The Silver City Food Coop is beginning a series of forums…
The topic of this first forum, to be held on Thursday, March 16th at 7 PM, is:
Creating a Local, Sustainable Food System for Our Community.
The forum will be held at Alotta Gelatto, 619 N. Bullard, Silver City.
Local and Regional Food Systems
What is a local food system and why is it important?
Local food is about having the right to know where your food came from, who produced it and how, and the chance to buy food that supports your local community and reflects your values. It’s about re-weaving a complex web of connections – social, economic, ecological, and political in nature – that are being torn asunder by our global food system.
Have you ever bitten into a garden-fresh tomato and experienced an incredible burst of flavor? Do you get that same burst of flavor when you bite into a perfectly round and red tomato from the supermarket? Chances are, your answers are “yes” and “no.” There’s a reason for that.
Most food at the supermarket was picked days, weeks or even months ago, and shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles. The produce varieties were selected for their appearance or to their ability to withstand being stored or shipped-not necessarily for good flavor or nutritional value. So a Chandler strawberry, very sweet but with a short shelf life, is probably never going to make it into your supermarket, nor will a ripe, succulent peach or a just-picked snowpea.
How far did your food travel? On the average, about 1,500 miles from farm to fork. It is “elderly, well-traveled produce,” in the words of nutritionist Joan Gussow. And it is increasingly likely to travel all the way from Chile, Mexico, New Zealand or Guatemala, as a global food system imports produce from all over the world. Many items are now available 24/7, year-round.
How can we know when tomatoes or peaches are in season when we can get them throughout the year? Does it really matter?
Locally grown food, if properly handled, is likely to be fresher and therefore more nutritious. It protects the environment by avoiding the massive energy use and pollution involved in long-distance shipping. And buying locally produced goods also gives an important boost to the local economy as dollars circulate to other businesses in the area. It helps build community and “social capital,” or a set of relationships that make communities more resilient and livable, especially when you buy directly from the farmer or producer.
Keeping local agriculture viable also helps build local and regional food security. Local production is less vulnerable to disruption of the transportation system by natural disasters or sabotage. It is typically more responsive to the needs of the community, given the personal connections that develop between producers and consumers. For lower-income communities, community control is an especially important issue, partly because the conventional supermarket industry has largely abandoned poorer neighborhoods.
Local food is about much more than just season and place, and it doesn’t mean having to give up oranges, bananas and coffee. It’s knowing where your food came from, who produced it and how. Buying food grown closer to home is not a quaint throwback to an agrarian age. It is a powerful tool for transforming our economy away from a race to the bottom in environmental and health standards, and toward an economy that is based on principles of democracy, community, health and sustain-ability.
These events are coordinated by the Member Linkage Committee (MLC) of the SCFC’s Board of Directors. Each forum will be proceeded by and consist of an open meeting of the MLC and a facilitated discussion of a more global issue. The MLC meeting will begin at 6 PM and is open to all interested people. For more info contact Martha Egnal at email@example.com or 313-3691.