With all the methods of communication available to use today, one would think that we are well-connected. Not so!
I suspect that our rural country stores a century ago provided a better opportunity for meeting and communicating with a broader range of community members than exists today. By necessity, all families visited a local store regularly. Where is there such a central meet-up point today for an entire community? Today, our multitude of communication options and food-chain suppliers are very fast and efficient, but they tend to isolate individuals, economic classes, etc.
Good healthy food has become a common interest for folks from all backgrounds, so a recent Southern Maryland Food Council event in Waldorf was well-attended. There were farmers and foodies; homesteaders and health care professionals; educators and extension agents; food system distributors and food pantry recipients, and so on.
The meeting covered all aspects of food production and distribution, but it was organized around networking and sharing common concerns and interests. In three 30 minute sessions, participants got to choose between nearly a dozen topics of interest relating to the production, distribution and/or quality of food.
Food councils are sprouting up across the country in response to growing concerns about food deserts, the loss of prime agricultural lands, a dwindling number farmers, obesity rates and environmental problems such as soil erosion and water contamination. Food councils are usually structured to work to restore the social, economic, and environmental health of local and regional food systems.
At the end of the three sessions, attendees shared some new ideas that they had learned. Two major points emerged. First, we need to educate the general public about food and health. Second, people care about sustainable, local agriculture. Many pledged to stay engaged in the effort.
Eating well is common interest. Get involved!