Pat Garrity on Local Foods


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at Plain Green Conference 2009

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Pat Garrity on Local Foods

  1. 1. Local FoodsYour Environment
  2. 2. Modern agriculture is dependant on economics of scale. All commodity crops are produced on the principle of lower input costs to achieve the most yield possible. This system is completely dependant on a stable and cheap supply of fossil fuel. The system has worked extremely well for 60 years. Food costs are very low by historical standards.Lately, some issues have started to surface about this system!!
  3. 3. The current industrial food system is using 18% of our total US oil consumption. The water and soil around our country is showing signs of contamination, such as the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The soil erosion is getting worse every year as we monocrop our farms. The ultra- high concentration of animals in Concentrated Animal Feeder Operations (CAFO) is also causing ecological problems such as fish kills and excess harmful pathogens in the soil.
  4. 4. The Midwest imports 97% of the food we eat! We are in the middle of the best agricultural land in the world and most of our food travels 1500 miles to reach our table. We are convinced strawberries should be available all year and do not question the environmental impact of this consumption. As long as food businesses offer us $1.00 menus, why do we care how they do it? Our preference for quality food or responsible stewardship of the environment is really controlled by money.
  5. 5. Business Environment United States Gross Expenditures on Food $444,000,000,000 South Dakota Gross Expenditures on Food $1,466,098,125 Regional Gross Expenditures on FoodSioux Falls $432,609,375 Rapid City $314,964,375Brookings $115,106,250 Aberdeen $113,891,250Vermillion $106,745,625 Pierre $100,023,750Watertown $99,380,625 Huron $74,295,000
  6. 6. What factors influence your food purchasing decision ?1) Low Prices2) Convenience3) Flavor4) Healthy / Safe Food5) Animal Welfare6) Worker Welfare7) Ecological Impact8) Transparency9) Sustainable Farms10) Organic Production
  7. 7. #1 Price Lower Wages Limited Benefits Out-flow of dollars from the community Increase production units Source inputs from lowest cost provider Apply economics of scale to production Replace human energy with fossil fuel Replace nutrient inputs with fossil fuel Distribution reliant on fossil fuel
  8. 8. #2 ConvenienceMany of us make our food choices on easy access, short term decisions and perceived time constraints.The current food industry has convinced us time is more important than nutrition, enjoyment of food or social interaction while dining.
  9. 9. #3 Flavor – TasteIt is interesting we choose short termsatisfaction over so many other factors.Flavor is so important food companiesspend millions in research to study how people react to various additives to increase product consumption.
  10. 10. #4 Healthy / Safe FoodConcerns about food borne illnesses, heart disease, diabetes and obesity have made food safety a much greater concern. As our food system becomes centralized and highly processed, our health is deteriorating.
  11. 11. #5 Animal WelfareMany large meat producers are very concerned about how their production practices are perceived.The current production practices and product quality of large confinementoperations are beginning to experience consumer resistance.
  12. 12. #6 Worker WelfareWho is the labor force providing the food on our plate? It is interesting we place animal welfare ahead of humans. Do we feel that people have freedom of choice and animals do not? Do the agricultural workers in our system have reasonable working conditions? Do the workers providing your food have reasonable working conditions?
  13. 13. #7 Ecological ImpactPollution, petroleum consumption, erosion, climate change, pesticide contamination and consumer waste are all non-issues to the majority of the consumers. Do you think about any these factors when you purchase food?
  14. 14. Many local farmers, environmentalists, animal welfare advocates, locavores, Slow Food movement advocates, Buy Fresh Buy Local proponents and many others see a different path.Eating local food connects the consumer with the farmer. The food becomes artisan, as individual as the producer. The food is not ultra-processed into unhealthy products. The farmers are producing under sustainable practices which replenishes the soil as it produces diverse crops. Many farmers are practicing organic methods, some certified organic. The food is healthy, whole and nutritious.
  15. 15. Education CampaignsThe first phase to bring local foods back to the community is education. An organized effort with clear goals and objectives must be planned, local champions identified, financial budgets prepared and a plan of work prepared. The traditional questions must be addressed: Who What Where When Why
  16. 16. “Buy Fresh Buy Local”FoodRoutes Network is the lead organization responsible for the format and continuity of the state and regional chapters.
  17. 17. Local Foods New opinions often appear first as jokes and fancies, then as blasphemies and treason,then as questions open to discussion, and finally as established truths. George Bernard Shaw