1.20.2015

The Food Issues Book Club: Food and the City, Chapter 5

Hello all!  Welcome to the NOiG Food Issues Book Club, wherein I read books about food stuff, summarize each book by chapter, and then attempt to apply that book chapter's ideas to the New Orleans food environment and my own experiences.  Fun right?!  Check out previous installations here.  I'd love it if you'd read along and join in!  And now, without further ado...

Food and the City, Chapter 5: The New Food Movement and the Rise of Urban Agriculture

Summary:

In the 1990s, Tim Lang of the SAFE alliance tried to educate policymakers regarding the impacts that proposed trade agreements might hvae on food environments the world over.  In 1992, a television appearance allowed Lang to illustrate the concept of food miles to British viewers.  The concept caught on, and in 1994 SAFE released a report entitled The Food Miles Report.  It was followed in 2001 by a collaborative report called Eating Oil.  Concurrently in Italy, Carlo Petrini had begun organzing what would become the international Slow Food movement.

In the 2000s, consumers began to demand more local and regional foods.  Farmer's markets, which had experienced a resurgence in the 90s, continued to multiply.  Authors such as Michael Pollan brought industrial food's issues to a broader and more mainstream audience.  In 2007, "locavore" was named the Oxford American Dictionary's "word of the year."

Currently, as an ever-greater proportion of the population moves away from rural settings and into the city, we are beginning to understand that food access bust be considered as a part of urban planning.  Localized agriculture now accounts for less than 1% of available food.  A transition, if it is occurring, is still in its infancy.  But as resources are depleted, the movement will have no avenue but to progress.


Discussion:

In chapter 5 we get to what Cockrall-King really wants to be talking about: urban gardening.  It's a brief chapter that addresses the resurgence of urban gardening in the mainstream, white, western world.  That is of course the world she lives in (as do I), so there's a certain amount of logic in it.  I look forward to the chapters on Cuba and Detroit, as I'm hoping they'll provide a different perspective.

The recent history presented in this chapter is interesting.  The papers and presentation noted are dated but still relevant.
I was hoping to find the video, but no luck.

If you're a New Orleans area resident and you have the interest, ability, and space to begin doing a bit of home vegetable growing but aren't sure where to start, one great option is Green Light New Orleans.  In addition to switching your regular ol' lightbulbs for CFLs, this local non-profit will come to your house and build a small vegetable garden plot for free, complete with soil, seedlings, and seeds.  If you're really interested in increasing Nola residents' ability to grow their own food, you can also volunteer to help build plots.  If you live in an apartment or otherwise have nowhere to put a plot, you can look into community gardening at places like Nola Green Roots and Parkway Partners.

If you do not in fact have the interest, ability, or space to garden where you live or anywhere else, check out this awesome graphic on what foods are best each season in New Orleans from the Crescent City Farmer's Market team.  If you can't grow it at home, often you *can* buy it locally grown!

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