Welcome to the future of food...
One doesn’t have to know much about the food chain to know that the way we currently feed our population is not sustainable. The introduction of capitalism into the food chain has created a monster, replete with grocery stores filled with edibles made from fillers and chemicals, enormous conglomerate farms genetically altering plants and animals for sheer size and travel durability, and a food economy focused on cheapness and lowest common denominator ingredients non-reflective of the true costs placed on the environment and the health of the consumer. We’ve all watched in horror as childhood obesity, autism, diabetes, and allergies have increased exponentially over the years.
To be fair, these systems at one time were absolutely necessary. After WW2, a population explosion changed American culture forever. Agrarian towns became manufacturing towns. American soldiers returning from Europe didn’t want to return to Depression Era farms, instead selecting for steel mills, aircraft/automobile manufacturing and construction. Fast food restaurants replaced diners as the “lunch hour” became part of the American vernacular. The small, diverse farms of the late 19th century gave way to 20th century super farms focused on single crops like corn and wheat and subsidized by the government to maintain that focus.
So that has led us to the problems of the day. Our food is lacking in nutrition and indeed can be detrimental to our health. It’s grown incredibly inefficiently and shipped egregious distances to population centers all over the country, often under-ripe. Its cost structure remains unsustainably low, effectively barring the entry of small-scale diverse farms and perpetuating cheap food of questionable nutrition. This cheap food props up the high cost of medical insurance as heart disease, morbid obesity, diabetes, stroke, allergies, and cancer run rampant through the population.
In recent decades, pressure has come on the food industry to clean up their act and terms like all-natural, organic, pastured, cage-free, grass-fed have been introduced into the system. A massive outpouring of support from the masses have brought these foods into the mainstream and there are now organic sections in every Wal-Mart and Costco in the nation. Although it’s indicative of the consumer’s desire to eat healthier, and a willingness to pay a little extra for it, it completely misses the mark and oftentimes does more harm than good. Lack of uniformity in labeling, an industry unwilling to educate, and unscrupulous companies with misleading labels have proven that “Big Food” is simply and sadly so chained to profits and shareholders they cannot and will not be able to lead the way out.
We have to take matters into our own hands.
The perfect food system is this: A nested system of concentric circles of distribution where there is an equal focus on partnership and cooperation as well as capital gains. Yes people need to make a living, but if any one member of the supply chain is gathering wealth unequally at the expense of other members of the system, then we have a problem. In a nested system, community members are fed by community based farms. Yes, local farms. In this system, local farmers provide for their own population centers. It’s less damaging to the environment due a much smaller carbon footprint. It allows food to be picked riper and therefore more nutritionally intact due to the fact that it has smaller distances to travel. The mix of foods can become less homogeneous as pressure for selection of durable products designed for long distance travel is no longer needed. Ever notice how every produce section in every grocery store in America is nearly identical? Did you know that carrots come in over 11 different colors? That there are nearly 4000 different heirloom varietals of tomatoes? Don’t feel bad if you don’t. In a nested system, thousands of different heirloom varietals (each delivering a different nutritional package) suddenly become valuable again. The variety in your diet increases exponentially, and it doesn’t take intuition too finely honed to know that variety in your diet is an essential key to good health.
Your local farmers will be growing lots of different things, not just one thing. Growing in this fashion increases the variety in your diet, and decreases the economies of scale. A farm producing 30 different vegetables as well as raising pigs and chickens is a completely different entity than a farmer subsidized by the government to grow 15,000 acres of corn. Therefore, you can expect to pay a little more for clean, local food. Small farmers these days have been pushed aside for now and federal subsidies as well as state and local laws favor larger, more industrial farms. We hope our efforts will one day reverse that trend, but for now that’s the way it is.
An entire system of infrastructure, cooperative logistics, and community partnerships has sprung up to create this nested system. One of those quintessential partnerships is with Wholesome Waves. We will donate 2.5% of our revenues to Wholesome Waves who will in turn match those dollars and use them to double SNAP benefits for lower income people to shop at local farmers markets. We all stand to benefit from a community that’s well fed from nutritious food and our local farmers reap the benefits.
In conclusion, we are proud to prototype what we think is a well thought out beginning to a sustainable food supply chain in our community. The benefits of this system get magnified over time as the program grows, so we look forward to managing that growth as it comes. Participation on the part of the consumer is the key to that growth, so we’ve designed this system to be interactive from seed to plate. Tell us how to make your experience easier. What products do you want to see? What are we missing? During the initial phases of this program, customer input is golden as we look to streamline the process and give you access to the best food money can buy.
Thank you and feel free to contact us any time!
Laurel Hoover - firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Norman - email@example.com