Local Food Movement


Local Food Movement

 

“People are making big changes in what they eat, why they eat it, and the connections they make to companies.” (Ken Cook, Executive direct of the Environmental Working Group quoted in Douglass Gayeton’s, Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America [Harper Design: New York 2014], pg. 249.)

“[P}eople are increasingly aware that their hyper-accelerated super-improved lives are missing something. They’re rethinking not only what they eat but where it comes from. This crusade has a name: the Local Food Movement.” (Gayeton, pg. 17)

In 1940 “[s]ome 20 million Victory Gardens were planted (U.S. population in 1940 was 132 million), and by 1943 these little plots produced 40% of all vegetables consumed in the U.S. and Victory Gardens sprang up on farms, in backyards, and on city rooftops.” (Sarah Sundin. “Victory Gardens in World War II.” www.sarahsundin.com. http://www.sarahsunlin.com/victory-gardens-in-world-war—ii. (accessed January 23, 2018).

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The Local Food Movement: A Revolution or a Fad?

Is “local” the latest food fad? Or is it here to stay? “Local” is now a popular marketing tool for major players in the retail food industry. Much like “organic”, the term reflects a growing customer demand, as we see “local product” shelf headers in more and more grocery stores.    

At the same time, research shows the Local Food Movement has travelled too far to be dismissed as simply a marketing fad. Why? Too many people are part of this emerging movement; more importantly, many see “local food” as a necessity as we transition to an ecologically sustainable food system. A system that aligns with the initiative of healing of our planet. Many people see the Local Food Movement as another way they can contribute to an alternative means of resourcing aside from the detrimental practices of the industrialized, fossil-fuel-based agricultural system.

The Local Food Movement Shapes Making Mindful Manna

A challenge that presents itself for Mederi Garden is to locally source each of the carefully-selected ingredients. Our current initiative: source all ingredients from self-sustaining local foodsheds (a food shed is a geographic region that produces food for the area population). Although the journey towards crafting this goal has begun, we are aware that there are a multitude of steps to travel before we get there. We currently source our organic pecans--a signature ingredient in all our Manna--from Texas farmers. Moving forward, our plan includes reaching out to farmers in and around Central Texas to expand our range of locally-sourced ingredients. We are excited to embark on this journey and grateful for a chance to contribute to building the Central Texas local food shed.

The big picture. Some of our sourcing will involve creative distribution and interchange from foodsheds outside the state. For example, we will likely continue sourcing organic maple syrup from Maine as long as we make sure we are protecting and energizing regional food sheds in the northeast geographic region. The mission is to act with the primary purpose that allows people to reduce reliance on the industrial food system. This is an example of how the Local Food Movement will require creativity, as well as an openness to see it as an emerging process, a revolution!

United We Stand.

We—Maria, Noah, Adam and I—are united in bringing forth the Local Food Movement.

Our calling has deep roots. Maria grew up on a farm in northern Nicaragua where her father grew sorghum, corn, yuca, squash, watermelon and five varieties of beans. Her family farm included chickens and a milk cow (named Cola Blanca, “White Tail” in English). Native fruits and berries showered the farm providing an abundance of guyavas, nancites, jocote (to name just a few). Her experience growing up surrounded by the generative power of nature, with a diversity of plant and animal life, has blessed her with a gift of seeing the vanishing of our green spaces, and destruction of animal habitat. In the United States now for more than twenty-five years, her eyes see and her heart feels the pain of an industrial economic system that neglects external costs, a system that erodes rather than generates life. (Is this really “development”?)

My own moment of clarity came a couple of years after we started our business. The vision we created for Mederi Garden centered on health, healing and holiness concepts; on food as a building-block for community. These values marked a sharp contrast to the mission and values of the Houston-area community college where I worked (as a history instructor up until Summer of 2017). Most attention of the college leadership touted the wonderful opportunity we had to be the “lead college” in the Gulf Coast Petrochemical Initiative. On Professional Development day, our President declared the faculty responsibility to train students for thousands of new jobs in Houston-area refineries. Not one college program, course, or organization drew attention to the energy crisis, nothing on how to create and participate in building an economy beyond fossil fuels; no college commitment to address the upcoming, inevitable climate crisis, not a word on facing the “long emergency” to use Howard Kunstler’s term (and title of his most revealing book…The Long Emergency).

Soon after college leadership celebrated this so-called opportunity I penned a letter of resignation a year later surrendering an eighteen-year teaching career!

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Open Hearts for the Local Food Movement!

Research into the local food movement has graced us with an introductory education we need to see how our company can contribute. In this sense learning about building local foodsheds has come at the perfect time. We’re expanding our business and have a heart-felt desire to do what we can to bring health, healing, and holiness to our world. The Local Food Movement is alive, and we—Maria, Noah, Adam, and other team members—share in that aliveness. We are joyful at the calling to add our voices to the chorus of local food catalysts here in Austin, and we can see “connection” between building our granola business while working for a larger, expansive, universal calling. Indeed, they are one and the same. We have no agenda, no organizational plan only an intention to bring healing back in our communities; to connect with others who feel called as well; to make eating food a sacred act once again.

Several books have open our eyes to this revolutionary moment in history. Michael Brownlee’s The Local Food Revolution: How Humanity Will Feed Itself in Uncertain Times is top of the list. Please read this book, and see below on how to connect with Brownlee.   Brownlee and other Local Food Movement co-creators are ecological catalysts. He expresses our current state in a most poetic and moving way:

“We hunger for meaningful connection with the earth. We hunger for connection with the cycles and processes of nature, for connection with the sacredness of life. And we hunger for connection in community with each other…..[S]omething new is stirring across the land—a much-needed revolution in the way humanity feeds itself. We are beginning to take back our food supply, reclaiming our food sovereignty, and building local foodsheds.” (Brownlee, The Local Food Revolution, [North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, 2016] pgs. 4-5).

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What’s next? The following Local Food Movement concept map is a creative way to learn the diverse concepts—and the terminology--we need to understand as we move forward, as we energize our collective calling and make the intuitive, heart-felt transition to local foods. This “mind map” is a conversation starter, a way to engage, connect, share, and educate. Want more? Please check out Brownlee’s www.localfoodshift.pub/category/current-issue and/or http://localfoodrevolution.pages.ontraport.net to discover more.

The Local Food Movement really does involve the intuitive awareness—the changing planetary consciousness—so many of us are giving birth to right now!