with hunger, and 1 in 7 children are hungry, according to the Feeding America organization).
  • Having the ability to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. This means that healthy food is not only available at nearby grocery stores and corner stores, but that people have the ability to get there to buy it.
  • Healthy food access is closely tied with income.  New research is showing that “food deserts” are not just about location, but about the ability of people to afford healthy food.

These are issues that the Sustainability Department– and Salt Lake City as a whole– cares deeply about. We cannot have a healthy, thriving community if people don’t have enough to eat.

SLCgreen has developed a robust Local Food program over the past decade to increase the opportunities for growing and buying healthy, local food.

But we must do more.

There are policy, economic, communications, and structural factors at play that are still a barrier to many people in eating enough, and eating healthfully. Thankfully, there are many organizations and government agencies working on this issue, and we’re grateful for the strong community focused on food, poverty, nutrition, policy, and public health in Utah.

This year, we’re excited to dig deeper as a city department with the launch of a new program specifically around Food Access & Equity:

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Get Ready to Eat Local this Winter

Our eating habits can contribute a lot to our carbon footprint. The process of growing, harvesting, transporting, processing, and packaging food all emits CO2. And the farther away from the farms we live, the bigger our environmental impact becomes. By eating more locally, we support the local economy and protect the environment by cutting down on the time and resources spent producing our food.

But what about in winter?!

Eating fresh and local produce can be harder depending on the season. Indeed, if you look at this seasonal food guide, you can see how the produce availability changes from month to month even in Utah.

Luckily, there are many ways to extend the harvest season and enjoy local food all year round.

Preserving the Fall Harvest

It may feel a little old fashioned, but making your own jams, marmalades, and jellies is a great way to make your local fruit last and reduce your food waste. Preserved fruit can be done in several ways, but a simple jam just requires high pectin fruit and sugar.

If you’re not into sweets, try pickling! You can get started with almost any vegetable with the basic (and delicious!) refrigerator pickle approach.

Preserving fruits and veggies doesn’t have to be as simple as jams and pickles. Depending on your recipe, you can make soups and sauces and other delicious meals from your fresh fall harvest and freeze them until you need a taste of summer to lighten the midwinter mood.

Downtown Winter Farmers Market Logo

Find Seasonal Treats at the Winter Farmers Market

Thanks to the local farmers with greenhouses, cold storage, and hydroponic systems, Utah’s harvest season is a lot longer.  The Downtown Farmers Market is helping extend the season with the Winter Farmers Market!

With many of our favorite farmers from the summer Downtown Farmers Market, the Winter Farmers Market will run from November 9th to April 18th on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm at the Rio Grande Depot.

As we approach the winter, don’t give up on eating fresh, locally grown food!

Eat Local Week 2019

Whether you are a hardcore “locavore” or you just want to try eating a little more sustainably, taking the Eat Local Week Challenge will help you support the local economy, reduce your carbon footprint, and eat some delicious and nutritious food.

Eat Local logo on image of beets.

What is Eat Local Week?

Eat Local Week Utah challenges you to eat as locally as possible from September 7th to 14th. “Local” typically qualifies as food grown and produced within a 250 mile radius. While it may seem daunting to go without coffee for a week, thanks to the local farmers markets and the events throughout Eat Local Week, there are many ways to participate!

The week’s events include a roster of fun for the whole family starting with Wasatch Community Garden’s Tomato Sandwich Party in the Grateful Tomato Garden. The event serves up free and absolutely fresh pesto and tomato sandwiches. This week you can also support Wasatch Community Gardens and eat fresh, locally grown tomatoes at local restaurants participating in the 2019 Tomato Days.

Other festivities include the Punk Rock Farm to Taco Truck, a Local Spirit Tasting at the Downtown Caputos, and a week-long recipe contest.

Eat Local Week Schedule.
Eat Local Week schedule provided by the Urban Food Connections of Utah.
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It’s Farmers Market Season!

Summer is here and along with it are the Salt Lake City area Farmers Markets. June 7th and 8th marked the start of another great summer of Farmers Markets with the Liberty Park Farmers Market on Friday night and the Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday morning. The markets ushered in summer with everything from delicious food trucks to fresh heirloom vegetables to artisan dog cookies!

On Saturday, interns from SLCgreen tabled alongside farmers and vendors including Buzzed Coffee, Raclette Machine, Mamachari Kombucha, Volkers Bakery, and many more. Salt Lake City’s Farmers Market are a great way to support local growers; eat fresh, locally grown food; and to learn about sustainability projects in Salt Lake City.

SLCgreen Interns Linda Derhak and Atticus Olmedo tabling at the Downtown Farmers Market.
SLCgreen Interns Linda Derhak and Atticus Olmedo at the Downtown Farmers Market.

Support Farmers Markets

Salt Lake City supports community-based food production as a means of making fresh, sustainable foods more readily accessible.

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Donate Fresh Food and Build Community: Register your Trees or Volunteer with SLC FruitShare

Every summer, across the valley, fresh fruit goes to waste, falling off of neighborhood trees and rotting on sidewalks and in backyards. The good news is that with an abundance of fruit trees, Salt Lake City is in a unique position to cut down on waste and provide affordable access to healthy food.

That’s how the Fruitshare program was born. Salt Lake City worked with the non-profit Green Urban Lunch Box (GULB) to launch this program several years ago with the goal of reducing food waste and providing healthy fruit to residents in need. SLCgreen has also supported the program financially until it became self-sustaining.

Since then the program has expanded beyond Salt Lake City, to include other areas along the Wasatch Front.

In 2017, volunteers with the Green Urban Lunch Box harvested over 50,000 pounds of fresh, locally grown fruit from local trees. Wow!

But they need your help to do even more.

Fresh Plumbs from the FruitShare

What is the SLC FruitShare?

Instead of losing the fruit to the landfill, the SLC FruitShare will bring volunteers to harvest your fruit for you! If you have a tree or orchard that produces an abundance of fruit each year, you can register you trees and help strengthen our local food system.

Here’s how it works:

  • GULB volunteers harvest the fruit
  • FruitShare participants (the homeowners) will receive one-third of what’s gathered.
  • The other two-thirds is split between the FruitShare volunteers and hunger relief programs.
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