Sunday, April 13, 2008

Albany Times-Union: local eating movement isn't elitist

Jennifer Wilkins, Sr Extension Associate at Cornell University, writing last week in the Albany Times-Union, defends the local eating movement against charges of elitism. Not only is the local foods movement not elitist, she says, but the opposite is true.

It's about transforming and democratizing the food system. It's about increasing access to high-quality, nutrient-rich food and making it available and affordable to all people.

It's about establishing whole food markets in poor inner-city neighborhoods plagued by "food deserts."

It's about keeping more farmers on the land by paying them the real cost of production and about consumers having a stake in the stewardship of productive land. It's about sustainability.

When farmers sell their crops directly to consumers, schools and restaurants, none of the cost is siphoned off by processors, distributors and marketers.

In reality, elitist is a term more aptly applied to the conventional food system that provides most of America's food and concentrates economic power among an increasingly "select class" (a dictionary definition of elite) of corporations. Just four companies, for example -- Tyson, Cargill, Swift, and National Beef Packing -- control more than 80 percent of the beef market.

So stop feeling guilty about the fact not everyone has access to great local food yet. By supporting it yourself, you can help fix that.

4 comments:

ksumoe said...

Thanks for turning me on to the locavore scene. I live in Northern Kentucky and I can't wait for the Boone County Farmers Market to begin. Just one more week!

Also, thanks for being such a great resource!

-Moe

valereee said...

Moe, you're welcome! If you haven't checked out the Cincinnati Local Foods Group, it's a really helpful resource too.

vudutu said...

I totally agree, how the heck did this even become an issue? If anything it is because Hummer driving, clueless McMansion housewives shouldering a boatload of debt picked up the banner to try and justify their existence.

BustedFlush said...

I agree with you completely, but to play Devil's Advocate here - say I'm at work and someone asks me if I want to grab a burger at McDonald's. Suppose for a minute that I say something like "Oh, sorry, no - I don't patronize fast food." A ststement like that can make you seem like a real snob to some people. I don't think it's true - I'm just trying to figure out if that is where the perception comes from.

And, truth be told, it is often more expensive to eat whole foods. At least that is the case for me. I could probably do a bit better with better menu planning, but I'm spending about $40 more week if I compare receipts from before I started eating almost exclusively locally. Some of that is just the excitement of trying new things, buying bulk for all the frozen tomato and apple sauce, and a lot of it is meat - pastured chicken and beef are a lot more than their commercial counterparts.

It's totally worth it to me though, it's just a metter of what your priorities are.