August 11-15 2014
Jessica Prentice created the term Locavore in 2005. According to her, the term refers to, “A person who bases their diet on foods that are grown or produced in the geographic region where they live, are in touch with the seasonality of their food systems, and seek to cultivate relationships with local producers and processors. Locavores also have some kind of hands on interaction with their food (cooking, gardens, baking, fermenting) either domestically or professionally.”
Jessica is part of a movement of people across the United States who are committed to relocalizing their food system. She values the relationships she shares with her food producers, knowing that face certification is as important as other forms of labeling when making decisions about where to buy her food.
“Locus” (latin root for “local”) + “Vorare” (latin root for “to devour”)
1. Santa Bariani (Bariani Olive Oil)
2. Ted Fuller (Highland Hills Ranch)
3. John Lagier (Lagier Ranch)
4. Edwardo Morrell (Morrell Bakery)
5. Annabelle Lenderink (La Tercera)
6. The Locavore, Jessica Prentice (Three Stone Hearth)
In this short film from the Nourish Initiative, Michael Pollan explains why it’s important to eat local. For the past twenty-five years, Michael Pollan has been writing books and articles about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment. He is the author of Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (2013) and of four New York Times bestsellers: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (2010); In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008); The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006) and The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (2001).
Pollan was named to the 2010 TIME 100, the magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people. In 2009 he was named by Newsweek as one of the top 10 “New Thought Leaders.”
This film features Shimizu San, a farmer living in a small town outside of Tokyo where he has been making udon noodles for the last 45 years, and growing the wheat for it too. His commitment to creating local, culturally-specific food offers a solution to encroaching industries.
Food systems comprise all aspects of food production (the way the food is grown or raised; the way the food is harvested or slaughtered; and the way the food is processed, packaged, or otherwise prepared for consumer purchase) and food distribution (where and how the food is sold to consumers and how the food is transported). Food systems can be divided into two major types: the global industrial food system, of which there is only one, and sustainable/local (or regional) food systems, of which there are many.
Food miles, relationships, regional boundaries —these are some of the things that define the conversation about what a “local” food system is. Rich Pirog considershow appropriateness to the region and culture is crucial when deciding the boundaries of buildinglocal food systems and economies.
Douglas Gayeton: People seem to understand the principle of “local”. How would you explain what a “regional food system” is?
Rich Pirog: A lot of the confusion around local and regional is caused by the notion that it has to be a certain distance, or it has to be based on some kind of geographic boundary like a state, a county or a city. There isn’t a set definition for “regional food systems”, just like there isn’t a set definition for “local”. The definition for local, in the last farm bill, had a mileage figure: anything that was within 400 miles. But that doesn’t mean there is a fixed definition that everybody has adopted. Using the term “regional” instead of “local” when describing food systems comes into play when people are starting to look at areas that have some kind of distinctive, ecological, environmental, or cultural characteristics.
Douglas Gayeton: What are the necessary ingredients needed for a healthy and vital local or regional food system?
Rich Pirog: Economics, environment and community are the three legs of the stool of sustainable agriculture. When one of those is missing, the stool is unstable. When you don’t have all of those capitals working within a region, it erodes the other capitals and you tend to not have the collective wealth needed for a society to thrive.
Metaphorically speaking, you wouldn’t want to plant local food businesses in an infertile seedbed. You’d want to have a very rich seedbed that had high soil quality, access to nutrients and water, and was tended to well. It is difficult if we don’t have the environment or the cultural, financial, political or other capitals to support policies that would allow producers, consumers and processors to support local and regional food.
Douglas Gayeton: I was talking to Michael Sligh from RAFI about local food systems and scale and he said, “It’s not about being small. It’s about being appropriate.” Do you agree with the idea of appropriateness?
Rich Pirog: Appropriateness really resounds with me. When I visited researchers in France studying local food, they were fascinated that we would even consider distance to be part of the equation because they said it really was about relationships. These researchers were studying what they would call “short supply chains” and it was really about the number of intermediaries in the chain and how well the story of the farmer was understood by the buyer. Local was referenced as relationship, not as a distance.
Rich Pirog of the Center for Regional Food Systems. He joined the newly created Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University as senior associate director in May 2011. His current work includes developing a statewide food hub learning and innovation network and providing oversight to new Center work groups that include Center and MSU faculty and staff. Pirog’s research and collaborations on local foods, food networks and communities of practice, food value chains, and ecolabels has been publicized in magazines and media outlets across the globe, used by local food practitioners, and are often cited in books and college courses. He currently is consulting and writing publications with the Ford Foundation, Wallace Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and the Kellogg Foundation.
Are you tempted to throw a sustainable dinner party but unsure where to begin? It’s all about good food, good friends, and good ideas — and we’ve got everything you need to know in order to get started. Have fun, and bon appétit!
A former French colony and home to a distinctive creole culture, New Orleans has been cooking up some of the nation’s best traditional and contemporary French food for centuries. Now, several French chefs in New Orleans are using local and sustainably grown vegetables, fruit, and meat in their dishes to both enhance flavor and promote sustainability in the restaurant industry.
Image Credit: Douglas Gayeton for the Lexicon of Sustainability
Found on Page 16 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America
Farmville 2 is an online game that rewards players for growing a variety of crops and producing goods for their community. The game features over fifty types of fruits and vegetables, plus another fifty types of trees, with new varieties added each week. The game also includes many exotic livestock ranging from Chianina cows to Polish Silver Laced chickens. Players earn points, both alone and with other players, by harvesting crops and creating value-added products like Elderberry Tea and Apple Sauce.
Farmville helps kids learn about eating in season, local food hubs, and biodiversity.
Title: Local First, Certification Second
Location: Jones Valley Urban Farm Birmingham, AL
Featuring: Edwin Marty, Founder & Farmer, Jones Valley Urban Farm, Frank Stitt, Founder and Chef, Highlands Bar & Grill
Image Credit: Douglas Gayeton for the Lexicon of Sustainability
Found on Page 99 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America
Why does Alabama have fewer certified organic farms than any other place in the country? Three reasons: first, it’s hard to grow food in Alabama without synthetic chemicals because of the high humidity; second, insect predation; third, poor soils. Of course, there are less obvious reasons as well. For one, Black farmers were intentionally excluded from USDA funding for decades, so why would they now ‘trust’ the USDA to make their work more valuable? Also, the good ole’ boy network of farming in Alabama continues to view organics as a “hippy” thing. Finally, County Extension agents only offer research-based advice and the Land-Grant universities have not been incentivized to do such research.
Edwin came to town with the vision of reconnecting this urban community with sustainably grown food so he reclaimed a small plot of land and started growing herbs, lettuces and vegetables for his community. According to Edwin, “The farm uses food as a tool for social transformation. It reconnects the community to their food and improves health outcomes in an urban environment.”
Frank Stitt, Founder and Chef at Highlands Bar & Grill, comments, “People like me want organically raised food—its better for the land and our environment–but it’s more important to work with and support local farmers. They put us in step with the seasons and create a valuable bond between farmer, chef and community.”
Real Food Right Now and How to Cook it (#realfoodrightnow) is Grace’s weekly series on the ABCs and 123s of seasonal food.
Face certification is one way to assure you know where your food is from and how it was grown. Jay Martin uses face certification instead of labeling to promote the importance of eating local and knowing your farmer. This is the essence of local first, certification second.
Douglas Gayeton: When I traveled through the South a year ago, making images for the Lexicon Project, I repeatedly came across farms that were not organic. They actually have a phrase that they use, which was “local first, certification second.” Have you heard that before?
Jay Martin: I have not heard that before but I know a lot of people share that sentiment. Our farmer’s market customers seem to be more concerned that you’re local than you are organic. You can impact a farmer’s growing practices if you raise questions. Once consumers get to know their farmers, they want to know more about their growing practices. I think farmers are responding to that. Consumers can affect the change in the grower.
Douglas Gayeton: Can you give me the definition of “face certification”?
Jay Martin: That direct contact between the farmer and the consumer creates an environment for trust and faith. It’s a good relationship to have with your customers, and customers to have with their providers.
Douglas Gayeton: It seems to put a lot of responsibility on the consumers though. They have to know the right questions to ask.
Jay Martin: They do, and the information is available. I don’t ever try to hide anything from people. I let them know exactly what I do if whatever they ask me. I don’t think they need a piece of paper or any kind of certificate to tell them how to judge what their produce is. All they really need to do is just look me in the eye.
Douglas Gayeton: Are you familiar with the Japanese concept called “Teikei”?
Jay Martin: Yeah I am. Teikei farms were formed in Japan as the Japanese population urbanized after the Second World War. As I understand, the translation of teikei means “food with the farmer’s face on it”. That’s where I came up with the idea of face certification.
What if you could buy fresh fruit and vegetables each week, grown by a local farmer? Better yet, what if you had a personal relationship your farmer? You may have heard of CSAs, but do you know how they really work? Watch this video and find out.
Two farmers, Edwin Marty of Alabama’s Jones Valley Urban Farm and Jay Martin of Provident Organic Farms in Bivalve, Maryland weigh in on local vs. organic and why a piece of paper may not insure you’re getting the best food available.
Excerpt from Lexicon’s Film Discussion Guide “Local Versus Organic”:
What’s more important, that your food is local … or organic? Edwin Marty of Alabama’s Jones Valley Urban Farm and Jay Martin of Provident Organic Farms in Bivalve, Maryland explain that “organic certification or a piece of paper will never insure that you’re getting good food. You have to know your farmer,” which is why they believe in the motto, “Local First, Certification Second”.
“The beauty of a local food system is that it brings you back into a relationship with the source of your food, with the land, the animals, the plants, the farmers, and with each other,” writes Jessica Prentice, acclaimed chef, author, community food activist and the person who first coined the word “locavore.” She captures perfectly the importance of locavore movement. Our relationship with food is a complex one, based on memories, habits, needs and desires.
Although my mom prepared dinner every day, I do remember consuming fast food on occasion. It wasn’t until I was living on my own that I realized how empty and unsatisfying that food was on many levels. By slowly changing my patterns of behavior, I began a deeper appreciation for food and life in general. I visited farmers markets, befriended farmers, and cooked local food with my friends. Doing this made me more aware of terroir, of the seasonality of things; I became more connected to my environment instead of just drifting through it. I planted an herb garden, which grew into a produce garden, which grew into a farm. Now I grow things that you don’t see in stores while also enjoying truly priceless foods from local producers. It is this connectedness that is at the heart of the Locavore movement.Tucker Taylor is an expert in certified organic farming, specialty produce, and sustainability. Taylor strongly believes in soil cultivation—with a healthy dose of compost—as the key to a good harvest. He is now the first Director of Culinary Gardens for Jackson Family Wines, where he spearheads the cultivation of all the company’s gardens globally. Prior to joining the Kendall Jackson family, Tucker oversaw landscaping at every property of the world-renowned chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants (French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon, Ad Hoc), setting the standard for today’s farm-to-table fine dining. Follow him on Instagram @farmert.
Chef Ann Cooper is the Renegade Lunch Lady. She is an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children. She is also the founder of Food Family Farming Foundation.
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