I’ve been to a couple of organic farming conferences over the past few weeks. I’ve spoken with countless farmers, chefs, artisans, community organizers and leaders in urban agriculture. I’ve listened to and talked to women pioneers who are emphasizing cultural tradition and honoring the women who have passed down their food heritage.
In each encounter and each talk, I am reminded of why it is important what we are doing, with each of our farms or agricultural projects and with our support for restorative farms.
A couple of weeks ago, the highlight of the conference was a talk about an urban food forest near me. In this talk, the speaker focused on how he is transforming neighborhoods and communities by growing food.
Over this past weekend, I was reinvigorated in my mission when a woman close to my age spoke about food and social justice—that we cannot have social justice until we see the value of women’s contributions to our food systems. She spoke about the importance of recognizing and honoring cultural traditions so that we can use food to evolve our communities.
These are ideas that I hold dearly and the reasons I have dedicated my life to transforming our food systems through policy, grassroots activism, and collaboration with organizations.
I know that our food system defines our other systems. I know that when people have access to good, clean food and an understanding of how it is produced, we value the eco-systems that produce that food. I know that when we take part in our food production and encourage our children to as well, we acknowledge and respect food in the kitchen and on our tables leading to a cycle of wellness in body, mind and spirit.
I know that when we understand the value of an animal’s life over the value of a cheap meal, we honor those animals’ contributions and the workers who bring our food to us.
We do this by supporting farms where there is no animal suffering, and by offering fair wages and promoting an acceptable quality of life for those who are producing our food and bringing it to us. I know that when we know our food sources–or participate in the production–and the nutrients those foods impart, we honor our bodies and lives with these nutrient dense, healing foods.
Ultimately, it is this system of awareness of our food, and honoring our producers that highlights a new value system. It is a value system that honors the whole person, the whole ecology, and the whole economy, providing a higher quality of life to all involved.
Your participation in this system, whether as a farmer, marketer, artisan, teacher or consumer, means a lot. It matters. It might seem routine to you, or perhaps not, but your participation is actually a vote for more sustainable farms and fewer Wal-Marts and McDonald’s. By participating, you are endorsing fair wages for our farmers and those who make the direct connections in the city possible. You are endorsing a vibrant healthy eco system and economy.
In deep reflection of what has been affirmed again to me over the past couple weeks, and with immense gratitude for those who make a point to create a new food system, thank you for giving our farming communities the recognition they deserve.
By your participation, you make this all happen. Thank you.
Wherever you are in your personal journey toward clean living and local food, thank you for joining me in mine. I look forward to sharing it with you.