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Food is the environmental movement

Cassie Pence
Greener Pastures
Vail CO Colorado

As politicians scratch their heads to find balance between our nation’s debt and the environment, there is a movement of people who have already read the scale. These people vote for the environment three times a day – during breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In a recent Time magazine article, Bryan Walsh writes: “Even as traditional environmentalism struggles, another movement is rising in its place, aligning consumers, producers, the media and even politicians. It’s the food movement.”

It makes perfect sense that food – an absolute necessity that also straddles into life’s “simple pleasures” camp – is bringing all walks of life together to create social, political and environmental change.



Think about just some of the radically different players: mothers concerned with obesity, New York chefs, home gardeners, community gardeners, Midwest farmers, hippies, beekeepers (another kind of hippy), people who eat dinner while watching the Food Network, locavores, invasivores (a whole separate column), Slow Foodies, Kelly Liken, organic farmers, home chefs, Michelle Obama, kids who love strawberries (which is all of them), Italian grandmothers who can tomatoes, American grandmothers who can peaches, crazy raw dairy farmers, Department of Agriculture, men who fish (and then eat fish), women who eat chocolate (which is all of them), health nuts that juice, health nuts that juice nuts, liquor store guys who grow sprouts.

The diversity of these small groups across the nation is striking, but the cause couldn’t be more common. We want food that is healthier and tastes better. We want our strawberries to taste like strawberries, our chicken to taste like chicken, our snozzberries to taste like snozzberries. And no matter your camp, no matter your motivation, everyone in the food movement knows: Food produced locally and organically is better on all fronts.



And please, if you’re going to e-mail me about how we can’t feed a nation on small organic farms, save the keyboard strokes and do your research. We can do it. We just need more farmers.

So as the food movement grows and creates demand for “know your farmer” food, it reduces the demand for large-scale industrial “who knows?” your farmer food. This is where the food movement and environmental movement intersect. Large-scale monoculture farming – the kind where planes fly over fields spraying toxic pesticides – damages our land, water and climate. Small, local farms will help reduce greenhouse gas emission and water pollution (a boon for the men who like to fish and then eat fish and a boon for the waning environmental movement.)

Still feeling residual inspiration from the Earth Day brouhaha, here are my top 5 resources to participate in the food and farming revolution. It’s time to wave your forks.



1. Local Harvest (www.localharvest.org)

At Local Harvest, you can find out where to buy local, organic and farm fresh food grown right in your area. There’s a searchable directory of farmers’ markets, family farms and other sustainable food sources, including meat producers. You can also learn about Community Supported Agriculture and read farmers’ blogs around the country.

2. Sustainable Settings (www.sustainablesettings.org)

In Carbondale at Sustainable Settings there is a whole lot of learning going on. The entrepreneurial non-profit organization inspires people and communities to embrace integrated solutions for sustainable development, which means they show people exactly how to live in harmony with nature. Programs and workshops cover sustainable agriculture, green development, micro-enterprise, land stewardship and art for daily life.

3. Food Democracy Now (www.fooddemocracynow.org)

Food Democracy Now! sends me petitions to sign and news to know about our broken food system in hopes of transforming it into one that’s sustainable and protects our natural environment, sustains farmers and nourishes families. Food Democracy Now! members organize both through online campaigns and in-person actions across the country.

4. Seeds of Deception

The Web site of Jeffrey M. Smith, expert on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and author of “Seeds of Deception,” tells you everything you need to know about how GMOs threaten your health, the environment and future generations, and also explains what you can do about it.

5. Seed Savers Exchange (www.seedsavers.org)

With bullies like Monsanto around, who are trying to patent our entire food supply, Seed Savers Exchange is growing more important by the day. Seed Savers is a non-profit, organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations. Seed Savers’ mission is to save North America’s diverse, but endangered, garden heritage for future generations by building a network of people committed to collecting, conserving and sharing heirloom seeds and plants, while educating people about the value of genetic and cultural diversity

Freelance writer Cassie Pence is passionate about living a more sustainable lifestyle. She and her husband, Captain Vacuum, own Organic Housekeepers, a green cleaning company. Contact her at cassie@organichousekeepers.com.


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