LocalHarvest Newsletter, December 27, 2019|
The landscape of agriculture and food is changing rapidly these days. In my daily news feed are articles about robots, cell-cultured foods, drone delivery, driverless trucking, climate instability, and more somber topics. Change is happening at a dizzying pace, so much so that sometimes I feel like going full ostrich and putting my head into a hole in the ground to block out the noise. But then I take an expanded view, recognizing the long arc of planetary and human history, and take some deep breaths. I don't have to sanction all the changes, nor invest my dollars into them. I can keep directing my mental energy and my food dollars towards farmers and efforts that are congruent with my values and are building the kind of world I want to leave for my children and grandchildren. I want to fight for what I believe in, rather than against what I don't. Long-term efforts like LocalHarvest are what I believe in. Do you know that we are just finishing our 20th year helping consumers and farmers connect over good food?
The last two years have been a 180 degree transformation for me. I used to largely focus on the negative and play the victim. External events would darken my moods. I often felt wanting for more, I never was satisfied. Through a lot of self-improvement activities and habits, I see life completely different now. I find that taking stock of what I am grateful for makes me both hopeful and motivated for more positive change. I find that what you appreciate, appreciates. I am aware there are many indicators that our food and farming systems are flawed, maybe even broken. But there are always hopeful signs.
My local farmers markets operated by Gorge Grown Food Network pumped over $600,000 into the local economy and supported 82 family farmers, food producers, and small business owners in 2019. For a largely rural area (the Columbia River Gorge), those numbers are incredible. The multiplier effect probably exceeds over a $1 million dollars. Our local Native American tribes are organizing to call for the removal of a couple key dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers that are decimating native salmon stocks. They are organizing for change. A new pig producer and charcuterie maker in the Hood River Valley just obtained their USDA certification so they can now scale up and start wholesaling their yummy porky treats to a larger audience. The need at our local food bank has increased, but our local farmers and gleaners have also stepped up to add tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce to the Food Bank shelves and help folks in the region eat more produce. My state of Oregon just passed a bill to increase the amount of money for farm to school efforts and help cafeterias serve more local and regionally-grown foods. Individually, these data points are fantastic, collectively they are remarkable. They illustrate the power of ideas and collective action. We can achieve more together than we can alone.
What are some data points, both qualitative and quantitative, that give you signs of hope? What are you doing in your personal and collective worlds to build a more helpful food system? Here are some ideas I have for you, going from small steps to large:
As Andrew Carnegie said- "Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."
Let's drive uncommon results together. Start small, collaborate with others, and let's create the food system we all want and deserve. You all give me hope.
With gratitude, -Rebecca Thistlethwaite
Recipe: Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic Vinegar.