Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A food revolution? If so, what will it mean for rural America?

Don't miss Andrew Martin's story in the New York Times, one of the most popular stories on nytimes.com more than 48 hours after it first appeared. The headline: "Is a food revolution now in season?"

It cites some evidence that such a revolution is about to take off--most of it in Washington, DC, in the form of the Obama's vegetable garden and the new "people's garden" outside the USDA headquarters. Those are only symbolic, of course, and the latter hardly signals a shift in USDA policy. A more meaningful move was Obama's appointment of Kathleen Merrigan, a long-time advocate of sustainable agriculture, to be Tom Vilsack's deputy.

Interestingly, the entire story includes no mention of "rural" anything. It does, however, note Michael Pollan's advoacy of "diversified, regional food networks," a phenomenon that could bring real benefits to rural places--far more than agri-business has done.

1 comment:

Brian Depew said...

Good point, Lisa. I didn't notice the lack of "rural" in the article when I read it myself last week. It may seem trivial to most people, but whether a "food revolution" is intentionally developed as a rural development revolution too or not will have meaningful consequence.

A food revolution can be good for rural economic development, but we need to intentionally develop both policies and models that allow rural areas, even more far-flung areas, to reengage in a food economy. Currently the benefit of such markets accrues mostly to rural areas nearby larger urban markets with fewer producers in other rural areas able to tap such markets.