On Thursday, I attended a Summit organized by the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets. The topic was how to better connect upstate’s agricultural economy with the “largest appetite in the country,” New York City. An article about the event is still in the works (stay tuned!) but it gave me a lot to think about.
One of the most important takeaways is that what farmers and eaters want are the same. It often doesn’t feel like it – especially when you read articles about poorly managed farms, pesticide-runoff, or the endless debates over GMOs – yet 99% of farmers want to grow what we want to eat. The other 1% is probably growing crops to be used for ethanol. (These numbers are not even remotely official. Please do not use them in any paper requiring actual data.) Journalists and activists on all sides who decide one aspect of our food system is bad and another good are missing the point. Knowing what “bad” is doesn’t make it better, but it does make it really hard to have a conversation that might lead to change. If you’re the type of person who has been looking for a more neutral voice in food journalism, you’ve come to the right place. There’s a smart, growing community of us out there and I hope we can band together and make our cautious speech as loud as the shouting that surrounds the most contentious food issues of our day.
In September I started a two-year Master’s program at NYU to get a degree in Food Studies. This is one of those degrees that means something different to every student. For me, it was an opportunity to dig deeper on issues of food economics, policy, statistics, and trade. I want to go deeper into our food system than relying on a theory of good and bad. People – because I can’t be the only one – need to start finding economically and environmentally sustainable remedies for the upset stomach that is global food. It’s time for us to all sit down, take a time-out, and swallow some Tums.
Though I’ve been called a food blogger more times than I care to count, I haven’t had a personal blog in over two years. I write one or more articles a week about food and agriculture yet it’s a little terrifying to go back to sharing naked, non-narrative thoughts with anyone who stumbles onto them. This blog won’t always be serious and it won’t always be directly about food (because we all need a break sometimes) but I hope you’ll join me on the ride. If you have suggestions for topics I should look into or comments about something I’ve written, I hope you’ll reach out. I might hate my inbox but I love a good email.