We have seen the tide begin to go back out on the local food fad/frenzy. High prices and over-saturation of buzzwords and marketing campaigns have caused the good times to roll to a much slower pace.
And isn’t it sad that something so vital to our health was subjected to this treatment?
I know this is not the case everywhere. But I have seen it happen in my neck of the woods. Where businesses charged pretty inflated prices for a quick buck based on serving “local” food. And where farms began to plant much higher quantities of food – eschewing quality to bring in as much money as possible.
Basically, this meant they were becoming what they once were the antidote for way back when.
Interestingly, this all took very little time to happen.
Farmers markets have popped up all over and many times it is unclear if the farmers at the markets even grow the food they sell. And this, too, is verging on over-saturation.
Unfortunately, in the process, some of the original supporters of small farms have been pushed aside and that was the core group of loyalty any industry needs for sustainability. Because, we all know that what is fashionable is also ephemeral.
So, first and foremost, that core group needs to be wooed back.
And how is this done? By making it affordable, nutritious and tasty to eat local and healthy again.
A lot of small farms jacked up prices and began looking more to quantity than quality. They planted more and stopped doing what drew people to them in the first place. They stopped going for the smaller is better motto.
It became fashionable to be a small farm – or use food from a small farm – even if the farm’s practices were not what drew people there in the first place.
We all need to expect food to be flavorful, fresh and full of nutrients. And, dare I say it, produced in manageable quantities.
Which brings me to number two -
We, as consumers, need to put our focus back on our food, and ignore the labels and marketing.
It’s not enough that it comes from a small farm or the organic section of a grocery store. We need to expect it to taste good and nutritious. And we need to make this a priority.
What I think some misled farmers and businesses failed to recognize is that after a bit of time if their food doesn’t taste all that much better than a supermarket anymore people will go back to aisles full of convenience. Especially if the prices are jacked up due to the “local” label.
We as consumers have learned a thing or two. I don’t think we’re as willing to turn our taste buds over to Madison Avenue and marketers. None of this should be big-time business. It is so ironic that something which was a response to big-time agriculture got swallowed up by big-time marketers.
We are all burned out by being told to jump on bandwagons.
I guess Madison Avenue marketers did not realize they were trying to sell to people who are savvy to their motivations and worn out by their hot air.
I believe the issue of safer and healthier food is best addressed by individuals, families and small communities.
Nothing should be decided by committees of people trying to capitalize on our fear of the food we’re eating.
In fact, just going back to learning to make food a bigger part of our lives is going to help a lot. Learning once again to nurture one another with our choices of food.
Nobody else needs to outline a food model for us. We need to create what works best for us as individuals and small communities. An important part of any local food system is our interaction and ability to make it our own.
Which brings me to ….
We need to make all of this a lifestyle issue.
Really, it is not just about food. It is about the choices we make each and every day in how we prioritize our lives.
As the title of this blog suggests, I am all for a return to a simpler way of living. When things get too complicated in one area of our lives there is going to be a carry-over to other areas. There is going to be a mindset that gets ingrained.
When we take the time for the people we care about – and focus our minds on sharing, compassion and kindness – we fuel the fires of nurturing one another, and ourselves.
And this will extend to all areas of our lives.
There have been times when I have wondered if many of the people who jumped on the local, organic food bandwagon really even cared if it lasted. This would be, of course, counter-intuitive to the message they were supposedly behind.
But how can you support something honestly if you’re not working to make it sustainable? Support does equate to sustainability.
Like so much else in life I think we as individuals have the power here. Collectively, we just need to remember to think for ourselves before someone else uses our words for their own advantage. And then nobody really wins. Well, we don’t in any case.
Which leads me to my final point on how to adapt what has happened to the local food movement to a more sustainable and healthy model –
Let’s remember to think for ourselves.