July 1, 2009 Rebellion!

Local Food Systems – Southern Colorado Conference

I suppose the hardest thing to do, is take that first step towards change.  The reason I became incredibly interested in our food supply was because my family and myself were personally affected.  The reason why I decided to change how I eat, how I shop, and how I support businesses is because I got so sick.  And I learned so much about how we affect our environment, our policies, and our world.

When someone tells you to “buy local”, that raises some very complex questions that must be addressed.  What constitutes local?  Is local natural?  Is local as good as organic? Who sells local products?  Where can I find local producers?  How do I source my food from these local producers?  Is it easy?  If it is difficult, can I find some way to simplify the process?

Our food supply and food systems have become incredibly centralized and dependent upon large agribusiness with mono-crop mentalities.  What this means is that there are more and more acres of farm-ground being planted with just one type of crop.  In theory, this increases efficiency, and thanks to modern technology, there are several artificial inputs that can make for a greater yield, as well (also increase the efficiency of the land).  This theory makes sense, until you look at some of the costs that are not accounted for in our economic evaluation.

One cost, is the “loss” of jobs in agriculture.  As more and more family farms are turned into large farms operated by a single entity, families must still provide for each other and must seek occupations to maintain an income.  This, in most cases, leads people away from the agricultural community and into a more urban setting.

Another cost is the depletion of the natural and beneficial nutrients (and insects, microbes, and organisms) found in the soil.  Our ecosystems have been operating for thousands of years without man-made inputs, like artificial fertilizers, genetically-modified organisms, and harsh chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.  There is room for argument that new technology will “save the planet and feed the hungry”, but there is also strong evidence, backed by thousands of years of research, that proves if the soil is nurtured, it will provide.

The last cost is the social cost, the fact that if at any time food could no longer be shipped or trucked into our communities, that most of us would starve.  And to me, that is scary.  So how do we change?  How do we make sense of it?  How do we start taking these baby steps towards re-inventing a local, sustainable, and profitable food supply?

Simple – you come to the Southern Colorado Sustainable Communities Conference and hear about Local Food Systems, as this is the Session that is hosted by That’s Natural!  We will be talking about all of the resources – people, businesses, books, etc. – that you need to start making decisions about where and how you purchase your food.

Our advertisers, readership, and community have come together in the past three years to start raising questions and building networks that are sustainable and support our local economy.  At this conference, you will be able to learn and meet others that are integral in taking these baby-steps to change.

Sometimes it is scary to try and take something simple and easy, like going to the grocery store, and instead make it a complex task that requires more time and more thought.  But I can promise you, from first-hand experience, that if you just start with something small (like opening your ears to the discussion), that in no-time you will be able to source your food locally from the best producers in the world.  How do I know they are the best?  Because they are in fact people like you and me – they are your neighbors, your community, and the folks that will be here to feed you.  And that is a smart and sustainable solution to our food supply.

Tisha Casida is the publisher of That’s Natural! and a determined citizen that believes that Southern Colorado is developing into a set of sustainable and economically prosperous communities.  Her passion is marketing products and services that benefit these small communities.  If you are interested in becoming a part of the local food system and economically free from the constraints of the current food supply, please write to her and let her know you would like to be on our That’s Natural! email and mailing list at Thats.Natural.Info@gmail.com.

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