Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

At the Georgia Organics Conference, Winning the Argument with Flavor

The Slow Food movement is a little self-conscious. Slow Foodies are passionate about good food. Which means supporting farmers’ markets, small farmers, and organic veggies. Unfortunately, that also means paying more for those healthier choices. Which, in turn, means that the poor—those disproportionately hurt by empty calories, chemical additives, and frankenfoods—are sometimes left out.

So Slow Foodies are left to defend themselves against accusations of elitism. Ironic, since Big Agriculture has an army of lobbyists and government shills to ensure that they remain subsidized while small natural farmers are relegated to the lefty fringe. It’s a shame. And it’s the reason Slow Food and practical food activism must go hand in hand.

From Creative Loafing:

At the day’s first education session in the “Slow Food culture” track, Slow Food: From Education to Activism, the question of elitism came up almost as soon as the session’s moderator, Julie Shaffer, opened the floor for questions. Participants worried that the politicizing of the movement would drive away the very people they most hoped to reach. A young man sitting in the front row asked how Slow Food could combat the perception of elitism. It occurred to me that it wasn’t so much a question of perception – apart from right wing pundits who label every progressive thought as elitist, there aren’t a whole lot of folks accusing the organics movement of shunning the working class. In fact, this is an accusation that comes mainly from within. Slow Foodists worry about elitism because they themselves see the limitations of the movement. There’s a lot of frustration that Slow Food hasn’t figured out how to reach  the people who need it most. Organic food, especially in a state like Georgia where demand vastly outweighs supply and the State is less than supportive of small farmers, is expensive. No one wants to suggest that these small farmers ought to devalue their merchandise – small-scale farming is hardly a recipe for wealth under the best circumstances. But it’s obvious that food is an issue that traverses so many serious societal issues, from environmentalism to health, there has to be a way for the Slow Food movement to have a positive impact, beyond wine tastings and gorgeous veggie plates at high end restaurants.

In the midst of the session, I was struck by the anxiety about politicizing the movement. I raised my hand and asked about that dichotomy, when big agriculture has one of the best-funded and most active lobby machines in Washington. Surely to make a difference to the Farm Bill, or major policies on the national level that contribute to empty, harmful calories being the cheapest and most accessible, we needed to get over our anxiety and form a strong political arm? The response I got, from Joel Kimmons, who led the discussion later that afternoon on policy, was all about how as a society, we needed to learn how to taste. Then the discussion veered into America’s puritan roots. It’s clear that, in a mainly white, mainly affluent movement, there are significant concerns about how to reach out and become more effective. But there’s also the tendency, when these tough questions arise, to go back to what we’re comfortable with, which is waxing poetic about philosophy.

Read the whole article here.

 
Related Articles:


The New Farmers’ Almanac: A Collection of Essays for Beginners

What agrarian future can we realistically build together? This is a question the Greenhorns hope to answer in their latest book, The New Farmers’ Almanac 2015. Greenhorns is an organization for young farmers—a non-traditional grassroots network with the mission to promote, recruit and support the entering generation of new farmers. It exists to celebrate young […] Read More..

How to Achieve Resiliency Through Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening

In today’s world the marketplace distorts our values and our dependence on petroleum keeps us from creating truly sustainable agriculture. So, how can we achieve true wealth and at the same time make society around us more resilient? The answer, Will Bonsall believes, is greater self-reliance in both how we grow our own food, and […] Read More..

Bramble On: The Ins and Outs of Growing Raspberries

Fresh, ripe raspberries picked straight from the garden in the morning. What could be a better start to your day? According to Michael Phillips, author of The Holistic Orchard, growing your own berries is entirely possible for anyone with a bit of space and a passion for the fruit. Brambles grow from the north to […] Read More..

Turning Meat into Money: How to Raise and Sell it Ethically

The consumer demand for grassfed, pasture-raised, and antibiotic-free meats is on the rise, putting farmers and ranchers in a unique position to make a decent living on meat that is produced ethically. But, how exactly do you turn meat into money without resorting to the large-scale industrial techniques of today’s confinement-operations? Look no further than […] Read More..

How to Grow Strawberries Indoors

It’s strawberry shortcake season, which means strawberry harvesting season. But for those of you with no outdoor space for gardens, fear not—you can plant, weed, and harvest all from the comfort of your own home! That’s right: it is possible to grow strawberries indoors, from small spaces. According to R. J. Ruppenthal, author of Fresh […] Read More..