The following essay is adapted from a Good Food Life feature I wrote for the Michigan Good Food Charter Newsletter.
Until our grant funding came to a close on 10/15/2015, I was the Grassroots Organizer for Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy, a coalition-building project of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition with the aim of uniting and elevating Michigan voices in support of policies that expand opportunities for rural and urban farmers to produce good food, sustain the environment, and contribute to healthy and vibrant communities.
I am now employed at Ecology Center as the Farm to Institution Campaign Director. By collaborating with many people and organizations around the state, we are working to transform and strengthen local communities through food and farming. Institutions like schools, hospitals, colleges and universities play a major role in their communities and they can harness their purchasing power to shift toward a healthier food system.
When we have a strong local food system,
we have the power to transform not only the way we eat, but also the way we relate to each other.
Federal policies have a profound effect on what happens on the ground in Michigan. I have been working with NSAC Michigan members and other food and farm allies to advocate for food and farm policies that: create jobs and spur economic growth through food and farms; make healthy food more available and accessible to all Michigan residents; support and invest in beginning and minority farmers; protect Michigan’s natural resources and help farmers care for their land; and strengthen urban & rural food and farming connections.
Over the next five years, I think that more “good food” stories will emerge, and the picture of what we’re all working toward will become clearer. There are more and more opportunities for intersections and collaboration among groups working to better the food system. For example, local food policy councils and similar groups will gain a stronger voice at the local levels of government as well as statewide and nationwide, helping to build support for a wide array of efforts to strengthen regional food systems.
Over the next five years, more stories will emerge
and we’ll start to see a better picture of what we’re all working toward.
My favorite part of my work is/has been meeting and collaborating with the people are who are making long-lasting transformations in Michigan’s economy and communities through their work in local and regional food systems. I have had the privilege to talk with chefs, beginning farmers, veterans, multi-generational farmers, school food service directors, youth gardeners and entrepreneurs, farmers market managers, directors of food systems organizations, and community groups. What all these people have in common is a vision they share for a diverse, healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system.
When we have a strong local food system, we have the power to transform not only the way we eat but also the way we relate to each other and the ecosystems of which we are a part and upon which we rely. It can be a little overwhelming when you start to think about all the many, many, things going on in Michigan that support local food and farms. I think there are two important things to keep in mind: First – no matter how small an effort you make toward a better food system in Michigan, it still makes a difference. Second – I like to think that the best way to get engaged is to identify what you love about your local food system and work to keep it strong.
No matter how small an effort you make toward
fostering a better food system,
it makes a difference.
Learn more about federal farm & food policies and programs.
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Learn more about statewide good food systems advocacy, research, and programs.
Michigan Good Food Charter