Even as traditional environmentalism struggles, another movement is rising in its place, aligning consumers, producers, the media and even politicians. It’s the food movement, and if it continues to grow it may be able to create just the sort of political and social transformation that environmentalists have failed to achieve in recent years. That would mean not only changing the way Americans eat and the way they farm — away from industrialized, cheap calories and toward more organic, small-scale production, with plenty of fruits and vegetables — but also altering the way we work and relate to one another. To its most ardent adherents, the food movement isn’t just about reform — it’s about revolution.Food is something that affects everybody, and now that people are starting to realize that the mainstream food supply is poisoned:
There are now thousands of community-supported agriculture programs around the country, up from just two in 1986. There are more than 6,000 farmers’ markets, up 16% from just a year ago. Sales of organic food and beverages hit nearly $25 billion in 2009, up from $1 billion in 1990, and no less a corporate behemoth than Walmart has muscled into the organic industry, seeking out sustainable suppliers. Green chefs like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., have become national superstars, and local sourcing has become a must for hip restaurants in Brooklyn, Berkeley and in between. First Lady Michelle Obama — she of the organic White House garden — has decided to make childhood obesity her signature issue, and she’s done so by pushing the food industry to provide healthier fruits and vegetables over cheap processed options. Even the Department of Agriculture — usually a staunch ally of mainstream farming and the distributor each year of billions in often wasteful agricultural subsidies — has gotten into the sustainability game with its “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program, which connects consumers with local producers.And another really simple point:
Simple: it’s about pleasure. Before the political games, before worries about dead zones and manure lagoons, before concerns about obesity and trans fat, the food movement arose around a simple principle: food should taste better.Bobbi Anne Hancock and Jim Parker discuss how it’s good for you and tastes good, too!
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.
The pictured local food project, Blazer Gardens, seems to have run into some sort of politics; it’s no longer supposed to be referred to as Blazer Gardens at VSU, and it’s not clear whether it has access to those greenhouses, but that’s another story.