Do as I do, not as I say

Aug 03, 2015
Vicki Robin

SustainableCommunitiesThink of the 10-Day Local Food Challenge as a lifestyle laboratory where you test assertions made by food gurus of every stripe – including me. I like personal experiments, especially if I am really willing to let truth trump belief. That’s why I did my 30-day 10 mile diet that inspired the Challenge. I’ve continued to investigate local as an eating value, open to that it’s really of lesser importance, and it still inspires me – maybe more.

Here are my 3 top reasons (plus one) for local food as a way of life.

  1. It’s really better for me. In these last 5 years I’ve read books, talked to farmers, taken courses, and researched a book. I’ve learned a lot about soils, about gardening and farming methods, about agroecology and rotational grazing and inter-cropping and biodynamics. I’ve learned a bit about how a healthy gut can heal a world of ills. From all this I now know how nourishing, body and soul, food can be if sourced from smaller scale farms and ranches, and grown sustainably in rich, fertile soils close enough to home to be fresher, friendlier and more trustworthy.
  2. It’s really better for my local community. Buying from my local farmers naturally nourishes my local community and economy. We contribute to our shared prosperity as each food and farming business propsers. More farmers can flourish, can stay and raise their families, can be involved in one hundred + good causes because we buy their food. The connections we make through buying, cooking and sharing local food help us to “bloom where we are planted.” Community is a resource. It’s like a bank that stores shared memories and favors given and received. Or a fabric you are woven into, that can shelter you. We are literally “here” for one another. Local food is part of what I see will be a long trek back from alienation to “indigeneity.”
  3. It changes the world. We reclaim our minds, hearts and bodies from the consumer culture which brands us from birth, slots us into demographics for marketing and lures us into passivity through convenience. We seem to be forgetting how to be resourceful, relational, resilient, and marketing-resistant humans? Growing food reclaims our autonomy because we are less dependent on the store. Buying food from farm stands and farmers markets steps us out of corporate America and into diverse, caring, quirky, empowered ecosystems of real people. Cooking food is radical because we don’t need so many processed and packaged foods. We can make a roux rather than add a can of cream of mushroom soup. We can cut fresh herbs and turn “radicals” – i.e. roots – into great dishes.  We reclaim our senses of smell and taste and creativity. Bit by bit, we can take back our power in those places where we’ve given it away. All it takes is letting go of 3 assumptions:
    1. that we need the industrial food system to feed the world. Check this out.
    2. that we are too busy to buy and cook real food. If you come onto the membership site we’re going to bust this myth with ideas about making local easy with a course by a premier online cooking school designed specifically for local eaters.
    3. That local food costs more. In our Local Food Challenge community we’re also knocking that false god off its pedestal.

And here’s my Plus One. I am a learner and I take learning where it leads me. In upcoming posts I plan to share my investigation of food myths and truths with as open a mind as possible. There are dark sides to local food. There are light sides to GMOs. There are good reasons why super markets don’t stock local food. There are hurdles to building local food systems beyond Farmers Markets and no one knows the best way forward. Sometimes the USDA is an awesome ally. Sometimes it seems in the pocket of big Ag.

Local food isn’t a fad. It’s a frame. It’s a way of looking at what we eat that includes many values, from justice to belonging to sovereignty to trust to health to kids to the future to savoring. Through doing the 10-Day Local Food Challenge we can each go from a value held but not yet lived, to discovering through living local more about ourselves and our world.