Below, find an article about an anti-local author from Canada, of all places. Never forget these folks are out there, writing and speaking to other academics and a few decision-makers too.
My feeling is that these are the same type of folks who told us that nuclear power would be “too cheap to meter”, that global weather instability was “bad science’, that health care insurers know more than we do about costs and so on. A healthy suspicion of energetic movements is fine, but to limit food movements to upper middle class foodies buying fancy items is a short view of the many outcomes that come from alternative food systems. What about (to name just a few) healthier menus, soil reclamation, farmer generation, multi-cultural mapping, seasonal food increase, smarter regional planning, more public edible or low-water usage landscaping, biodiversity education, seed-saving, mental health projects, child health, social cohesion, geographical awareness?
What also occurs to me is he seem blissfully unaware that he views industrial ag as having the purpose of being for all when it is actually only for profit-making corporations. And then argues that food activists (“locavores” as he terms us) only want better food for their class and ignore the “realities” of the social woes in the larger system. I laugh aloud when I see or hear this, as I know that many, many food activists came to it from other social movements because they know it is a necessary approach for every system, whether we are talking about education, childcare, aging, anti-racism, environmental issues, immigrant reform, healthcare and so on.
Unfortunately, often we play into hands such as these with our gorgeous color photos of someone carrying a root vegetable who looks like they’re from upper-class middle America (read young, trim white person in overalls with white teeth and skin smiling from the cover of the report who tell us inside about their transformation from college kid to new farmer as they work in some “underserved” area) rather than reporting a before and after of what health crisis our citizens have saved themselves from by turning to human-scaled sustainable agriculture.
Stories should abound of activists who came to this to reclaim their health from their own degenerative medical conditions, or of those who lost the last of the soil on their farm or those who use it to engage multi-cultural communities. Or of communities organizing around cultural assets to create true wealth, and it just so happens that those assets happen to be food based.
Actually, I don’t worry too much about these writers. I don’t worry that much because I know that those we have already reached with our message so far have taken the time to consider the alternatives, so won’t be easily swayed. The audience for writers such as these may therefore even smaller than ours! And most of those who haven’t joined the good food revolution yet aren’t reading academics like this.
But as I said at the beginning, for some policymakers, this argument would be appealing. After all, inertia is an easy thing to allow. And I know that brands are powerful: there are people among us that remember being called: 1950s “reds”, 1960s “dirty hippies”, 1970s and 1980s “tree-huggers”, 1990s “angry queers” and so on. Smart people; they turned those tables and labels to their advantage and still made change in their time. Let’s do the same here. Gather data on your impact and share it widely. It’s the best way to silence the Chicken Littles of the industrial world.
Community activist, public market consultant and writer
Working since the 1980s on social change issues while encouraging civic activity across North America. I live in the Gumbo Nation (New Orleans) and raised here some but mostly in Buckeye Nation (Cleveland). I provide support and consulting for localized food systems, especially farmers markets. Bicycling, clean water, pocketbook issues, true wealth generation, reanimating public spaces and direct action democracy are also within my focus. Have blogged for a decade, have published essays and non-fiction since 2001.
Independent Researcher and Trainer Darlene Wolnik offers:
Analysis: Research and reports on public market organizational structure and governance or logistics.
Conference or workshop preparation: Building or running educational/networking events for food organizers.
Grants: Assistance with public market project grant-writing including research of subject, draft narrative and final editing.
Reports: Researching and writing for public market organization or food system projects.
Speaking: Keynote speeches or workshop development and/or facilitation.
Technical Assistance: Phone, email, webinar or in-person technical assistance for public market startups or project work for market organizations. Phone, email, webinar or in-person technical assistance for funders or stakeholders of food system projects.
Fees upon request: a percentage of pro bono time offered with most individual market-level projects.
This blog focuses on the intersection of retail anthropology and social justice issues in order to start some ideas flowing and conversation about how we can use public markets.
It's updated Mondays and Thursdays.
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Darlene Wolnik-Helping Public Markets Grow
Recent and current work:
•Independent research for case studies of governance of markets. Found at helpingpublicmarketsgrow dot com
• Independent research for market characteristics. Found at
helpingpublicmarketsgrow dot com
•Brooklyn NYC-Conducted a series of trainings for community markets for the Brooklyn District Public Health Office (BDPHO).
•Brooklyn NYC- Assisted BDPHO with developing farmers market technical assistance programs.
•Colorado-Assisting Boulder Farmers Markets with strategy sessions.
•Farmers Market Coalition-Writer/Researcher: Assisting with University of Virginia Morven Summer Institute course on farmers market evaluation.
•Farmers Market Coalition: Writer/Researcher for training and technical assistance project.
•Louisiana: Assisted LSU AgCenter and Farmers Market Coalition with first statewide market conference.
•Louisiana: Assisting students at Southeastern University in Hammond with food system research and farmers market strategy.
*Louisiana: Assisting Urban Conservancy with day-long Community Wealth Workshop featuring Michael Shuman in New Orleans LA
• Maine: Researched farmers market job descriptions for People's Regional Opportunity Program work with farmers markets.
•Mississippi: Assisting Gulf Coast markets with surveys for location and customer/vendor satisfaction.
•NOFA-VT- Designed and led evaluation workshop for VT markets.
•VT-Dept of Ag: Researching SNAP, FMNP technology and policy answers for VT farmers markets in collaboration with NOFA-VT
•Wallace Center: Researching and writing case studies of successful direct marketing Mississippi farmers and markets.
*Why Hunger: Creating online toolkit for grassroots communities in 3 regions.
*Creating articles and researching resources for WhyHunger's Food Security Learning Center
Feel free to contact me at my name at gmail dot com I might be able to help your market or business.
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