Attend the Northwest Summer Leadership Training & Be a Real Food Challenge Leader!

Are you…   

…Wanting your food choices at school to align with your values?
…Ready to bolster your real food campaign this coming school year?
…Hungry for change?

Join us August 23-26 to learn the skills you need to kick the 2012-13 school year off right!

August 23-26, Real Food Challenge Northwest is hosting an intensive, skills-based leadership training in Eastern Washington. About 25 students from the Northwest (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska) and veteran real food organizers will converge in Spokane for a powerful weekend of workshops, cooking, skill-shares, strategizing and all-around fun.

The training will feature a unique series of workshops on campus organizing, food systems, and campaign planning to ensure your student groups best year yet! Ranging from storytelling as a campus/peer organizing tool; to power, privilege and oppression in the food system; toidentifying allies in your campus food system; to working with dining and campus administration; to managing student group dynamics, the workshops are geared toward students who want to take on (or strengthen an existing) real food campaign on their campus.

AND, the training is SO MUCH MORE than workshops: we will cook and eat delicious [REAL!] meals together, visit and work with local food justice organizations or farms, meet key stakeholders in campus and regional food systems, plus, play all sorts of games and enjoy outdoor activities. Everyone walks away with new friends, allies, concrete skills, and the real tools needed to revolutionize our food system!

The Run Down
When: August 23-26 (Thursday Aug 23 3:00 PM PST – Sunday Aug 26 3:00 PM PST)
Where: Spokane, WA
Who: NW students already engaged in or looking to start Real Food projects on campus.
How: REGISTER HERE.  We can help arrange travel logistics.
Cost: $30-$50 registration (sliding scale). Registration and travel scholarships are available on a case by case basis.

More info on the RFC website (including registration)
The Facebook Event
Pictures from Last Year’s NW Regional Training and Pictures from last month’s National Training in Boston
Blog post by Whitman Student, Genevieve Jones, about last year’s NW Regional training

Contact us with questions:

REGISTER TODAY! Time is running out!


Spotlight On a Real WA Farm: Toboton Creek Ranch

This post was originally written by Travis Bettinson, Owner & Chef of Junip Foods

“WE SELL WHOLE GOATS”…certainly catches the eye. At least the eye of a beard-insulated, future farm owning, pragmatic chef. Magnetically, I was drawn to the stand of Toboton Creek Farm at the U-district farmers market. A few days later I was a small goateposit’s worth poorer. Two weeks later, yet again, my bank account lessened by the value of a small goat-payment. The upside was three-fold:

1)    Walking through the farmers market while curious citizens and stand-tenders gazed at the two goat legs poking out of a trash-bag. I specifically remember a woman serving Naan, near the northwest exit, shouting to me “at least you don’t look suspicious!”

2)    Butchering Maxwell Copper-Bottom, the chosen name of the goat, from whole animal to the parts that I wanted: a neck, legs, two shanks, shoulders, sirloins, tenderloins, offal meats, and bones.

3) Countless dishes such as Sarawack Goat Shoulder Curry w/ red camarang & white rice, Mustard & Apricot Glazed Goat Leg w/ red onion, butternut, feta, and orzo salad, and Goat Sausage spiced w/ cumin, chile d’arbol, coriander, red wine & cinnamon.


My culinary magnet led me to further discourse with one of the owners of Toboton Creek Farm, Lynda Kofford-Di Ciccio. This time the words “Muscovy duck” and “slaughter weight” were thrown around. Cut to me a few weeks later in Lynda’s car, driving to her farm in Yelm.

After retiring from their respective nursing and teaching professions, Lynda and Dan bought the farm 12 years ago. Of their 40 or so acres only a very small percentage is not left untouched for pastureland. When rolling through the gate to the farm you see Lynda and Dan’s small house, their two story generic barn on the right, and their feeding lot that they describe as “organized chaos”.

When the email was sent out that the pens would be organized into bucks, does, show goats, and kids, the chickens and ducks must have been playing angry birds on their Ipoult. They imperturbably floated from pen to pen laying eggs where they want and disregarding the needs of anyone else.

Behind the pens is a vast pastureland bequeathing its worms, grass, insects, streams and dense foliage to the needs of the animals, whose unclipped wings made catching them akin to a three stooges episode.

In the mornings, Dan leisurely feeds the goats, and picks up any eggs that he can find in the feeding bins or on the ground. Lynda would scrub the eggs of which I was able to see the massive ethereal white duck eggs, the pale green Araucana chicken eggs, and the shining dark chocolate Black Copper Maran eggs.

When going out to feed their Old Spot pig, Dan must cross what I call the vast “Sea of Cuteness”. A thirty-foot stretch stockpiled with two-week old kids whose sole purpose in life is turn the 8 second walk into a 5 minute “baa-fest”. À la The Grinch, my heart expanded three sizes when dozen of these soft and fluffy cherubs of the farm made a concerted effort to scale each other and my legs to get to my potential food-giving hands.

…To continue reading the rest of this post and to see Travis’s great photos of the other animals at the farm CLICK HERE

And to check out Toboton Creek Ranch CLICK HERE 


How hunger is related to our agricultural system & the Farm Bill

At first glance it is easy to make the connection between hunger and agriculture – after all, our food comes from farms, so if there is hunger there must be something wrong with our farming practices, right? However the nuances of this web of relationships are more complex and meaningful than meets the eye. From the selective subsidies in the Farm Bill to poor working conditions and pay for farm workers to the consolidation of “Big Ag”, the way we have been producing our food has lead to an attitude of yield over quality, and profit margins over nutritional value. It has produced enough food to feed the world, yet the numbers of the hungry worldwide, including Americans, has risen…but why?


Most of us have seen Food Inc, have read something by Michael Pollan, or have read an article somewhere that has shown the many vulnerabilities and holes in the modern industrial farming philosophy and the dangers of monoculture and a petroleum-based system. If you don’t live under a rock, there’s a chance you’ve heard that the way industrial agriculture is set up now is not sustainable and is not effectively feeding the world, despite the abundance of food being produced.

Some of the reason for this is what’s written in the Farm Bill, an important piece of legislation that encompasses a wide range of policies throughout the food system from commodity pricing and agricultural land conservation to support for farmer’s markets and nutrition programs. Farm bill policies directly affect food prices which in turn affects who has access to healthy foods and who doesn’t. The commodity subsidies in our current legislation favor large farms that grow only five main crops (corn, cotton, rice, wheat, and soybeans) and gives little or no money to smaller farmers that grow “specialty crops” also known as fruits and vegetables. The stirring short film below titled “In Short Supply: Small Farmers and the Struggle to Deliver Healthy Food to Your Plate” illustrates the consequences of these policies on small family farmers growing real, healthy food.

“With hardly any subsidies for fruits and vegetables, their price in stores increased by nearly 40% over 15 years while the real price of soft drinks declined by 23 percent. The reason the least healthful calories in the supermarket are the cheapest is that those are the ones the farm bill encourages farmers to grow” .

The Farm Bill is a primary tool in the fight against hunger because it dictates many aspects of our food system. The pie (hehe) chart above shows how 76% of the focus of this legislation is on nutrition programs, from WIC and SNAP to the School Lunch Program, and out of school meals for kids. Many believe that there is a lot of opportunity in the upcoming renewal of the Farm Bill to improve supports for local farmers producing fruits and vegetables, to invest in rural economies and jobs, and to boost SNAP benefits to help struggling families get through the month and buy more healthful foods.


This article by Barry Estabrook from The Atlantic gives a compelling case for the argument that organic can in fact feed the world, mostly by citing how many scientific studies that have been conducted that support this theory (over 100 of them). Estabrook also brings up this idea of “agroecology“, or combining eco-friendly farming technologies with the natural, social, and human assets. If you have a half hour to kill and want to hear about “Food movements, agroecology, and the future of food and farming”  in depth, and hear more about how our global food & farming system currently contributes to hunger, I highly recommend this lecture by Eric Holt-Gimenez of Food First. If you’d prefer to read about it, check out Food First’s collection of essays from food movement leaders around the world at

If you think I’ve done a poor job of summarizing how farming relates to hunger, you’re probably right because this is a major debate that concerns the global food system, with many moving pieces and viewpoints. So I’ll leave it up to you to decide; however, Estabrook’s piece ends with a striking statement that deserves pondering:

Given that the current food production system, which is really a 75-year-old experiment, leaves nearly one billion of the world’s seven billion humans seriously undernourished today, the onus should be on the advocates of agribusiness to prove their model can feed a future population of nine billion — not the other way around.