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Fresh Food

I attended an event tonight about the local food economy. The room was packed - standing room only and I recognized many people from all walks of life (the co-ops, dancing, friends, work, etc). The goal the event was to bring together community and leaders from many different sectors of the the local food economy.

After welcomes and introductions, the evening started out with LaDonna Redmond from IATP. An inspirational speaker, she painted a very important big picture around what exactly food justice is, why it is critical and pointing out that we have never had a fair, equitable, just food system in this country - ever.

That last statement stopped in my head and keeps echoing around in there. Ever! ever... ever... We have never had a fair, equitable, just food system in this country... ever.

Redmond pointed out that when we go back 20 years and you find the beginning of GMOs, go back 60 years and we were getting into pesticides and petro-chemicals after WWII, go back even farther and you start run into slave labor or share cropping which was still exploiting people and land - both of which we continue to do today to get our food to us. As a member of the co-operative food movement for the past 35 year (if I count all the equity my parents made me put into it when I was young) it really made me pause and reevaluate how we talk about the food movement and just how radical we are in our goals.

Later speakers all tied the picture of the growing food movement together, outlining its aches and pains in the cities. I learned that in Minneapolis it is still illegal (and has been since the 1960s) to grow food in the city to sell. Urban farmers talked about how difficult it is to find a place where they can process food they've grown into shelf stable (or at least more shelf-stable than fresh vegetables) products that add value. As painful as it was to hear of all the lacks and struggles that occur on a regular basis, all in all the night was incredible uplifting and inspirational. I left thinking this is truly a time of growth and expansion for enterprises that promote community well-being and general common-wealth.