About Chickens: Layers & Broilers

By Orion Valentin

I am Orion and I’ve worked at MAP for a year.  I am sixteen, I go to Charter High School for Applied Technology, and I am a softball player.  Sometimes I work on the farm and I watch our chickens running around.  At MAP our chickens are not laying chickens, they’re meat birds.  We will be using them to sell as meat, not to lay eggs.

Laying chickens begin to lay eggs at 15 to 16 weeks of age; they will lay eggs practically every day for the next year.  There isn’t any additional meat on them, they basically lay eggs up until they die, one day they just perish.  All their vitality is committed to laying eggs.

Broilers or meat birds are bred intentionally to be killed at a really young age. They need to be fed very elevated amounts of protein, like 28% of their diet is protein.

With little or no concern about the birds muscle quality, the eggs they lay are of lower quality then “laying eggs” because they have more tissue on their bodies.  The meat birds that you buy in the stores have been exterminated at 5 to 7 weeks or younger.

Meet Our Food Policy Council Youth

By: Kristen Janson

Meet Dillon and Lamar, the Food Policy Council's two youngest members. As one of MAP's interns, I was fortunate enough to have a chance to interview them and pick their brains about their experiences so far. To read more about what the Food Policy Council is all about, click here to read one of MAP's youth employee's report of the Council.  

How did you guys hear about the Food Policy Council (FPC), and what made you want to get involved?

Dillon (D). There was only one spot on the FPC originally, and Bekah asked me to take the position. I didn’t want to at first, I was afraid that I would have to lead meetings on my own. There was also discussion around starting a Youth Food Policy Council, and whoever sat on the adult FPC would serve as a liaison between the two. Bekah and I talked more though, and she encouraged me to write a letter to the steering committee for the FPC, asking if there could be two youth seats on the council so that it would be less intimidating for us, which ended up working. The Youth FPC hasn’t come together yet, so once Lamar agreed to join the FPC with me, I decided to go ahead with it.

Lamar (L). I heard about the FPC from being a member of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Youth Advisers Council. Dillon started coming to our YAC meetings where we were beginning to talk about improving school lunches, and joining the FPC seemed like a good fit. I applied and got the position.

What was the application process like?
D. I didn’t have to apply; Bekah had already recommended me to the position.

L. It was a lot like a college application; I had to answer questions about myself, and provide letters of recommendation and references.

What do you both feel like you can bring to the FPC?
D. I feel like I can provide a helpful youth perspective, because I am a student in the Buffalo Public School system and am the one currently eating school lunches. I feel like I have a vested interest in food policy at the school level.

L. I also feel like I can bring the youth perspective and provide similar insight into school lunches. In addition, I have experience with urban farming from my work with MAP and with policy work from my involvement in the YAC.

How has your experience with the FPC been so far? What are you guys up to?
L. So far we have had three meetings. We have been working on strategic planning and have decided on what kind of structure we want our meetings to have.

D. We have also brainstormed the types of committees and subcommittees/working groups we will form once we have some direction. They are, “Awareness and Education,” “Policy,” and “Advocacy and Justice”.

Where do you guys see yourselves fitting in to these committees?

D. I could see myself contributing to the “Awareness and Education” committee thanks to my work with MAP.

L. I could see myself fitting in to any of the committees really, I feel like I have a decent amount of experience with each of those areas; I haven’t decided on one yet.

Does the FPC have a mission statement yet?

D + L. We do, but we don’t remember the wording exactly. It has a lot of important buzzwords and is something along the lines of "seeking to strengthen and educate the community about regional food systems by raising awareness and advocating".

Do you guys feel intimidated by the being the youngest members of the FPC? Do you feel like you’ll be able to contribute?
D + L. It has been a little uncomfortable at these first couple of meetings only because we don’t have a lot of experience with making decisions about meeting structure and things like that. But we feel like once the council starts talking more about projects it will work on and the type of work it will do, we will have more to say. We are both excited to provide our perspectives and insight with the group, and really feel like we have a good chance to make a difference here.

MAP Youth Food Store Audits

By Khadijah Hussein 

This summer, MAP youth employees had the opportunity to participate in an audit of local food stores with the UB Food Lab.

Hi, my name is Khadijah Hussein and I am a freshman at International Preparatory School # 198 at Grover.  Today I’ll be writing a blog about my impressions and experiences during the summer of 2013 food store audit.  Before I begin, I will simply explain what we did during the audit.  During the audit, we went to different stores, wrote about what we saw, checked the prices for the products, whether there were healthy products or not, and much more.  So, I guess basically we went to see different stores, wrote down the facts, and shared our opinions about them.  The stores I audited were a convenience stores, 7-11, a grocery store, Aldis, and a big box store, Target.  We went to different locations, Springville, Williamsville, and in this area, Buffalo.  Some of our other co-workers went to different places but I can’t exactly remember where. 

One very interesting store we audited was 7-11.  We saw that in 7-11 there wasn’t so much of the food that we ware looking for to complete our project.  We were looking for bread, and were supposed to find white and whole wheat bread.  I think the whole wheat bread was missing.  Frozen dinner meats were also missing, we only found beef.  After the audit of 7-11, our group leader, Jordan, asked us our opinions, what we liked and didn’t like, and what was something new that we learned, that we didn’t know before.  We all had an opinion about the freshness of the food.  Each of us explained that the healthy food wasn’t as fresh as at other stores, and the most questionable things we each asked is why were most of the healthy foods missing, like whole wheat bread and frozen dinner meats.

In another conversation that took place after the audits, we all sat together as a program to share our experiences about the stores we each went to.  One of our youth co-workers, Aweso, shared his story about the banana.  Aweso said that one banana at Target was 70 cents.  He shared that one fact because he thought that it was weird that when he went to another store, like Tops, that banana would cost up to 20 to 30 cents less than at Target, the big box store they went to.  I personally think that, that banana shouldn’t cost that much money because basically it is just a small banana, and it also didn’t seem as fresh as the bananas at the other stores.  I think it costs that much because first, to begin with, big box stores really aren’t for food.  A big box store, like Target, is meant to shop for clothes, and when you get hungry and there is a banana for 70 cents there, Target probably knows that you won’t leave the store to go to another store just to buy a cheaper banana when there is already one there just for a couple cents more.

My overall thoughts about the audit was that it was a really interesting experience for myself and probably for the other people that I work with.  I don’t think though that big box stores, like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or Target, should sell bananas for that much money because it’s not fresh enough for it to cost that much, and my co-workers agree. 

Problems with Non-local Foods

By Javert Boudreau

For some people, a local food diet includes food from within a 100-mile radius, roughly the size of a large city and the surrounding suburbs or farms.  The word "local" is often used to describe smaller, family-owned businesses, or stores and restaurants specific to a certain area.  The idea of local foods operates similarly.  Local foods can describe foods that are native to, or at least able to grow in, a particular climate or region.  Non-local foods, in comparison, are foods shipped in from other areas, either states or countries.

Sure non-local foods can be good.  Without them, we would not have much of the produce sold in stores across the nation.  However, while buying from some South American country can bring foods to local stores, otherwise unavailable to the public, it can also have bad effects.  The planes, trains, boats, and trucks required to transport this stuff result in high amounts of pollution, as well as high prices for their cargo, due to the cost of gas.  The goods they carry also have little to no freshness by the time they arrive in the stores and are bought.

Buying nonlocal foods also damages your local community.  Many of the stores selling these foods are large companies, with chains spanning the country.  These stores divert income from smaller local businesses, eventually causing them to close and resulting in a lack of jobs.  This causes an increase in poverty, and soon, your street be looking ghetto.

So we talked about why you shouldn’t buy nonlocal foods, but why should you shop local?  Because some smart-mouth with a barely justified grudge against large corporations like Wal-Mart told you to?  No.  While you might be deprived of some foods, shopping local can help your environment and the local economy in the long run.

Shopping in local stores brings jobs to local people, which helps rejuvenate the economy.  Food bought from local farms is also fresher and cheaper (depending on the generosity of the farmer), and decreases pollution because there is no need to ship goods across the country.  Also, unlike large farming companies like Monsanto, a company known for using dangerous chemicals in conjunction with their foods, some local farms use little more than pesticides, and are much healthier as a result.  At MAP we grow all our foods naturally, using no chemicals or pesticides in the production of our food.

In total, the prosperity and healthiness of your community will, at the very least, lead to higher levels of happiness and mental abilities, which may, over time, turn your neighborhood into a supportive community.