Updates from Josephine Chu Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Josephine Chu 3:44 pm on April 30, 2012 Permalink  

    Teaching the Next Generation… 

    As I mentioned before, I also work with the After-care program at an elementary school, Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. I work with the Garden Club and teach two Science and Scouts classes, one for K-1st and one for 2nd to 4th grades. Because of the DC Healthy Schools Act, the DC Office of State Superintendent of Education made several grants available to aid schools establish edible gardens. Washington Yu Ying PCS partnered with Earth Day Network and in early February, we received a $10,000 grant for our garden! Since last fall, we have been working with the students, parents, teachers, and other organizations to plan the gardens and outdoor space. On Saturday, April 21, we held a Garden Work Day and built several raised beds, an outdoor stage, cleaned up the grounds, and planted azaleas around the campus. At the event, I was in charge of the kids’ activities, which included making seed bombs. To make seed bombs, you mix wildflower seeds with clay, soil, and water to form a small ball that can be planted in spaces that may be difficult to garden otherwise. This is a very fun, but messy activity, and so by the end of the day, I was covered in mud and dirt! At the event, my boss, Yolanda, also provided the Green Goddess smoothie and other refreshments from the market. We believe giving kids the opportunity to learn about where their food comes from and to eat healthy food will be essential towards creating a healthier food system and future.

  • Josephine Chu 3:19 pm on April 30, 2012 Permalink  

    Lessons Learned and What’s Next? 

    Through working at the market this semester, I have learned so much about how small businesses operate and the many challenges that they face in getting established. It has a been great learning experience, for which I am very grateful, and through the market, I have been able to connect with many other people both in the DC community and nationally working on sustainability and food issues. For example, in late February, I attended a conference at Boston University, hosted by the History Department, entitled Food and the City. This conference gave me a great historical background in how food systems were developed in the past and what lessons can be drawn from those case studies. I also represented the market at the Howard University Green Jobs Fair hosted by Green for All, which provided me with a great opportunity to connect with other people with similar interests. I also participated in several Sustainable DC meetings, as part of the DC government’s initiative to create a plan to make DC as sustainable as possible.

    As I would like to continue working on sustainability and food issues in the district, I hope to be able to draw on this network, especially for the new practicum option that the Global Environmental Politics program is offering. Instead of writing a Significant Research Paper, we now have the option of choosing to do a practicum, which would consist of a team project with 6-7 other Masters students to create some sort of deliverable for a NGO or government agency. I am hoping to work on a practicum that would allow me to work towards creating a more sustainable and just food system in DC.

  • Josephine Chu 7:59 am on April 26, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: agricultural economies, , business, commodity crops, , farm bill, farmers markets, , , high fructose corn syrup, school food, , , water pollution   

    Farm Bill? What does it matter to me? 

    This Friday, April 27, the Global Environmental Politics program at American University will be hosting a day-long symposium at the School of International Service to discuss the proposed US Farm Bill for 2012. Though the Farm Bill may not seem very relevant to our lives, it plays a crucial role in determining what we eat, how much it costs, how accessible it is, how it is produced, etc. It influences the quality of school food, our urban and rural economy, soils, air, and waterways, both domestically and internationally. For an awesome graphic explaining the twin problems of global hunger and food waste, check out this graphic. Thus, anyone who cares about food, health, children’s health, animal welfare, the ecosystem, jobs, social justice, should be aware of the Farm Bill and its enormous implications for our food and health system both in the United States and abroad.

    One reason why a fair Farm Bill is so important is that historically and currently, the majority of the Farm Bill subsidies goes towards one of five commodity crops: corn, cotton, wheat, rice, and soybeans. In addition, the overwhelming majority of these subsidies goes toward large corporate owned farms, making it difficult for family farms to compete and devastating rural economies. It is because of these subsidies that corn and soybean prices have been so artificially cheap, leading to an excess of processed products with high fructose corn syrup and cows and chickens raised in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) with a diet of corn, instead of grass-diet that the animals are adapted to. Because of these subsidies, these agribusinesses have been able to sell their crops abroad at a very low price, in a practice known as dumping, and devastating those agricultural economies as well.

    See the graphic below for how the Farm Bill budget is divided.

    As a result, products such as a Big Mac, chicken nuggets, and soda may seem cheap, but in reality, the listed price hides the true cost of production: the air and water pollution from the manure lagoons in CAFOs, the poor working conditions of the farm workers picking the tomatoes, the amount of pesticides and fertilizers used to grow the corn to feed the cows, the health impacts of having only fast food available in neighborhoods. While the Farm Bill provides extensive subsidies to the five commodity crops and has deregulated the commodity market, very little financial assistance is offered to farmers growing fruits and vegetables, making healthy food seem expensive and inaccessible in comparison.

    Thus, advocating for a Farm Bill that will support small farms that practice organic agriculture and grow a diverse set of crops instead of just one is essential. Back in November, I participated in a Lobby Day organized by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to lobby our representatives to support the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act sponsored by Representative Chellie Pingree. This bill is one example of legislation that if passed, could dramatically improve the state of our economy, health, and environment by focusing on providing assistance to small farmers, farmers markets, Farm to School programs, and other local and healthy food initiatives. As someone who works at an elementary school, I am particularly concerned about the quality of the school food that students eat (or don’t eat) everyday as it has direct impacts on their well-being as well as their academic performance. It is exciting to see that more and more people are coming to this realization and working to implement systematic changes to address these intertwined problems. For example, when I attended the Senate Committee hearing on Healthy Food Initiatives, Local Production, and Nutrition on March 7, I was pleasantly surprised by how much Senator Stabenow and the other witnesses were advocating for local and healthy food.

    Currently, the Senate Committee is supposed to hold a meeting to markup and amend the 2012 Farm Bill this Thursday, April 26 at 10:30am in 328A Russell Senate Office Building. The House Committee will also be hosting a hearing on Thursday, April 26, but at 9:30am (focused on conservation issues) and at 2pm (focused on dairy programs) in 1300 Longsworth House Office Building. Since each Farm Bill is usually authorized only once every five to seven years, if you are in Washington DC, it is a good opportunity to check out the hearings and hear people discuss the possibilities and implications of this important piece of legislation. The Senate Farm Bill Markup meeting will also be streamed live here if you cannot make it in person.

    The food system in the United States is broken and a fair Farm Bill could help to address many of these current problems of food insecurity, access, affordability, and safety. So come join us this Friday at American University for a conversation about what this fair Farm Bill could look like and how it could be implemented. Since the Farm Bill is such a complicated piece of legislation, we will be hosting a Farm Bill 101: Teach-in with Freshly Baked Pies, the day before on Thursday, April 26 at 7pm in SIS 300, to provide a primer about what the Farm Bill entails and its wide-ranging impacts. The AU Pie Club has generously agreed to bake the pies so we will have spinach quiches and rhubarb pies, with the spinach and rhubarb purchased from Agora Farms at AU’s Farmers Market!

    On Friday, April 27, we will be featuring EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Representative Chellie Pingree, co-sponsor of Local Farm, Food, and Jobs Act, and Under Secretary of Agriculture Michael Cluse. For more information about this Symposium, please click here and our Facebook page. The entire event is free, with the exception of the Sustainable Lunch. Tickets for the Lunch can be purchased here. The Sustainable Lunch will be a great opportunity to hear from the farmers about how the US Farm Bill impacts them and our food system. If you are interested in the event, but cannot attend, you can also watch it live streaming here. The Symposium will also feature a reception at the end with food donated from local businesses. The market that I work at will be among the businesses that will be contributing to this effort. We hope that the Symposium sparks a conversation that will continue past the event and that connections made through the event will provide for further fruitful collaborations.

  • Josephine Chu 9:37 pm on March 27, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Ginger Ingalls, ginger tea, Kelsey Leljedal, poetry workshop, resiliency, sunday brunch menu   

    Sunday Healing Brunch and Poetry Workshop with Ginger Ingalls 

    While I was at the market today, I met Ginger Ingalls, a wonderful woman with a great story about resiliency to share. She proposed the idea of hosting a poetry reading at our market and I liked it so much that I decided to work with her to host an event at the market. Thus, on Sunday, April 15, Hawthorne Homemade will be hosting a Sunday Healing Brunch and Poetry Workshop with Ginger Ingalls.

    Local, long-time DC poet, Ginger Ingalls will present her story of resiliency through her poetry. She will start with a reading of her poetry and then lead a workshop for attendees to help them convey their own story via poetry. Attendees will have an opportunity to share their poetry at the conclusion of the workshop, if they wish.

    Ginger Ingalls is a retired journalist, actress, bodywork therapist. She has worked with the Bureau of National Affairs, contributed for 35 years to the Washington Project for the Arts, and is a certified Biodynamic Craniosacral therapist. She has written poetry since she was five and is now using her gift of poetry to renew her and other people’s lives. For more information about this acclaimed poet, please visit her Facebook or WordPress site. Please check out her book, Flames in the Water, as well.

    In honor of Ginger, Hawthorne Homemade will be creating a special menu featuring two varieties of ginger tea. The full Sunday Brunch menu will be posted shortly.

    Tickets are available for purchase at http://sundaybrunchandpoetry.eventbrite.com/.

    see the flyer below! Much thanks to my friend Kelsey Leljedal for designing it!
    To see more of her work, check out her website.

  • Josephine Chu 5:16 pm on March 22, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: food issues, footprint, nature conservancy, , world water day   

    Happy World Water Day! 

    In honor of World Water Day, I would like to share this image from the Nature Conservancy.

    The “water footprint” of the average American is 32,911 glasses per day.

    Do you want to calculate your own water footprint? Click here. I just did mine and for my household of four people, we use about 2,616 gallons per day and I individually use about 654 gallons per day. The average American uses about 1,190 gallons per day.

    So what can we do to lower our water footprint?

    One major thing that we can do is cut down on the amount of meat that we eat. Most research has shown that it takes about 1,800 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. So just by cutting down on the amount of meat that you eat, you can significantly reduce how much water you use. One such initiative is the promotion of Meatless Mondays. At American University, the Office of Sustainability is focusing on food issues for the month of March and Meatless Mondays is one of the initiatives that we are promoting.

    At the market, we do offer some sandwiches with meat, but the majority of our menu is vegetarian or vegan. In fact, this Sunday, we will be starting to offer our Sunday Vegan Brunch menu. See here to sign up and here to pay.

    • John Charles 1:54 pm on March 26, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      That’s an astounding amount of water usage, Josephine. I will do my part to reduce. One question: what uses more water–dishwashers or hand washing?

      • jc7602a 4:47 am on March 28, 2012 Permalink

        Well, it depends, but if you are using an EnergyStar dishwasher, then that is generally more efficient.

        According to Treehugger, “The average — non-Energy Star — dishwasher uses 6 gallons of water per cycle, and average kitchen faucet flow is 2 gallons per minute, thanks to the Department of Energy. The average Energy Star-qualified dishwasher uses 4 gallons per cycle.”

  • Josephine Chu 1:30 pm on March 22, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: enterprise program, innovation project, social entrepreneurship, sustainable communities, sustainable economy, triple bottom line   

    the Potential of Social Enterprise 

    Last night, I attended a networking event for people involved in or interested in social enterprise. It was sponsored by several organizations in DC, including Invest2Innovate, StartingBloc DC, Hub DC, Compass Partners, DC Social Innovation Project, StartSomeGood, the One World Youth Project (OWYP), and UnSectored. As I have been working for a business, I have become very interested in the idea of social enterprise and have been trying to learn more about what it is and how it works. The basic premise of social enterprise is that business can be used as force to do good and uses its business to advance a social mission. Social enterprises will aim for achieving a triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit, rather than just profits as in the traditional business model.

    As someone whose goal is to to help create more sustainable communities, I am very excited by the potential of social enterprises and the role that they can play in creating this new sustainable economy. I have been trying to learn as much as possible about this field since this is all so new to me. Thus, I am planning on taking a class in the fall semester called Communication, Culture, and Social Entrepreneurship that I hope will give me a better understanding of all these issues. I actually met two students last night who are current Masters students in the Social Enterprise program at American University and they also spoke highly of the program. The Masters in Social Enterprise program at American University is brand new and this is the first year. So this seems to be a good time to be a student and an activist with so many new programs and organizations being developed that are exactly in the areas that I hope to work on.

    One of the students that I met works at Relief International, a NGO that also practices social enterprise. She was telling me about her department’s efforts to expand social enterprise so that the revenue generated from the LLCs that they own so that the department can be self-sufficient and not have to rely on outside funding. However, this is a long process as she told me that the department has been practicing social enterprise for several years and it is only recently that the department has been able to completely cover their costs through the revenue generated at the LLCs that they own. There are various LLCs, including one that manufactures clean cookstoves in Ghana.

    When I heard about the concept of a social enterprise NGO, I found it very intriguing and exciting as one of the main problems that NGOs have is in raising enough funds to cover their costs. Since NGOs are usually so cash-strapped, they are willing to accept financial donations from companies that may actually in conflict with the mission of that NGO and may agree to stop a campaign against the company in exchange for a donation. For example, in my Healthy Schools class on Tuesday, I learned that Save the Children and Earth Day Network were the two NGOs working in Washington DC to lobby for an excise tax on soda to provide the funding to implement the DC Healthy Schools Act. Unfortunately, the American Beverage Association which had been lobbying against excise tax gave Save the Children $3 million and in return, the NGO agreed to stop its campaign for an excise tax on soda tax. Sadly, this is just but one example and there are numerous more examples of NGOs that have agreed to stop their campaigns or compromise some of their values in order to receive some money from these companies.

    However, this is where I find social enterprise very promising. If NGOs are able to source their own funds and become financially self-sufficient (or at least generate more of their own revenues), then they can be truly independent of these companies. This will greatly reduce the potential for conflict of interest and the many dilemmas that come with accepting funding from questionable sources. However, that is a big IF, there is a lot of potential, but how much of it will be realized remains to be seen. I, personally, hope that NGOs will be able to achieve this and hope to be able to work towards this goal as well.

    • John Charles 1:58 pm on March 26, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      This is exciting. We are witnessing a transformation in how NGOs operate. Keep us updated on new developments!

  • Josephine Chu 2:55 pm on March 16, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: community outreach, , healthy cooking, small businesses, ,   

    the importance of community outreach 

    This past Wednesday, Chef Yolanda did a healthy cooking demonstration at the Guy Mason Community Center in Glover Park, about a twenty minute walk from the market. Her cooking demo was part of the Guy Mason Community Center’s seven week series entitled, Seven Servings of Healthy Recipes and Tips from Local Chefs. It was a great opportunity to not only educate people about healthy eating options, but also ways to eat in a more eco-friendly manner, and how the two goals of health and sustainability are intertwined. I spoke about the environmental initiatives that the market is taking such as sourcing from local farms, using biodegradable packaging, and implementing a composting system. It is important to note, however, that sustainability is a process, and that it takes time for some of these initiatives to occur. One of the products that I hope to produce at the end of my internship is a guidebook to help small businesses become sustainable as there are many obstacles (financial, logistical, human capital, etc) that make it quite difficult.

    We also briefly discussed the debate between local vs. organic (which will merit its own blog post). At Hawthorne Homemade, we attempt to source from local farms as much as possible, and work to ensure that those farms practice sustainable agriculture. We will be visiting one of these farms, Sligo Creek Farm http://www.ourhousefarmmd.com/, next week. However, there are certain products that we cannot buy locally such as coffee or hemp milk so for those products, we aim to buy fair-trade and/ or organic.

  • Josephine Chu 6:37 pm on March 6, 2012 Permalink  

    the many uses of Dr. Bronner’s magic soap 

    This past weekend, I attended the United Students for Fair Trade Convergence at the University of Maryland, College Park. It was a pretty awesome conference and I learned so much, including that Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap can be used as laundry detergent! For those of you who have never heard or used Dr. Bronner’s soap before, it is a combination of organic extra virgin coconut, olive, jojoba, hemp, and essential oils with NO harmful chemicals or additives. Many personal care products contain many dangerous chemicals, which are harmful for our body and polluting to our waterways. (Check out this study from Environmental Working Group about water pollution from detergenets and other consumer products: http://www.ewg.org/water/downthedrain)

    For more information about the United Students for Fair Trade Convergence, check out: http://usft.org/convergence

    Check out the list below from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap website: http://www.drbronner.com/faqs_main.html
    For the laundry, use 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup for one regular load; adjust as needed depending on hardness of water. I’ve been told that adding a dash of baking soda makes it even better.
    For pets, lather up well and apply to their body. Be careful to keep the soap and the lather away from their eyes. I find a mixture of peppermint and eucalyptus works best.

    So come try some of the soap and avoid adding more dangerous chemicals to our bodies and waterways!

    • Francine Blume 4:43 pm on March 7, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Cool tip! Were you attending the conference as part of your internship? Other than finding out about the soap, what was your role?

      • jc7602a 3:26 pm on March 16, 2012 Permalink

        I found out about this conference through my roommate and decided to attend since I thought it would be relevant for my internship, and it indeed was! My role was mainly as participant, but I did learn much more than about the soap. I will blog about that soon.

    • John Charles 3:58 pm on March 13, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Very interesting, Josephine. FYI, we have a few SIS alumni who do fair trade work. I will share a profile with you on LinkedIn.

      • jc7602a 3:18 pm on March 16, 2012 Permalink

        great, thanks! that would be very helpful!

  • Josephine Chu 10:07 pm on March 5, 2012 Permalink  

    Recycled Art Contest at AU this Wednesday, 7-9pm! come check us out! 

    As the Green Eagle for the Office of Sustainability at American University, I have been helping to put together a recycled art contest in order to educate students about ways they can reuse what they had previously assumed to be “waste”! Here at Hawthorne Homemade, we follow the policy of waste not, want not and aim to only use what we need in order to ensure that current and future generations will have enough to use (future blog entry to follow with more information about our waste reduction measures).

    As such, partnering with American University to educate students about ways to reduce our waste seemed to be a natural fit. We will be providing the refreshments for this event and hope you can come check us out!

  • Josephine Chu 9:54 pm on March 5, 2012 Permalink  

    pictures from the market! 

    Ginger Tea, Hibiscus Blossom Tea, and Winter Warmth

    Sesame-Ginger Tofu Wrap

    Jicama-Mango-Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

    Fava Bean Bok Choy Soup

    Miso Barley Mushroom Soup

    • Francine Blume 4:39 pm on March 8, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      These are such great photos! I love the Jicama-Mango-Sugar Snap Pea Salad but I’m a big miso fan, too!

compose new post
next post/next comment
previous post/previous comment
show/hide comments
go to top
go to login
show/hide help