On the Brink of Change

      Posted On: January 19, 2009

Andrew Stout is the co-owner and operator of Full Circle Organic Farm in Carnation, WA.

by Andrew Stout, FMC Board Member

Change is in the air: A new President and administration charged with the impossible expectation to be everything for everybody; a new economy that may still not have shown its full depressive depths; a new climate in which we can only guess how the world is reacting to us; a new spectrum of technologies which open many windows yet keep us from using the real ones. It seems fitting that we also look to change who we are by what we eat.

Our relationship to food is a subject under much scrutiny. Moving well past the old paradigm of cheap eats, diet crazes, and production at all costs, the new thought centers around how we affect our health, the environment, and the economy through the simple daily decisions we make about what we eat.

Authors Michael Pollan ‘In Defense of Food’ and Paul Roberts ‘End of Food’ have been the latest to join the voices of Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry, and Alice Waters to extol the virtues of real food produced with care. Radical ideas like cooking, eating locally, choosing flavor and meeting the producer are the suggested steps to a better you, and in turn, a better world. It is comforting to know that these ideas can be implemented without an act of congress or large bailout check. Simply visit your local farmers market and take time to get to know your food. What could be more empowering?

Changing the food system is best accomplished from the ground up. Growers and producers are the leaders in this new age of food. Their stories are the ones to be told and there is no better place for this to occur than at a farmers market. Nowhere else can personal relationships between growers and consumers be cultivated on a regular basis. Additionally, this dialogue is happening without intricate and expensive marketing strategies utilizing television or the Internet. It is being done directly and often, repeated across the country wherever there is a market, producers, and hungry shoppers.

That is the magic of the farmers market. By providing a space for food to exchange hands directly, economies of scale are reversed and the niche producer is exalted. This simple act of buying direct from a farmer can be all that is necessary to bring change to our broken food system. Repeated over and over in the thousands of markets throughout the country, eaters and growers are showing the way. Momentum is shifting and the nation is taking notice.

It may not be long before our country has a Food Bill instead of a Farm Bill, a Department of Food rather than a Department of Agriculture, a healthcare system that focuses on prevention, real food being cooked in our schools and antiquated notions of Old MacDonald replaced by actual farm names and farmer faces in the minds of our youth. While that day is yet to come on a grand scale, a visit to your local farmers market can give you a glimpse of what it will be like. Share this experience with your friends and family and be a part of the solution.

See you at the market!