Monday, March 10, 2008

Edible NYC: Building the "Good Food" System

I attended the Edible NYC conference this weekend and I was inspired. Despite the pouring rain, so many people came out to talk about local, sustainable food in NYC. I did not expect this conference about food and community gardening to feel so much like a revival, or at the very least, a political rally. But food is political and it is soulful. The connections of community and food run deep.

One highlight of the day was a 19-year old named Kimberly Vargas, a Red Hook resident and garden advocate, who works with Added Value. This young woman preached about "real food," was angry at the food choices presented to her family and friends at local bodegas, and was fired up to help change the food system. She declared herself "soda-free" for over a year, drawing gasps and applause from the audience. She was followed by Mark Winne, the 50-something author of Closing the Food Gap. As well as food politics, he spoke poetry and told funny, colorful stories of community organizing in the 1960s.

I was smack-down in the middle, age-wise, between the two of them, and also the majority of the audience. Many in the audience and at the non-profit booths were young: some in their teens, some in their twenties. There were quite a few older folks (post-AARP age) as well, but not too many 30 and 40-somethings. I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the room feeding a family of young kids, but I felt like I might have been. This means nothing except, that it's a reminder that having a family takes a lot of time and it's not easy to do "extras" like community gardening or chatting about local food on a Saturday. Still, good food is so important for families and for children.

Good food (local, organic, sustainable) and family dinner go hand in hand. They are the foundation of healthy families and healthy communities. Here's the challenge: to build and sustain an equitable and nutritious food system. One way to start: harness the energy and enthusiasm of youth, tap into the wisdom and experience of age, and bring the gospel of "good food" down to the families with children. Then, maybe, we'll have the power of numbers to bring real change about.

Added Value promotes sustainable development in Red Hook, including the Red Hook Farmer's Market

Only the Blog Know Brooklyn on the Added Value Red Hook farm

Edible NYC was sponsored by the GreenBridge of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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