Is Fresno embracing the local food movement? And how will that movement impact the lower-income, rural and urban communities in the San Joaquin Valley? Those are questions I’ve wondered ever since I attended the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program’s screening of the documentary, “Food, Inc.” on Friday night. (Read more about the movie and that event in this week’s edition of Vida.)
The documentary powerfully depicts how our country’s industrial food system is broken. The movie ends with advise as to how consumers can help change the food system. Those recommendations are available here, but some of them include: visiting local farmers markets, not drinking soda, eating at home instead of in restaurants, and not consuming meat at least one day a week.
The film definitely left an impact on the 200 people who attended Friday night’s screening. After the movie, during a question-and-answer session, people expressed interest in supporting farmers at the Vineyard Farmers Market, growing their own vegetable gardens, joining T&D Willey’s Community Supported Agriculture program, and even raising chickens in their backyard. A group of panelists also encouraged people to show their support for local, healthy food by “voting with their dollars.”
I love all those ideas (except raising chickens, I guess.) I love farmers markets, and am anxiously awaiting my first CSA box, which will be delivered tomorrow! But I keep thinking about the “voting with dollars” part, and here’s why:
Here in the Valley, where this year, unemployed farmworkers have waited in long lines at food distributions, and where organizations like the Fresno-based Community Food Bank are absolutely stretched thin – how can you ask people to vote with their dollars? How can you ask people to make conscious choices about their food when, if they have money to buy food, they have to drive 30 minutes to get to the nearest supermarket? And do the decisions that I make have any impact on these communities?
For me, at least, making conscious choices will mean supporting local agriculture here in the Fresno area, and supporting organizations like the Community Food Bank. It will mean, as a journalist, spotlighting organizations that are making a difference for those rural communities who suffer from food injustices. And maybe awareness is also being appreciative for the ability to buy local food?
What are your thoughts on this issue? Have you changed your eating habits to support local, healthy food efforts? What organizations are doing great things – either within the local food movement, or by making food more accessible to lower income communities?