They set out to grow affordable food and found an incredible community.

Jamie Chen had never thought much about food production until her mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Her mom's doctor recommended organic foods, something Jamie had never heard of. Following doctor's orders, the family went to Whole Foods, but the prices were astronomical compared with the price tags at the local Chinese markets where they usually shopped. She told us, "My dad saw the receipt and immediately said we should never go back."

With the family facing huge medical costs, it was just too expensive.


Jamie and her mom, spending quality time in a garden. Image by Jamie Chen, used with permission.

Eventually, the family found a cheaper, bulk organic place about 25 minutes away from them where they'd stock up on foods for Jamie's mom. It was trial and error for the whole family. She remembers her mom cooking "weird colored rice, which none of us really liked, so she would make two pots — one for her and a mix of white and brown rice for us."

The entire experience was an aha moment for Jamie that set the wheels turning. She started thinking about food and where it was produced.

Image via La Mesa Verde, used with permission.

Fresh produce can be expensive — even more so for anyone seeking organic foods, which can cost up to 47% more than the alternative.

If a family is already struggling to pay its bills, advice like Jamie's mom got from her doctor is just not feasible. Growing your own food can help, but many people don't have access to the resources and skills needed to garden.

So when Jamie heard about La Mesa Verde, she knew she had to get involved.

The gardening community La Mesa Verde empowers families by providing them with access to food and skills.

Their target group? Low-income families who want to eat better but can't afford to do so. Located in San Jose, California, La Mesa Verde is ready and willing to help — since their founding in 2009, they've built gardens for over 500 families and currently have 120 families actively participating in the program. Jamie is currently the manager at La Mesa Verde.

She told Upworthy, "I saw the immense potential that this community has for building power and making real change in the food system." So she jumped on board.

Through La Mesa Verde, families gain both the skills and knowledge necessary to grow vegetables — allowing them access to fresh, homegrown foods without putting their budgets at risk.

Image via SPUR/Flickr.

Over the course of a year, families are taught everything possible about growing vegetables and delicious ways to prepare them.

And while they join La Mesa Verde seeking fresh food options, they also find community. Jamie explains, "People help each other out. They go to each other’s houses to plant trees, they share seeds, they share recipes."

Many participants devote so much of themselves to the program and to this way of life that when the year ends, they aren't ready to leave La Mesa Verde behind.

Image via La Mesa Verde, used with permission.

Seeing the community they'd created, La Mesa Verde created a more advanced gardening program for members who waned to remain active beyond the first year. And those members refer their friends, neighbors, and family into the program. And as the community grows, so does its power.

While gardening lies at the core of La Mesa Verde, it's only just the beginning.

When Jamie's mom passed away, Jamie took over grocery shopping and cooking for her family. At the time, she wasn't thinking about activism or community building. She just wanted to heal, and to help her family to heal.

But after meeting with members of La Mesa Verde and hearing about their health struggles, their fight to heal their bodies after cancer diagnosis, and their inability to find affordable fresh produce in their traditional markets, Jamie saw how closely their experiences mimicked hers. She says,

"I see my mom in them, this soft but defiant commitment to having at least some power over what goes into our bodies that have already been damaged. I see hope, too, that we can try together to make real food that doesn't make us sick available to everyone. Cancer can make a family really lonely, so having [the La Mesa Verde] community becomes doubly important when we are sick."

A year ago, La Mesa Verde started a campaign to transform empty lots in San Jose into community gardens. In December 2015, their efforts were rewarded: The push to transform the empty lots was named the third legislative priority for 2016.

Image via La Mesa Verde, used with permission.

Members are organizing and finding out how and where they can effect the most change. And with the size of their community and the lives that they've changed, they'll be unstoppable.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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