Excerpts from Mark Bittman's NY Times Opinionator blog on "food and all things related", March 22, 2011 The great American writer, thinker and farmer Wendell Berry recently said, “You can’t be a critic by simply being a griper . . . One has also to . . . search out the examples of good work.”
I’ve griped for weeks, and no doubt I’ll get back to it, but there are bright spots on our food landscape, hopeful trends, even movements, of which we can be proud. Here are six examples.
• Not just awareness, but power | Everyone talks about food policy, but as advocates of change become more politically potent we’re finally seeing more done about it. . .
• Moving beyond greenwashing | Michelle Obama’s recent alliance with Wal-Mart made even more headlines than the retailer’s plan to re-regionalize its food distribution network, which is if anything more significant. The world’s biggest retailer pledged to “double sales of locally sourced produce,” reduce in-store food waste, work with farmers on crop selection and sustainable practices, and encourage — or is that “force”? — suppliers to reconfigure processed foods into “healthier” forms. . .
• Real food is spreading | There are now more than 6,000 farmers markets nationwide — about a 250 percent increase since 1994 (significant: there are half as many as there are domestic McDonald’s), and 900 of them are open during the winter. . . .
• We’re not just buying, we’re growing | Urban agriculture is on the rise. If you’re smirking, let me remind you that in 1943, 20 million households (three-fifths of the population at that point) grew more than 40 percent of all the vegetables we ate. City governments are catching on, changing zoning codes and policies to make them more ag-friendly, . . .
• Farming is becoming hip | The number of farms is at last increasing, although it’s no secret that farmers are an endangered species: . . . But efforts by nonprofits like the eagerly awaited FoodCorps and The Greenhorns, both of which aim to introduce farming to a new generation of young people, are giving farming a new cachet of cool. . . .
• The edible school lunch | The school lunch may have more potential positive influences than anything else, and we’re beginning to see it realized. . . . There are scores of other examples, and we’re finally seeing schools rethinking the model of how their food is sourced, cooked and served, while getting kids to eat vegetables. That’s good work. . . .
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