BY ANTONIO ROMAN-ALCALA – MAY 21, 2013
By asking Who is in control here? the sustainable food movement sets example for broader green movement
It’s an exciting time for the good food movement. Sometimes it can feel as though the efforts to make agriculture more sustainable are the most visible and active component of the broader environmental movement. This shouldn’t be surprising. Our relationship to food is visceral, emotional, and continues daily. Climate change, as important as it is, can feel abstract.
If you’ve seen Food Inc. or read any Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan, or Rachel Carson, you know that the sustainable food movement is trying to address the social and environmental problems created by an industrial farming system in which convenience and profit trump everything else. The responses to industrial farming have included critiques like Silent Spring, the back-to-the-land and organic farming spark of the late 1960s, the family farm movement that resisted bankruptcy and corporate consolidation in the 1980s, and now the urban farming movement that has burgeoned during the past 10 years.
Many elements of the sustainable food movement have been organized by (or organized for) the two most obvious sectors of the food system: eaters and producers. Generally food activism has revolved around those who grow the food and those who eat it. In parts of the world where populations are still largely agrarian, eaters and producers are often the same people, but here in the United States (where the farming population hovers around 1 percent) consumers have been the dominant focus of food policy, at least for the past 40 years.