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"The Chesapeake Table: Your Guide to Eating Local" coming out this fall! Written by CFN Steering Team member, Renee Brooks Catacalos

We at the Chesapeake Foodshed Network couldn’t be more excited about CFN Steering Team member Renee Brooks Catacalos’ book coming out this fall, “The Chesapeake Table: Your Guide to Eating Local.”  

Renee Brooks Catacalos had just moved back to DC in 2001 after living abroad and had become used to eating fresh, local food in other cultures across the sea. About this time the farmers market movement was starting to pick up.  She was doing PR work with restauranteurs Todd and Ellen Gray (pioneers on the sustainable ag. and humanely-raised food scene) and began to wonder how she could take some of these values her favorite restaurants were instituting and integrate them into her own home and family life. She began regularly visiting area farmers markets and farms in the DC metropolitan area and incorporating it into her children’s education, who are now in college and have adopted conscious eating habits, “they know there is something at stake in the choices they make.”

Renee always knew she wanted to write a book. She had previously worked as Deputy Director of Future Harvest CASA and as the publisher and editor of Edible Chesapeake, but in recent years moved out of food systems work and into the role of a consumer.  Watching the food movement explode locally with intrepid entrepreneurs and new access to locally made products was inspiring, but in the literature she was not seeing the Chesapeake region adequately represented. So she decided to take it on for the average consumer.  “I still talk to people who have all kinds of reasons for not making better food decisions. I’ve checked it all out so you don’t have to. This book is not just prescriptive though, it condenses the issues, some barriers, and ways for you [the consumer] to get involved.”

There’s a lot to be hopeful about, Renee found during her research. There are more ways for farmers and producers to get their product to market. Having more options is a hopeful thing.  Markets and CSA’s are not the only way for farmers to be profitable. The rise of food policy councils around the region is also a positive sign. Successful councils are making a difference in communities,  working to help more producers get into the market, paving the way to get products out to consumers easier, and finding different ways to get products to new consumers.
There are always challenges though. “There’s still the challenge of properly telling stories and connecting food to its origin as we have these new options of procurement.”  Checks and balances and ways to verify need to be in place to make sure folks aren’t “local washing.”
“The Chesapeake Table” will be available this fall.  You can pre-order now from Johns Hopkins University Press  (enter the promotional code HTWN for a 20% discount) and Amazon. If you’d like to follow news about the book over the coming months as Renee gets early reviews in and schedules book events, check out reneeeatslocal.com, or follow her food/book-related social media accounts on Facebook (reneeeatslocal) and Twitter (@reneeeatslocal). Renee will also be speaking at the Baltimore Book Festival on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 1PM at Food for Thought Stage with John Shields, who also has a new book coming out, “The New Chesapeake Kitchen.”

9th Annual Choose Clean Water Coalition Conference



June 4, 2018

Wow! What can I say? Choose Clean Water Coalition put on a spectacular 9th annual Clean Water Conference this past May in Lancaster, PA.  The Coalition aims to harness collective power, conveyed through the Conference’s theme this year, Connecting our Power. Sessions for the Conference covered a variety of topics including innovative agriculture, diversity, equity and justice, and community engagement.

The equity journey was truly insightful. With important breakout sessions on empowerment, listening to and responding to community needs, alignment, and most of all patience. The conference presenters provided informative and useful documents including The Dos and Don’ts of Community Engagement and Choose Clean Water Coalition’s Diversity Toolkit: building Principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice in Organizations. The Chesapeake Foodshed Network referenced this document in order to advocate for and develop a demographic survey at its 2016 Chesapeake Food Summit. We want to thank Director, Chanté Coleman for her leadership in this work. 

The conference lead attendants on a dedicated path to create space for capacity building and affecting innovative change in their own work while strengthening partnerships and collaboration by supporting numerous field trips.  Participants attended paddle boarding and mindfulness sessions and a beautiful reception was held at The Farm at Eagles Ridge to foster genuine connections!

The Chesapeake Bay is home to 17 million people and over 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals. At one time, the Chesapeake Bay was the biggest, most active estuary in the United States. However, the growth of industry, agriculture, and human population has lead to a decrease in species, livable land and water quality. Through partnerships such as the Choose Clean Water Coalition, the National Wildlife Federation, and other sponsors, conferences like this help build our collective capacity to advance the pace of change  by connecting organizations across the Chesapeake Bay Region.

Thanks to everyone who made this conference wonderful! And Happy Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week! To find out what’s going on in the watershed, click here!

Written by Ayron E. Walker, Foodshed Network Assistant with the Chesapeake Foodshed Network. Ayron is a graduate student at Virginia Tech where she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Community and Behavioral Sciences.



"Time For Some Action: Making Moves Towards an Equitable Food System in the Chesapeake Foodshed"

A CFN blog post for Food Solution New England’s Racial Equity Building Challenge.

The CFN’s Inaugural Steering Team Meeting took place on November 9, 2017 at the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) Conference in Baltimore, MD.

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