UCCE Sonoma County
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UCCE Sonoma County

Posts Tagged: Food Systems

Thinking inside the blog

At the recent ANR Statewide Conference, historian James McWilliams gave UC Ag and Natural Resources staff and academics a new mantra to consider. For years we've been trying to "think outside the box." McWilliams shared the revelation, "There is no box." That gave UCCE Ventura County director Rose Hayden-Smith something to ponder in her blog, posted today on the Web site Civil Eats.

McWilliams probably jarred most of the people in the ANR audience with his comments.

  • He said it is simplistic to think of food in terms of chemicals vs. no chemicals.
  • He asserted that meat should be eaten in small amounts and not very often, if at all.
  • He believes the "genie is out of the bottle" on genetically modified organisms, which he said have the potential to feed more people with less land using less pesticides.
  • He said the the Locavore movement seeks to “banish to the dustbin” other food system models
  • He suggests any new food system framework will be formed by evolution, not revolution.

In her online post, Hayden-Smith said she sometimes agrees with McWilliams, but made her own points about the future of American food systems:

  • She is a strong believer in the value of strong local and regional food systems, and actively promotes them. 
  • She believes that multiple food systems exist – and probably always will – and that most people participate in several kinds of food systems simultaneously. 
  • She said there is room and opportunity to develop alternatives for the places and situations in our country where the predominant, or meta, food system is not working effectively.

Hayden-Smith commented in the blog on another presenter she had heard speak recently, MacArthur genius grant recipient Will Allen.

Allen advocates for the creation of a public-private institution called the Centers for Urban Agriculture that would combine all of the elements of a functioning community food system scaled to the needs of a large city. The elements would include a training and outreach center, a large working urban farmstead, a research and development center, a policy institute and a state-of-the-future urban agriculture demonstration center.

Hayden-Smith points out that Allen's vision is not only a new food system model, but suggests a new kind of extension model. In conclusion, she wrote, "McWilliams’ ideas actually retain the box - or framework - of the existing national and largely industrialized food system. Allen’s work assumes no box."

Posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 2:01 PM
Tags: food systems (10)

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