What I believe
Before I get too far down the road on this trip, literally and figuratively, I think it’s important to spell out what I hope to accomplish and some of the preconceptions I’ve packed along with me.
First, the goals. Food Forward is a documentary TV series about the pioneers and innovators who are changing our food system. And does it ever need to change. Humans, animals and the planet itself all suffer from a system gone off the rails. The good news is there is a growing movement to create a more delicious, healthy and sustainable alternative. Over the course of my travels I want to more fully understand the depth and breadth of the movement by meeting the folks who are bringing these changes to life.
As I make my way across the county I’m guided by several notions. While I believe them to be true, I expect and even hope to have my beliefs challenged.
What I believe:
Small scale, locally sourced food is better:
- I’d rather get my food from producers within an hour of where I live because I believe they’re more accountable to their customers, they keep jobs and dollars in the community, the shorter distance to market burns less fuel, local food roots me to a time and a place, and helps me understand where my food comes from.
…but big business and industry must a play a role in a better food system:
- I shop at farmers markets as often as I can, but most people don’t. It’s a Pollanesque fantasy to imagine local farm stands and back yard garden plots replacing supermarkets and big ag, but that’s not going to happen, at least not until the price of oil doubles. Agribusiness is part of the problem, but it can be part of the solution. I’m keen to find out how.
Chemical-free food is better food:
- Actually, I doubt I’m going to change my mind about this one. If there’s a choice (and there is) I’ll take my food without pesticides, herbicides, petroleum-based fertilizers, and antibiotics on the side. Wouldn’t you?
Good food can bridge the political divide:
- Healthy food, healthy communities and a healthy environment are in everyone’s interest no matter what political affiliation you claim or no matter what Sarah Palin says. (Whatever happened to her, by the way?)
…and yet what we eat is largely a matter of class:
- Biodynamic, locally grown produce costs more than a bag of frozen spinach at Costco. Growing your own produce and cooking it from scratch sounds like the right thing to do, but it’s hard when you’re working two jobs and have a houseful of kids. How the sustainable food world shakes its elitist rap is a real puzzle.
Change will come from the bottom up, not top down:
- Those with political and economic power never give it up willingly. It must be demanded of them. The changes in the food system represent a fundamental break with the status quo that started at the grassroots level and it moving up. Who stands to benefit from this movement and the changes its bringing? Who stands to lose?
These are some of the beliefs and questions I have as I embark on this journey. I’m excited to see how this list will stand up over the miles ahead.