How Local Food Can Push the Line Back

Re-branding this site to local food from technology, social media, various other technical conversations can definitely be a tough nut to crack. Like many of the current readers of this blog, we all tend to follow similar “A list” types of online personalities. You know Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, Brian Clark of CopyBlogger.com, Sonia Simone, Seth Godin.

I never cared to be one that simply posted echo chamber fodder after the big boys and girls published. After reading Seth’s post today, “Moving the line (the power of a zealot)” I was struck by just how it related to the prospect of local foods. Specifically how the industrialized food corporations in this country have moved that line closer and closer towards themselves.

Food today is not what it was even 25 years ago. Fewer companies control greater percentages of the food production in this country. Traditional farmers are barely recognizable. And fewer of them have the ability to support their farms, families and produce more than a few crops for the corporations. Local food banks see more of their stock filled with the non-perishable products able to sit on shelves for months and months.

My belief is the emerging local food movement, or being a locavore, is beginning, albeit, slowly, to move the line back towards the center. Away from the titans of the food industry. They, we, have a tough row to hoe, however. Why? Well quotes like this from Seth Godin help to exemplify the hurdles to overcome:

It’s not the principle, in fact, it’s just the degree of compromise we’re comfortable with and content to argue over.

The way I’m interpreting this as it relates to local food has to do with the skillful way industrialized food producers have made the argument about compromise. The world has to eat, so they have to produce massive amounts of product. Over the years, as we’ve become comfortable with more highly processed foodstuffs invading our pantry fewer of us are seeking out that which is grown or produced in our local areas.

There are quite a number of reasons for supporting local, smaller farmers and meat producers. My personal goal is to explore more of those issues in the upcoming weeks. For now, though, I make this point: if the locavore’s don’t begin to fanatically push the line back towards center, how comfortable can we eventually be just arguing over the compromises of processed foods?

The food industry would have us believe that the small town farmer is not able to feed us. My guess is that’s not completely accurate. In my next post on this topic, I’ll share some research from the various books and sites I’ve been reading the past 6 months.

My gut tells me that we can eat off the hard work done locally. It won’t always be the smorgasbord available year round at the grocery store. And it won’t be as cheap. But the food will be fresher. It will be better for the planet. Buying locally produced foods will help support the families who bring it to us. And eventually it might just redraw that line away from greedy corporate food interests.

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