Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Building a local food system

It has been surprising to me how much local food is available, even at this time of year when food should be at it's most difficult to find.  That, all by it's self gives me hope.  BUT, it is not easy to find.  These micro-producers don't advertise.  Word of mouth is the only way to find them.  That's OK for me.  I'm finding what we need, and the information pool is growing. 

This morning I flipped on the news while the coffee was brewing (no, it's not local... it is fair trade, and I'm looking for a better local source, but I'll not give up my coffee).  The big news of the morning was Steve Jobs leaving Apple again.  Everyone thinks the company will tank again until he comes back.  My first thought was, "What a fragile company!"  Then, as my brain tends to do, my thoughts wandered into the fragility of the food system I was creating.  You see, the difference between a small (micro) farmer/food producer and a company like Apple is that even though Apple has been dependant on the inspiration and leadership of Mr. Jobs, the company will continue to exist, function, and possibly even thrive without him, while a small/micro food producer/farm usually will not survive the loss of the farmer/producer.  Often they wont even survive a year of bad weather, credit problems, sickness, etc.  Local food systems built on small producers need redundancy.  To keep all those redundant producers going requires more customers.  And then I stopped thinking...

Later in the morning (around 6:00 am) I turned on the computer to check out my virtual world.  One of the posts that popped up was about the "Transformative Power of Social Media Marketing in the Foodshed".  Eleanor made me think about my role as a producer, a consumer, and an activist in the local food movement.  It's the activist part that I shy away from.  Activist implies (in my mind at least) confronting institutions or regulations.  I have a more Akido like approach to life, bending, swaying, going around.  So, I may rant about regulations or corporations, but I rarely confront them head on.  I feel kind of guilty about that.  But, maybe this is the solution.  If I actively work on building and promoting a local food system, then I'm being and activist, and being nonconfrontational at the same time.  It is good for me and mine.  It is good for the community.  It doesn't attract too much attention from the regulators, and it makes a difference here. 

So, besides blogging (which is a very personal thing) I want to build a local producer e-network (like Local Harvest except MUCH smaller.)  ANYONE HAVE ANY IDEA HOW AN E- LUDDITE LIKE ME GOES ABOUT THAT KIND OF PROJECT?

I'm also going to get more involved in local food efforts in my community.  To start, I'll be attending a screening of FRESH tonight with a group of local producers, chefs, and concerned citizens.  More on that tomorrow.

How are you being active in building a local food system?
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