As much as I love our new president and his wife Michelle, I never thought they'd become the center of sustainable food movement. But that's exactly what they did last month when they planted a victory garden in their White House lawn.
I hadn't really reflected on the significance of this moment until Tuesday when I heard Josh Viertel, the new President of Slow Food USA give a speech at the Food Systems Network event in New York City. His organization is a strong advocate for increasing access to good, clean food in this country and expanding interest in connecting Americans with how and where their food is grown.
According to Josh, Slow Food and other sustainable agriculture advocates are now dealing with an administration in Washington that 'gets it.' An immensely different climate from just a year ago.
The current administration now understands we cannot achieve reforms in health care or the environment or in education without looking at our agriculture model. And scientists at the CDC are now fans of Michael Pollan. When he mentioned all these things, I couldn't help but smile.
So what's next? According to Josh, our role is now to back up Obama.
In other words, we need to create a movement.
We must continue to vote with our dollars - buying foods from our farmers markets. As well as get involved in the political debate - writing our congressmen and signing petitions that influence policy.
I'd also add that we need to start a dialogue withing our communities. Specifically: Why is having local, organic, sustainable food important to you?
It's important to me ever since I started noticing the connection between food and health. I was first exposed to high quality food when I started shopping at the Ferry Building Farmers Market in San Francisco. I'd come during my lunch time and pick up a few things to cook with. I was amazed by how beautiful the produce looked. How proud the growers were of their food. And how much better the food tasted.
Instead of looking at cooking as a chore, it became a passion of mine. I began to lose weight and have more energy. My health improved dramatically. I now look at my investment towards better food as being an investment in my own health care. And unlike my stock portfolio, it's actually paid off - I haven't seen a doctor in three years.
And if my heartfelt explanation isn't good enough for you. Here are some left-brained reasons why clean food makes sense.
*ENVIRONMENT - Our agriculture industry emits more carbon in the atmosphere than all our automobiles. Let's create a sustainable plan by encouraging more local produce. Create policies that support small farmers, instead of supporting large agribusiness and cash crops (like corn and soy).
*EDUCATION - Studies show that kids who eat well are more focused and perform better in the class room. Before investing money on new tests and more homework, we need better food in our schools. Get the soda and sugar out too.
*HEALTH CARE - We continue to spend more every year yet we get sicker. Our system is broken. Let's create funding for preventative treatments and approaches. We spend billions of dollars treating diet-related diseases (like diabetes). Teaching prevention costs just a fraction of this.
I'd love to hear why good clean, food is important to you. Please share!