Cultivating Our Food Systems

Cultivating Our Food Systems

Mar 25, 2019 | Gardening Education

Accompanying us on our visit to the grocery store is the confidence that we will be provided with most (if not all) of the foods that we’re seeking. Assortments of commercialized and standardized food products are constantly emerging in our community groceries, providing us with secure and consistent sources of food. However, the consequences of this industrial food system are becoming more difficult to ignore; land is degrading, waste is accumulating, and our reliance on homogenized foods is growing. We are beginning to question the real value of these foods, their sources, and how they’ve made their way into our communities.

The unfamiliar foods positioned on the tables of the local farmer’s market are suddenly becoming more appealing, assuring us of the expansive range of food that lie beyond the shelves of our grocery stores. We’re not only captivated by the crop itself, but also by the story of the crop – how it was grown, where it was grown, whose hands nurtured it. Our connection to the food strengthens as we begin to value the people and the work put forth into cultivating these foods for our nourishment. It is such values that are influencing us to align with our communities’ food systems to take back control of the food being distributed.

Local food systems are cultivated as we integrate all aspects of the food system in ways that sustain our communities’ economic, social, and environmental growth. By conserving the network of suppliers, growers, markets, and consumers that exists around our food, we encourage the regeneration of food within our very own communities. In defining what we consider as “local,” it depends not only on the geographic range, but also on our individual embeddedness to the land. 

It is our own perceptions of food that shape our food systems; thus the food system that we accept and rely upon will reflect our attitudes and values towards food.

The sense of dependency cultivated through mass agricultural production has caused us to grow less attentive to the source of our foods and more acceptant of what is supplied to us. The dominance of the industrial food system will diminish under the collective realization that we do not have to surrender to the ideal that we are out of control of our food. In truth, our influence only appears to be limited, but when we bring our focus to the food being cultivated in our regions, for our communities, our power becomes undeniable.