Events coming up this week

I didn’t manage to compile calendars the past couple of weeks, but I wanted to get back on track today, because there are lots of newsworthy events happening in the coming week around Iowa.

I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to the DAWN’s List reception honoring outstanding Iowa Democratic women tomorrow. I’d appreciate it if someone who attends would post a comment or a diary here about the reception.

Other notable events this week include a symposium in Des Moines about Iowa’s 2008 floods, a sustainable communities conference in Dubuque, and a public workshop in Ankeny about competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. Details on those and other happenings are after the jump.

Keep checking John Deeth’s blog for news about statewide, Congressional and state legislative candidate filings, which continue through March 19.

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Year in review: Bleeding Heartland on food and parenting in 2009

This blog will always be primarily about politics, but I enjoy writing about other subjects from time to time. In fact, one of my new year’s resolutions for Bleeding Heartland is to write more about food and parenting in 2010.

After the jump I’ve compiled links to posts on those topics in 2009. Some of the diaries were political, others are personal. The link I’m most proud of combined the two: My case against Hanna Rosin’s case against breastfeeding.

Any thoughts or suggestions for future topics to cover are welcome in this thread.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

There aren’t many political events during the second half of December, but there’s plenty going on during the next couple of weeks. Event details are after the jump. Post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something I’ve left out.

If I can shake this cold I plan to attend the Culver-Judge holiday party this Saturday. Any other Bleeding Heartland readers going?

State Representative Chris Rants and Jonathan Narcisse have already started their debate series. You can view the schedule and download mp3s of the debates here.

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USDA names Iowa Farm Service Agency committee members

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the names of five appointees to the Iowa Farm Service Agency State Committee yesterday. John Judge, Maria Vakulskas Rosmann, Matthew Russell, Richard Machacek, and Gary Lamb “will oversee the activities of the agency to include carrying out the state agricultural conservation programs, resolving appeals from the agriculture community and helping to keep producers informed about FSA programs.”

After the jump I’ve posted the USDA’s November 23 press release, which contains brief biographical information about the appointees. John Judge is the husband of Iowa Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge. She mentioned at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Saturday that they just celebrated their 40th anniversary.

I was happy to see two well-known voices from the sustainable agriculture community appointed to this USDA committee. Rosmann’s family runs a diverse organic farm and has been active with Practical Farmers of Iowa since the 1980s. I know Russell from his involvement in the Iowa Network for Community Agriculture, and I’ve also bought produce from his farm at the downtown Des Moines farmer’s market.

Congratulations to all the new Farm Service Agency State Committee members.

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Iowa local foods thread

Congratulations to the Iowa Food Cooperative, which is among 86 recipients of U.S. Department of Agriculture grants under the 2009 Farmers Market Promotion Program. If you live in the Des Moines area, check out what the Iowa Food Cooperative has to offer.

I missed the latest “Sample Sunday” at three farms near Woodward, because my kids wanted to go to the “Renaissance Faire” instead. (Couldn’t do that on Saturday because of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.) I admit that I enjoyed the combination of civil society and “fakelore” at the “faire,” but I would have rather been eating Northern Prairie Chevre cheese and Picket Fence Creamery ice cream than carnival food.

In August and September I absolutely love my weekly boxes of vegetables from One Step at a Time Gardens. Not long ago the largest kohlrabi I’ve ever seen showed up in one box. Apparently it is some kind of European variety that grows very big. I have farm-fresh, chemical-free potatoes as well, so it looks like I’ll be making kohlrabi and potato soup with caraway seeds this week, for the first time since last season.

You can find locally-grown fruits and vegetables in more and more major Iowa grocery stores, but you can often pay less for fresher food by buying directly from farmers. This page lists 126 farmers markets and fruit stands in Iowa. Many other farmers sell out of their trucks in urban parking lots or along country roads.

If you live in northeastern Iowa, I highly recommend the 2009 Buy Fresh Buy Local Food Directory, published by the Northern Iowa Food & Farm Partnership (NIFFP) at the University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy & Environmental Education. This guide covers grocers, farmers markets, local food producers and restaurants that serve local foods in Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Fayette, Floyd, Grundy, Mitchell and Tama counties. To download, go to the UNI’s Center for Energy & Environmental Education site, clicking on “Local Foods” and scrolling down to “Find Local Foods Near You.”

The Iowa Network for Community Agriculture has lots of good links here for consumers interested in local foods.

If you find it hard to incorporate seasonal foods in your diet, it may help to change some of your shopping and cooking habits.

The freshest and most economical food is the food you grow yourself, but I can’t help you there. Our yard is too shady for a garden, and even the tomato plant on our deck was a total failure this summer.

Please share your own local food stories, successes or disappointments in this thread.

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