Edible lessons

Quick thoughts from the Edible Institute, which was held this week in Santa Barbara. First, I can’t believe I don’t live here. It’s sunny, warm and right on the ocean. And, at the end of January, they are harvesting spring garlic.

Seriously, though, this weekend’s conference served up plenty of inspiring stories (rooftop gardens, urban farms) and thoughtful discussions (how can we better cover industrial agriculture so readers really understand the food system?). But what was most inspiring was the clear recognition that reformers must draw new people into the conversation about developing a healthier food system. Deb Eschmeyer, co-founder of Food Corps, urged Edible magazine publishers to get their magazines into local legislative offices — Democrat and Republican. Ralph Loglisci, of the Monday Campaigns, talked about behavior change theory, which suggests that only immediate self-interest — not calls to save the planet — will  lure new supporters to the cause. Joan Dye Gussow, an advocate of local food for more than 30 years and the conference’s keynote speaker, stated it most simply: “We need to find ways to make agriculturally ignorant Americans give a damn.”

This is what we are trying to discover in our work in Huntington. What do Americans outside the wealthy enclaves of Brooklyn, Berkeley and, of course, Santa Barbara where spring begins in January, care about? What will motivate them to make change? There is no one answer, and what resonates will vary from place to place. Discovering the answer is essential as the food “movement” takes its next steps.

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  1. Posted February 1, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

    Hi Jane!

    In response to the suggestion by Ralph that individual self interest is the key, I can vouch for that. I became involved in the Weston A. Price Foundation as a means to a very personal end. Finding higher quality nutrition to solve some health issues in our family. I am now a local foods activist and publicist for the WAPF. But it all started with my personal situation.

  2. Rosalyn Price Englis
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 1:11 PM | Permalink

    Interestingly enough, I believe that more and more people are beginning to wonder how they can actually develop a food system in their local area that eliminates the middle man (grocery stores).

    Our plan is to conduct a Nutrient-Dense Living seminar, a 12 week program designed to introduce the typical American to the process of eating seasonal, local, chemical-free and economical. Our seminar will cover everything from WHERE to buy: including food tours of local farms and dairies ; WHAT to do with it: recipes, menus, types of eating (traditional, macrobiotic etc); and HOW to afford it: offering various options for varying financial situations.

    The importance of this type of program is that it provide A. local resources, B. various sources for recipes and C. inspiration in the form of a group project.

    We’re very excited about this project!

  3. Posted February 1, 2011 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    Wonder what would motivate the ginormous people around me who are slack-jawed from the food they eat and the TV they watch… what do those people want? Maybe I aim too high. All suggestions welcome!

  4. Posted March 2, 2011 at 7:28 PM | Permalink

    Try having a “google” – Tastes of Lincolnshire. The county is due north of London and south of the river Humber. It is the largest supplier of vegetables in England and by our standards,very rural. Another website worth looking at is “Youngs Grimsby”. They are a large fish processing company who are at the forefront of fish sustainability. From what I have read,it appears as though Americans eat far too much meat and not enough fish. Try them,you may find it interesting.

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  • By Tweets that mention Edible lessons -- Topsy.com on January 31, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Zachary Adam Cohen, farmanddairy, jane_black, Megan Miller, Trent Bown and others. Trent Bown said: RT @farmanddairy: QOTD: “We need to find ways to make agriculturally ignorant Americans give a damn.” http://bit.ly/i4GrHi h/t @Zachary … […]

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  • About Me

    Jane BlackI am a Washington, D.C.-based food writer who covers food politics, trends and sustainability issues. My work appears in the Washington Post, (where I was a staff writer), the New York Times, Saveur, New York magazine and other publications. On this site, you will find my blog and links to my written work and my Washington Post columns.