Carrboro, North Carolina
Born and raised in central Maine, my youth was spent mowing the lawn, kicking a soccer ball against the garage doors, and trying to sneak sugar cereal out of the kitchen cupboards after I was put to bed. More about Tim
South Royalton, Vermont
I am a baby boomer who grew up in a time when the trend in food was convenience and speed. It wasn't the fast-food era, but a post-World War II time when ... More about Warren
We live in Holliston, Massachusetts. When we bought our house in Holliston about 27 years ago, Holliston was a rural/residential town of about 13,000 people. More about Barbara
Wallace, West Virginia
My name is Autumn. I'm 24 years old, and I live in rural north-central West Virginia. I was born and raised in West Virginia, and in 2005 I graduated from ... More about Autumn
My personal interests revolve around the environment, both knowing more about it and getting outside and enjoying my surroundings. This led me down an educational path to ... More about April
The leaves are starting to turn here in Ohio, and kids are going back to school. And so am I- sort of. Before the move and the baby, I was trying to finish my graduate degree. Just a few chapters left on my dissertation and I'm done! (That sentence makes it sound so easy and simple....) Anyway, in the spirit of getting back to school, I started reading academic articles again, and I came across one quite relevant to our project at Locavore Nation. I provide it as a little food for thought as it were.
In an article from the August 2008 issue of the professional geographer (Volume 60, Number 3) Professor Julie Guthman raises the question of what do farmer's markets and CSAs accomplish? Do they truly help everyone in a community, or are they just a novelty for the middle and upper class Caucasians? Does the locavore movement reach minorities of any class and the poor of any color?
Her work addresses these questions, and finds that generally farmer's markets and CSAs are accessible only to those of privilege and do not seem to be helping address the question of food security and accessibility in poor areas. This happens in part due to the location of farmer's markets, and the type of clientele CSAs seek out. To some degree the cost, especially of joining a CSA, can be off putting. Also, Guthman argues, the vocabulary surrounding local food movements often doesn't capture the imaginations of all races, and does not seem to welcome all groups to local eating.
What do you think? I know in Cleveland, the point of our CSA, City Fresh, is to increase urban agriculture and local food accessibility especially in the urban core. I don't know of their success rate, but there is quite a diverse group, both racially and economically, at our pick up spot. The farmer's market I frequent is in a racially diverse suburb and the clientele reflects that. I don't see a lot of signals for economic diversity, but they have a WIC stand, and the venders take WIC. I don't know how successful that is in drawing in people who need financial assistance. I don't know that my visual inspection is a good way to measure diversity anyway.
This article caused me to reflect on why eating local is important to me. For me, it is out of a sincere belief that my actions will help shore up local food security, that our farmers won't have to sell good quality land to development, and that all people can eat meals grown in their community and without chemicals, artificial additives, and preservatives. This article then challenges me to ask the next question- is my eating local achieving those goals?
I don't know the answer. When I talk with the farmers from whom I buy produce, I think the answer is yes. When I read more about urban agriculture and see my CSA in action, I think the answer, at least in my region, is yes. But, I'm a privileged white girl in the suburbs. So maybe I don't see the whole story. Short of doing research like Dr. Guthman, I don't know if I can find out the answers.
What is your experience? Is local food available to a diverse group of people? Does the local food movement start to address food security and food access? What benefits do you see in your area from supporting local food?