Tuesday, August 9, 2011

At the Board of Supervisors

I was impressed today by the knowledge some of the members of the Board of Supervisors showed - knowledge of the food forum report, and even the food system assessment. They had done their homework, and several showed that they had been paying attention to opportunities to address issues in their districts. Good for them.

Both the food forum report and the report of the survey of county lands to identify food growing potential were received unanimously.

What's distressing me, though, is the class bias evident on the part of two of the supervisors. Some of this relates to the obesity epidemic, and the facile drawing of cause and effect relationships. Makes me want to get up and scream, "I am fat and I do not eat fast food, nor do I have diabetes!"

There's a lot of blame the victim going on, too - as though avoiding obesity and diet-related diseases were simply a matter of personal discipline. I really do not care that one of the supervisors felt the need to confess to eating potato chips last evening. So what! Just because he has internalized the food police does not mean that he has the answers, or that the answers are a matter of conscience for everyone. Busy middle and upper middle class families should resist drawing parallels between their lives and the lives of the working class, working poor, and poor.

There was some poo-poohing of community gardens as no real solution to anything, too, and I wondered about that. I see the difference that our community garden makes in the diets of the 16 households who garden there, and their friends and networks. Other gardeners are constantly commenting on how at this time of the year they eat from the garden. One gardener shares with those for whom she provides in-home care, another pair of gardeners shares with their congregation and a twice monthly food pantry. A number of us swap our excess with other gardeners, give it to friends, get it to FISH or Food for Thought AIDS/HIV food pantry. We aren't very good at counting the pounds we share, but my guess is that at least four times as many households as garden get some benefit - some fresher or more varied produce - than they would otherwise. And when we talk about ways to use county land - spots that are too small for even small-scale commercial farming, can serve many households with fresh, local vegetables.

Now the work continues. The Board of Supervisors knows that there is a Food System Alliance, and we are working with them on the goals which surfaced from the forum, and on developing an action plan.

Finally - I would love to post a link to the forum report here, but I can't find it where it was supposed to be, on the Ag Innovations web site. grrrrrrr.

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