Madison Magazine June-July 2019 - Page 14

Food & Drink Recipe Educated Eating You and the local food system A s a child, I looked forward to summer all year long. Sum- mer meant endless time outside with my friends, barbecues with my family and hours, upon hours, in the pool. As an adult, when summer ap- proaches, my mind shifts right to farmers market season. Market season is more to me than just getting out and buying local. It’s not a trendy Saturday morning routine, it’s not reusable bags and fancy booth set ups (though those are all things I enjoy). Farmers markets, for me, are about con- nection, they’re about heritage, and they are about investing in my community. I often wonder what my consumerism would be like if I didn’t grow up around family gardening. Would I be so inter- ested in knowing where food comes from? Or who grows it? Who knows where I would be without the foundation of my raising. 14 Maggie K. Smith / Homegrown Recipes My relationship with food would probably be different to some extent, mainly because it would have taken me lon- ger to discover the difference between a store bought tomato and a local, homegrown one. I am thankful that was exposed to me early, but I recognize not everyone has that privilege. Our food and farm system has continuously perpetuated systemic oppression, and in most cases, those of us who have not experienced the hard side of it have not acknowl- edged the privilege of food. We consider money as the great power in our country and food as a necessity, but for some, a meal is as hard to come by (or harder) than a dollar. In 2017, according to Feed- ing America, 40 million Ameri- cans, including 12 million children were food insecure. That’s about 1 in 8 people. In Kentucky, approximately 17%, or 685,830 people, were food insecure in 2017. The U.S. Madison Magazine J U N E - J U LY 2 0 1 9 Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. It is important to know that hunger and food insecurity are closely related, but distinct, concepts. Hunger refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort, while food insecu- rity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the level of the household. Sharing where our nation and state stand with food insecurity rates is not to make you feel bad about having the power to choose what you eat, it’s about recognizing that some folks don’t. For years, I have taken advantage of going to the store and buying whatever food I wanted for the week. After a Local Food Leaders Training at Iowa State University, and through more deliberate con- versations about equity in the food and farm system with my organization, Community Farm Alliance, I’ve had the topic more on my mind lately. I’ve made a more valiant effort to put my money where my home is. I’m not the perfect example of a locavore, and I don’t eat my zip code every meal, but the effort is there, when there are products available. When I purchase local, it not only makes me feel good health and mind wise, but it also stimulates the local economy. The New Economics Founda- tion compared what happens when people buy produce at a supermarket vs. a local farm- er’s market or community sup- ported agriculture (CSA) pro- gram and found that twice the money stayed in the commu- nity when folks bought locally. “That means those purchases are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive,” says author and NEF researcher David Boyle. (See Time Magazine, Buying Local: Boosts the Economy). I feel safe to assume we all care about the communities