There was a great article that came up a few days ago on the MPR website about smaller farms coming together to buy larger trucks to create delivery systems for themselves. It is a story that needs to get read and talked about because distribution issues need to be solved for local eating to become more stable. If anyone was at “Policy and a Pint” this last spring, it also came up in the conversation there.
The article (rightly) raises the question of financial viability of such an endeavor. Unfortunately, the answer from one of the industry experts was shocking:
“It’s probably useful to know that organic food has been growing at double-digit rates for several years, and in total still occupies less than 3 percent of the total food sales,” Kinsey said.
Full article: Organic farmers hope trucks increase business
This to me is an example of how people who are in the food system, think about the food system. Getting food locally is being dismissed as a small number. This movement, really can’t amount to much. I am sure these were some of the same thoughts that when large scale grocery stores started coming in to small towns and the butcher shops, the bakeries, and the farmers markets thought, well, this idea of a “grocery store” can’t work. It is just a fad. Possibly, when even the idea of feeding excess corn to cows started. I bet there were a number of people in our government, on farms, and the general population that thought, this is just an idea that won’t work. In comparison, yes, it is small, but, really, what is wrong with starting small? (Last time I checked a couple of guys who started a small “computer company” and named it after a fruit were doing pretty well.)
The total food sales? NOW, there I have a question. Where is that research, and who was surveyed? When was that research done? Where was the research done? I would love to know a lot more about that research. Who funded the research? What was the point of the research to begin with? What questions were being asked?
The point of this article for me is to get people to stop talking about if this is a fad or not, and go on hard facts. One fact: this is not something new. This idea of eating locally has been around forever. it had a lot to do with how this country was founded and how this country ran for a very long time. Another fact: with human rights abuses, animal abuses, the massive rise in food allergies, bovine hormone injections (largely unlabeled) linked to human and bovine health risks, overfishing, topsoil erosion, water scarcity, and (unfortunately) more, we have got to change the way we get our food. The commodity food system is just so pervasive over the past 60 years that we have forgotten that we have the ability to try something a new and, to borrow a line from the computer guys who named their company after a fruit; to think differently.
I would like to ask all those that read this blog and support local family farms to send an email to Jean Kinsey and give her your feedback as to why you don’t think this is just a fad. Again, we know the power of people being called to action. Maybe, just maybe, that if more people speak up and say what is on their mind, those in the food industry might change the way they think about what is possible.
Co-Director, The Food Industry Center
317b Classroom Office Building
1994 Buford Avenue
St Paul, MN 55108
In the interest of being fair. Please do not send her any mail that is negative. I would like for people to share stories of how they eat and how they accomplish things locally. Also, I personally have sent Jean and email and have informed her of this blog post.