Food Safety Laws Threaten CSAs and Organic Farms?

Food safety has become a critical issue over the past few years with the most recent peanut butter recall causing lawmakers to strengthen laws to protect consumers.

But in the process, there’s been much chatter this past week regarding how several food safety bills — notably senate bill 425 — impact local farmers, CSAs, and small organic farms. One blogger who has studied the bill says aside from the threat to CSAs and organic farms, small, backyard farm plots would be subject to fines if the bill was passed into law.

The interpretation of any proposed law is tricky and the implications are hard to guess. What’s important, though, is that lawmakers carefully read the bill to make a sound choice. Consumers should also weigh in on the topic. A good place to start is this blog by Sacred Lotus Photography, which has links to the proposed law. I’ll also continue to poke around and see what others are saying, and if you run into anything that’s related, please let us know.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Vegetably Engaged

Lynda, Jen and VeggiesMore than two dozen families picked up organic produce shares at the Kingston Natural Foods Buying Club yesterday, which included fruits and veggies such as: kale; Swiss “Rainbow” chard; apples; pears; avocados; carrots; onions; Romaine lettuce; cilantro; and an orange.

What was most enjoyable, to me, was that everyone who stopped by 33 Broadway to pick up shares were happy. I mean they were brimming-with-grins happy. Folks talked to one another, catching up after a long winter. Some new friends were made. The boxes of fresh greens and fruits were admired, and people talked about what they were going to make with their produce. They were socially engaged.

All of this was a wonderful reminder why people need to interact with one another, face-to-face, in a meaningful way.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

I’ll Have the Chop Suey


As this wiki article points out, Chop Suey is likely a pure American-Chinese invention — one that has found a place in our popular culture. From Edward Hopper to Sinclair Lewis, chop suey is ingrained in our cultural DNA.

The story also has a photo of Kingston’s own Chop Suey sign, which are rare today. The sign belongs to Eng’s Chinese Restaurant on Broadway. If you get a chance to eat there, please do. The food is great. You’ll also learn from a small sign in the lobby that Eng’s was established in 1927 (first on Wall Street, which featured the old “Tea Garden” sign), and is likely to be the oldest Chinese food restaurant between New York and Albany.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Library Funding

The Kingston Library website has a large “call to action” asking visiting to sign a petition to keep funding for public libraries. See the petition here.

According the the petition, funding to libraries is threatened by the state’s executive budget. In support of libraries, the petition cites recent trends that show usage for public libraries are up, and that in many communities, a large majority of users have Internet access solely through their libraries.

On that last point, the work of Ev Mann and Mark Greene (with his initiative) seek to bridge the digital divide via programs, workshops and internships. And libraries certainly have a role in doing the same.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

Clearly Energized

Last night’s Hudson Valley Progression Coalition meeting — its first formal event — was a big hit. More than 200 people packed Back Stage Studio Productions to hear remarks from Congressman Mo’ Hinchey as well as green economy insights from Melissa Everett of Sustainable Hudson Valley, Jessica Barry of Prism Solar Technologies and Patrice Courtney-Strong of Mid-Hudson Energy $mart Communities.

Read more…

Coffee and Music

Karin Edmundson penned a nice article about our good friends at Monkey Joe Coffee Roasting Co. here in Kingston. The article, which can be read here, appears in the March issue of the Catskill Mountain Region Guide.

Monkey Joe co-owners Gabe and Kathy have some neat quotes in the story, which reminds us that they roast single-origin coffee. The story also ties in Gabe’s love of music and the couple’s mindfulness of being good citizens and stewards of the environment.

At one point in the story, Edmundson writes, “Some time later, a fellow came over and asked about help in selling his guitar and—just before I left—a slight young man in a navy pea coat and fashionable slacks entered the café, ordered his usual brew from the counter and measured out a bag of coffee beans. This somewhat dashing (for downtown Kingston) figure turned out to be a talented music producer who has worked with the likes of Daniel Lanois.”

Edmundson didn’t name the music producer, but by her description, it is no other than Ward 9 resident Malcolm Burn.

Green Economy Program This Friday

The Hudson Valley Progressive Coalition is having an event this Friday, March 6 between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at Backstage Studio Productions (323 Wall Street in Kingston). The title of the program is “Federal Stimulus, Local Strategies: Building a Green Economy in the Mid Hudson Valley.”

The program should be a “must attend” for anyone who sees the role of a green economy in these new macro-economic realities as a high priority.

To learn more about the stimulus package, which includes policy changes and a high-speed rail system, check out this New York Times page.

To RSVP to HVPC event, email Vicki Stockard at

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz

High Honors for Jazz Students

The Freeman reports today that the Kingston High School Jazz Ensemble is “one of 15 school jazz bands from across the country to qualify as finalists for this year’s prestigious 14th annual Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival at Lincoln Center in New York City.”

The students will compete with other ensembles, and attend workshops. The program/festival culminates with a performance. Read the article here. To read more about the festival, click here.