What’s a Food Policy Council?

The term “food security” can mean a couple of different things. It can refer to the safety of our food, like being free from adulterants, poisons, infectious materials. It also refers to the availability of food. From World Hunger Year:

Food Insecurity- Limited or uncertain access to nutritious, safe foods necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle; households that experience food insecurity have reduced quality or variety of meals and may have irregular food intake. (USDA / Life Research Office)

Food Security – Access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum: 1) ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and 2) an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways. (USDA)

Access to fresh air and clean water are basic human needs, as without either, you sicken and die. Without access to clean food, and enough of it, lives are shortened, and the quality of life goes down.

Unfortunately, most of our food system is controlled by the needs of corporations to make a profit, no matter what. There are smaller food systems, local food systems, in some places, with farmers markets and CSA farms and food co-ops. But right now, there simply isn’t enough food being grown locally in order to feed people locally.

One emerging idea that addresses local food systems is a Food Policy Council. It entails bringing together those with a stake in the food system: consumers, producers, community groups, schools, health systems and groups working towards alleviating poverty and hunger. A council generally works as an advisory board to local government, as well as influencing policy in institutions and organizations through assessment and education. It can bring together diverse members of the community with a common need – food – and work to propose creative solutions to issues surrounding local food systems.

I have been involved with several local groups working in food systems and the local living economy project, and I recently volunteered to be on the task force to form a local food policy council. It’s always interesting to work in a group setting with other volunteers.

Mark Winne, Food Policy Council Director at the Community Food Security Coalition of Santa Fe, gave a presentation about Food Policy Councils at a local food connection meeting, and that started the ball rolling for us. Many people expressed interest and strong feelings about participating, yet only a small group shows up to work towards it. One of the things Mark said about this kind of work was “Don’t worry… it will take 20 years!”

I’m not a very patient person. I’m probably not going to spend 20 years working towards it. But, I’m willing to suit up and show up and do the work right now, because food and health are very important to me and to my community. It’s service, and it’s what I can do.

I’ll keep ya posted.

Homegrown Propaganda

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Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

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