April 27, 2007

Food and Society

I was at the Kellogg Foundation's 2007 Food & Society Conference this week, a retreat for the community of sustainable food systems projects that they support and work with. I wanted to be a participant, not just an observer, so I decided not to blog it. I will say at least this about it, though ...

Over the last few days, I've met people who've been thinking seriously about food systems for longer than I've been alive. Many were smarter than I am, or knew more than I did about topics near to my heart, or may have worked harder than I ever might for as long as I live. And you know, that really makes me hopeful.

The world faces serious issues related to food. There are people going hungry or suffering malnutrition, farmers who can't make a living at honest work, farm and factory workers who are mistreated, endangered or barely paid, unsustainable energy and fossil fuel use in our farming sector, topsoil that's washing or blowing away, a food industry that's convinced people they can live on corn syrup and preservatives alone, and industrial poisons being pushed into our food supply. I've talked about some of these topics before and that doesn't begin to be a comprehensive list.

I can't solve all those problems. I can't fully describe all of them. Even my best efforts to do something about them would fall entirely flat without being supported by a broad community of like-minded people. So there had just better be a lot of other hands at the work, a lot of other studies of the issues, and a lot of other minds thinking hard about how best to proceed.

Which to me, could sum up the core of a belief in the virtue of democratic (small d) organizing principles. It's a willingness to trust that many people working together can get more accomplished than one person, that their decisions and cumulative efforts will be more effective, more intelligent, than that the result of one person deciding from on high and without regard to outside input. To trust that the results may be uneven but will also be stronger, more enduring and adaptable.

And now, to the catching up.

Posted by natasha at April 27, 2007 02:11 PM | Random Mumblings | Technorati links |