Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 45

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE would love to hear your thoughts, maybe even outside of your organization, on a personal level, about what gaps you think still exist in our food system. Where are the problems outside of some of the things we’ve already addressed? And what would you long to see come in to fill those gaps? How would you long to see those things provided for? And this can just be a conversation. Feel free to interact with each other. If someone has a problem and another person has a solution, let’s chat about it. Let’s make this a conversation. Adam Kohl: I’ll start by saying that the biggest gap is in distributed production. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort and money as a nation building the most secure and affordable food system in the world, and we’ve done that through the industrialization and consolidation of food production. So we’re funneling all these resources into making sure that food is super, super cheap, and then we also subsidize people being able to purchase that. But when we’re subsidizing people with food stamps, most of that money ends up with the farmers who are already receiving subsidies from the USDA to produce their produce. So the hole that I see—and I know this is already being addressed through some of the programs at the USDA and also through the farmers’ market initiative—will be fixed by getting more and more of that production down to the level of the people who would otherwise be going to the grocery store. That’s gardening; that’s small scale urban farms; that’s farms operated by people maybe around the edge or in a temporary space around a city. That food is then getting sold, and all the money from that food sale is getting right back into the community where it’s being used rather than being exported to the Midwest or to corporate farms. And so I think there is a gap between infrastructure and advocacy work, and awareness in training that the people that eat the food, the people that need the food stamps, can actually be a part of growing food and selling it to other people and that money will stay in that community and build economic wealth and jobs. Annie said that hunger is an economic problem and an income problem, and getting that income distributed into the neighborhoods and into the places where people are living is one piece that I think still needs a lot of work. Annie Kirschner: One thing that I think is really lacking in the Portland area is ways to distribute produce grown on small farms. Two, we have a healthy corner store initiative. Corner stores are often seen as problem spots in the community these days. They sell tobacco, liquor. However, many of them are in fact open to carrying more healthy foods and fresh produce; they lack the buying power and the distribution systems to get a better price that they can afford for their neighborhood. So, we’ve actually pulled together a number of independent local corner store owners, and I’m not talking about Plaid Pantry 42