The Allegheny Front Rewind: Food Series Still Gives Something to Chew On

It's the Allegheny Front's 20th year on air. Kara Holsopple has been sifting through our archives each week for the Allegheny Front Rewind. This week she joins Jennifer Szweda Jordan at a local farmer's market. She turns the tables on the host and asks some burning questions about how the Earth's Bounty food and environment series started and how food issues have been simmering since.

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AMBI Outdoor crowd sound

HOLSOPPLE: At the Phipps Conservatory Farmer's market in Pittsburgh farmers boast...

NAT SOUND FARMER: You won't get it any fresher, it came out of the oven at 11:30 today.

HOLSOPPLE: And customers struggle to choose...

NAT SOUND CUSTOMERS: Oh wait, are these plums or something back there, or are those potatoes?

HOLSOPPLE: Even here on a shopping trip, Jennifer Szweda Jordan can't help but play the part of reporter with Shauna Frantz-Deppe at the Clarion River Organics stand...

JORDAN: Oh, elderberries! Whatís the story with elderberries?

FRANTZ-DEPPE: They're like a medicine box...apparently the Amish folk make vaccines out of them for their kids..

HOLSOPPLE: While Jennifer had questions for the farmers, I have half a dozen food questions for her.

Why did you decide to work on a sustainable food series, what motivated you?

JORDAN: I've always liked foodÖI went to cooking school here in Pittsburgh, and it's something that's accessible for people. A lot of times when we're talking about environmental issues or problems, they seem very large. But food is something that's very celebratory and people's choices can have an impact on the environment.

HOLSOPPLE: As a trained chef, you know a lot about food. Did anything surprise you as you were researching and reporting on this series?

JORDAN: Just how there was news every week. I couldn't begin to really cover it even though that's pretty much all I was doing 40 hours a week for a year.

HOLSOPPLE: Do you think there have been changes in food production, agriculture, local sustainable production, or local foods?

JORDAN: It seems like things have evolved a lot more. We're at this farmer's market now which is relatively new, I think it's been here three or so years, and you can see it's expanded quite a bit. I think when I was starting this beat, there weren't a lot of restaurants in this area, right, that were doing local food. And you see a lot now.

HOLSOPPLE: What do you think about Pittsburgh in terms of its comparison to how its embraced local foods and sustainable agriculture as opposed to other parts of the country?

JORDAN: A few years ago I went to the first Slow Food USA event in San Francisco, and frankly I though Pittsburgh was kind of on par with what they were doing out there. When I talk to other people in doing sustainable agriculture stories from other areas they are always talking about how active the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture is.

HOLSOPPLE: Do you have a favorite story from the series or a favorite topic that you covered?

JORDAN: My favorite part about covering sustainable agriculture has just been meeting the people, meeting the farmers we see here today and meeting people over the years who just have kind of a real dedication to what they're doing in spite of the fact theyíre probably not making a ton of money. And just what they have hereóit's like art. All the colors and the smells, it's just so beautiful.

HOLSOPPLE: What kinds of things to you look for when you come to the farmer's market for yourself?

JORDAN: I like to get meats here, it's kind of the only place I buy meats. And I like to buy their eggs---oh, I love the color of thisóthis is such a silly thing but--I love the color of this egg carton. Is there a story behind that?...

BARTLOG: Well, we just chose green because we thought it would be distinctive...

HOLSOPPLE: There she goes again, getting the scoop on the food scene. For The Allegheny Front Rewind, I'm Kara Holsopple, with Jennifer Szweda Jordan.

JORDAN: It's kind of an almost neon green, but grassy looking cartonÖ