A Food Revolution?
I’ve always been a doubting Thomas. I need to see it to believe it. And even then, I don’t believe it.
That’s pretty much sums up how I feel about what many are calling a U.S. “food revolution.” Though I’ve met city gardeners, listened to urban chicken growers and beekeepers, and spoken to many young college-educated men and women with big dreams of having their own farms, I don’t buy the notion of a “food revolution,” at least not yet. I see the nation’s growing fascination with food as just that – an appreciation or an awakening to what good, wholesome food is all about. It’s a movement perhaps, maybe even a mini agricultural revival. But not a revolution.
Cheryl Rogowski, a second-generation farmer at W. Rogowski Farm, went so far as calling farming mainstream in a keynote speech (see “Farmers Rock” post below) at a local food conference earlier this month. I balked. Farming mainstream? Even with 250 food and farm advocates in the room and more than 20 local farmers at the conference, I wasn’t convinced that farming was “mainstream” or that it was in the throes of a revolution.
Let’s face it. The majority of New Yorkers and people I know shop in supermarkets, not farmers markets, and are hopelessly hooked on processed food. Most have never heard of community supported agriculture and would be hard pressed to tell a parsnip from a turnip.
Yet, there it was on the front page of the New York Times – a story about the “food revolution” and the push to create local food systems and entice Americans – children especially – to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. The Nation too ran an article a few weeks earlier about “the revolution” in food and farming. “This revolt,” writes Solnit, “is taking place in the vast open space of Detroit, in the inner-city farms of West Oakland, in the victory gardens and public housing of Alemany Farm in San Francisco, in Growing Power in Milwaukee and many other places around the country.” She describes the revolution as taking place in “little bits everywhere.”
Maybe it is, but I need to see those bits coalesce into a discernible whole. Until then, I’ll remain a doubting Thomas.