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.