A Call to be a “Food Citizen”
by Christine Smith, Southcoast Food Policy Council Program Manager
“How we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.” Wendell Berry
Food – we love eating it; some people develop the knowledge and skill of growing food and the art of cooking food. Some of us want to know how and where the food is grown and if it is safe to eat. Food is part of an extensive system, a structure of many complex pieces – production, processing, distribution, accessibility and consumption, and recovery. This system has an enormous impact on our health and well-being, climate change, social inequalities, environmental degradation, clean water and air, job and economic opportunities, and equity. If you have ever played with a Rubics cube, you know you cannot solve each side individually because it is part of a more considerable structure. The Food System is the same, and we cannot solve issues within the food system unless we use a systems thinking approach and address multiple systems and strive toward long-term changes to ensure nutritious food now and into the future.
The COVID pandemic highlighted that we live in a fragile and brittle food system. We saw it firsthand last year when grocery stores ran out of food and farms were not equipped to pivot to new markets. We see it again now with the fires and droughts on the west coast that will create short and long-term impacts on our food system in the weeks and months ahead. The Southcoast Food Policy Council is building a more resilient regional food system to withstand and recover from disruptions in a way that ensures a sufficient supply of acceptable and accessible nutritious food for all.
We must simultaneously address strategies to improve health, education, grow economies, and concretize climate change solutions because the systems are interrelated. We think globally and critically in big systems, but we act locally.
As we build the infrastructure of the Southcoast Food Policy Council (SFPC), we look to you – our community and supporters – and ask, “Are you ready to become a food citizen?” Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future defines food citizenship as “more than a conscious consumer…a food citizen supports a democratic process of involving people within food system dynamics.” The SFPC is currently recruiting Southcoast-based community members that are ready to become active Food Citizens to serve on our Community Advisory Board (CAB). We are diligently establishing a cross-sector collaboration to ensure that we demographically mirror our region. We invite you, and people interested in joining the Southcoast Food Policy Council, at all levels of engagement – whether you would like to join the CAB, participate in a working group, or join in on quarterly public meetings, complete this form and return it to Christine Smith, SFPC Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.