-By Sara Doyle, Carleton College (’11)
The video clip included in this month’s newsletter is a clip of Jamie Oliver, a British chef who has made it his mission to spread the word about food and its effect on our health. Oliver’s primary focus is the epidemic of obesity and obesity-related diseases in the United States. He asserts that changing our food habits, which have undergone a drastic change in the last century thanks to the unprecedented growth of the fast food industry and food technology, will change our health. Eating whole foods and reclaiming the home kitchen for whole food preparation is Oliver’s prescription for halting the obesity epidemic. Diet is indeed an “upstream” determinant of health; however, even further upstream is our crippled food system. Food and nutrition security are crucial co-requisites to improving our health status.
Implicit in the idea of sustainable food and nutrition security are also economic and environmental security. A summarizing framework of these interacting facets of our food system that I particularly like is ‘community food security.’ Mike Hamm and Anne Bellows define the tenets and goals community food security (CFS): community food security is a condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice. Initiatives based on achieving CFS focus on:
- Meeting the nutritional needs and improving the health of low-income communities.
- Building up a community’s food and food access resources, like community gardens, transportation, and federal aid benefits, so that the community can meet its own nutritional needs.
- Fostering self-reliance and empowering individuals to provide for their own and their family’s nutritional needs.
- Honoring and embracing the variety of cultures and traditions within a community.
Northfield has the resources and motivation to improve the health and well being of all of its residents by supporting and expanding initiatives that work towards community food security. CFS initiatives already in place include the numerous CSA farms in Rice County, the Rural Enterprise Center community gardens, the recent introduction of EBT card readers at the Northfield and Faribault farmers’ markets, Multicultural Cooking Club with Growing Up Healthy, and increased access to fresh produce at the CAC Food Shelf. There is still quite a bit to do to work towards creating food security for and consequently improving the health of the entire community. We have the luxury, though, in Rice County of living proximal to very fertile and abundant land. Becoming an advocate for a more responsible food system is in all of our best interest.
What are other ways that Rice County follows CFS principles? How can you advocate more for CFS principles in your own life and county-wide?