3. Focus on “off the farm” efforts. Without diluting the attention we pay to our local organic purchases, we need to expand our scope beyond the farm. We need to include a broader perspective when we think about food: How do we prepare it? Dispose of our waste? How is it packaged? Transported? These questions are on the fringes of the green food movement, and need to become centralized. To assess how green a restaurant is, for example, perhaps we need to be asking about their waste programs as intently as we inspect the menu for signs of organic and local purchases.
4. Shift the center. There is a tendency in social movements for the vocal fringe to speak with the loudest voice. In many cases this does a world of good, especially with young movements that need attention. As a movement matures, such as the growth in the past years in the green food arena, we need to shift the voice to the center to try to bring the conversation to the masses. The risk, if we don’t do this, is alienation.
Those of us that are part of this movement – perhaps most of you reading this blog – might forget that we are already part of something radical. My case in point: organic food sales, for all the press they have gotten, are still less than 5% of the total food bought in the US . Less than 5%. And while farmers’ market sales are increasing, they represent only 1% of the food purchased.
Without moving the overall food movement too much farther, we need to allow the bulk of society to catch up, so that together we can all take the next steps when the time is right. We need put our collective efforts toward supporting the rest of society in taking these first small steps.
In this context, we need to applaud the efforts of large companies such as Bon Appetit Management Company, serving thousands of sustainably sourced meals every day. And while companies like WalMart are certainly a mixed bag, at best, when it comes to green we need to continue to support their move toward organics and toward localized distribution. It is these large companies that will change the world, if by their size alone.