Market Umbrella is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), based in New Orleans, whose mission is to cultivate the field of public markets for public good. Market Umbrella has operated the Crescent City Farmers Markets (CCFM) since 1995.
Good Food Words
In addition to running farmers markets, a critical component of Market Umbrella’s work is to enhance food and nutrition access and awareness in our community. The Good Food Word of the Week seeks to shed some light on this part of our work and also to demystify the jargon.
or 3BL/TBL, refers to the social, ecological and economic bottom lines of any business, whether for-profit or non-profit. In a farmers market, a community meeting place (or third place) is created where food that is sustainably produced and travels fewer miles to get to the end consumer is purchased by the surrounding community directly from the producer, directly supporting the local economy by keeping food dollars circulating locally. It’s part of why it can feel so good to eat fresh, local food (and why we look forward to a more “normal” gathering space).
Third places are social environments outside the primary social spaces of the home and the workplace. While the workplace is a structured setting and the home is a private one, third places provide an opportunity to form spontaneous social connections among a diverse group of people. Examples of third places include public parks, libraries, cafes, and of course, farmers markets! Covid 19 has certainly challenged this as for many, there is now only a single place - the home. We look forward to brighter days when our markets again serve not just as retailers of local food, but also as third places in our community.
which stands for Women, Infants, and Children, is a special supplemental nutrition program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service that serves pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children up to the age of five by providing vouchers to purchase healthy foods, nutrition education, and healthcare referrals. Over 100,000 women and children benefit from the WIC program in Louisiana where vouchers can be used to purchase groceries in a grocery store. Market Umbrella has collaborated with Louisiana’s Department of Child and Family Services to link WIC with farmers markets statewide. Now families can use incentives, like the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program voucher, not only to stretch their food dollars, but also to access fresh food and produce at the Crescent City Farmers Market and other markets around the state. Another innovation is the Market Mommas Club where eligible mothers and mothers-to-be can receive up to $80 in market tokens for up to six months. Enroll here.
When we used to refer to food safety, it was in regards to practices that best mitigated potential unhealthy food contamination, usually through good agricultural practices, or GAPs (a certification that recognizes these positive on-farm practices). It’s a whole new ballgame, as food safety and handling practices also must address coronavirus threats with practices like social distancing and enhanced sanitation. These impacts are food system-wide and range from safety precautions and shortages at the grocery store, to the disproportionate effects of the virus on people of color who more often perform low-wage essential tasks like farm work and food processing, people who have suddenly been thrust into the position of being front line workers, without the equipment or hazard pay or respect that those roles deserve. Now more than ever, knowing your grower/producer means you’re participating in a socially and environmentally just and sustainable food system. And shopping outside for groceries is the safest place you can be!
The human tongue is sensitive to five basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami. Umami means “pleasant savory taste” in Japanese, and its flavor is often described as meaty or brothy. Experiment with umami flavor in the kitchen by incorporating ingredients like pork, poultry, mushrooms, seaweed, anchovies, or miso. For more inspiration, check out these umami recipes from Bon Appetit.
Chronic diseases are long term medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, and hypertension that require ongoing care and often limit daily activities. Six in ten adults in America suffer from at least one chronic disease, which are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. Chronic diseases are even more prevalent in Communities of Color, especially in the wake of COVID 19. Health differences are often due to economic and social conditions that are more common among African Americans than whites. For example, African American adults are more likely to report they cannot see a doctor because of cost. All Americans should have equal opportunities to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Learn more here.
A person’s health isn’t just determined by his or her genetic code. The physical and social environment plays an important role in shaping the health of individuals and communities. Neighborhoods that have accessible affordable housing, food justice, strong social support networks, and are free of violence and environmental pollutants are all essential to promoting healthier communities. Learn more about how social and environmental conditions impact health.
In recent years, anthropologists studying diet and culture, have re-termed food deserts, into Food apartheid. The change in colloquial term has been made to represent that “food deserts” are not desolate, empty neighborhoods, but are neighborhoods that have been deemed to be unworthy of having access to nutritious food. Many like Karen Washington believe that “when we’re talking about these places, there is so much life and vibrancy and potential. Using that word runs the risk of preventing us from seeing all of those things. What I would rather say instead of “food desert” is “food apartheid,” because “food apartheid” looks at the whole food system, along with race, geography, faith, and economics.” Read Karen Washington’s interview with Guernica Magazine to learn more.
This federal program provides meals at school to students from families whose income is 130-185% of the poverty level. In New Orleans, 82% of students are considered economically disadvantaged, one indicator of which is eligibility for FRPL. One of the major disruptions of coronavirus has been to students’ access to food through school, pushing many to the brink of food insecurity.
SNAP which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, is an anti-hunger program of the federal government that provides on average $1.37 per meal to low-income households. Last year, 1 in 6 Louisiana residents received SNAP benefits, the vast majority (71%) of which were in families with children, many were in families with elderly or disabled members and 38% of recipients are in working families. The full economic impacts of coronavirus remain to be seen but we know there’s record unemployment and a backlog of SNAP applications. CCFM’s Market Match program doubles SNAP purchases up to $20 to increase the purchase power and health and wellness of members of our community.
Our planet exists in a careful ecological balance with a finite number of resources. The goal of sustainable agriculture is to produce sufficient food for current populations without disrupting the ability of future generations to provide for themselves by preserving the balance of natural resources within ecosystems. Learn more about sustainable agriculture and support the Crescent City Farmers Market to create a sustainable future.
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Good food is a practice in sustainability for many reasons. Not only are “food miles” - the distance food travels from source to consumption - reduced when local food is consumed, but small farms tend to require less synthetic fertilizers and pesticides per acre than industrial monoculture farms and tend to grow heirloom and other less common varieties thereby increasing biodiversity. Celebrate Earth Day this week by supporting local farms!
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for a healthy, active lifestyle. Food insecurity often leads to stress, poor nutrition, and an elevated risk of chronic disease. Normally, one in six Louisiana residents struggles with food insecurity, including one in four children, although with increased unemployment and school closures, coronavirus has made this problem much worse. Learn more about the health impacts of poverty and food insecurity.
Whole foods are unprocessed fruits, and free from additives. If you’re looking to add more whole foods to your diet, search for things that can go straight from a field to your plate without any steps in between. Options include vegetables, fruits, nuts, and sustainably-sourced meats and fish.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. There are many ways this can look, but usually, someone purchases a subscription before the harvest season, and then receives a “share”, a pre-packaged assortment of the harvest through the course of the season. In this manner, farmers receive income when they need it to plant, and eaters get a variety of fresh produce directly from the grower. CSAs can aggregate produce from many farms, and while some require a subscription, others do not.
This week’s Good Food Word is Public Health - While doctors treat individual patients, public health focuses on improving the wellbeing of an entire community. This can include promoting healthy lifestyle choices, combating infectious diseases, and developing health systems that make quality care accessible to everyone. Public health also seeks to address social inequalities that impact health, such as poverty, food insecurity, and racial injustice.
Food that is picked when ripe and yields maximum nutritional value, grown locally, which limits carbon emissions as the result of transportation and keeps foods fresh and nutritionally intact, produced by small farms whose methods are in many ways more environmentally sustainable than conventional agriculture, for which the farmer and their employees get paid fairly and can make a decent living, and is affordable and accessible for all eaters. For shorthand, we often define good food as healthy, green, fair and affordable. When you’re shopping at the farmers market, you are supporting good food!
The Crescent City Farmers Market operates weekly year-round in four New Orleans neighborhoods. The CCFM hosts nearly 80 local small farmers, fishers and food producers, and more than 100,000 shoppers annually.