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.