For the founder of the Fair Food Network, fixing our broken food system means going beyond eating local and organic foods. In Fair Food, Oran B. Hesterman firmly argues this vision: “It’s not unimportant to focus on what you’re doing in your kitchen,” he writes. “But it’s equally important to move beyond your refrigerator and engage as a fair food citizen.”
Being a fair food citizen involves redesigning the entire food system. The way Hesterman sees it, we need to adopt new public policies that “will catalyze more local and regional production, support more local and regional food businesses, encourage farmers to grow their food in more environmentally responsible ways, and provide everybody, no matter in what zip code they live, access to healthy and fresh food.”
Currently, reports show that the bulk of our food is not grown, packaged, distributed, or sold in a way that protects the environment, farmers, or consumers. In 2008, over 40% of food calories consumed worldwide came from just three crops: wheat, corn, and rice. The leading source of pollution in 48% of America’s river miles and 41% of its lake acres? Agriculture. Thankfully, writes Hesterman, our awareness of these statistics is growing. We’re conscious that things need to change, and people from around the globe are developing models to reform our food system. But consciousness alone is not enough.
Hesterman has written an informative book, describing the four principles that the remodeled system needs to embody – equity, diversity, economic viability, and ecological integrity. By the end, readers have indeed gained a clear understanding of what a reformed food system looks like, but more importantly, how to cooperatively realize that vision. Counterintuitive as is it may seem, we need to shift from “conscious consumption” and toward “engaged citizenship.” Timely and inspiringly optimistic, Fair Food challenges and guides readers toward sustainability and health, for themselves and their communities.
Photo: Douglas Elbinger, 2010