A Diversified Food and Farming System Can Feed Us All

A recent piece in a New York Times blog reviewed the risks that limited resource farmers are facing in accessing crop insurance and other forms of capital essential to running their business. One of Farmer Foodshare’s founding ideas is that a healthy food system must include and support farms of all sizes. Regional and “local” farmers are essential, both because they provide a way for all of us to know and understand our food system better and because it is a simple fact that any healthy and functioning economy must include buyers and sellers of all sizes, in multiple locations. Farmer Foodshare does not take a stance on growing methods, other than that the growing practices should care for the health of our air, land and water, and that the grower should be transparent in communicating his or her growing practices. 

We are certain that non-urgent hunger and malnutrition can be eliminated by reforming and rebuilding the food system infrastructure and helping consumers of all income levels become more familiar with the extraordinary flavors and health aspects of truly fresh “whole” food.

The first step is to support a healthy food system and then to look at ways to get fresh and healthy food in the hands of people who need it. Then, we must look at how we can build support to create employment and strengthen community relationships around food. 

Farmer Foodshare is a resource provider of “food, funds and friends” for social enterprises and nonprofits that are increasing food access. We work deeply with many partners who are creating innovative solutions from a variety of perspectives. Some are reforming the food waste system. Others are building community gardens, teaching cooking skills and connecting people with their food in that way. Still others are working at the national and state level to strengthen policy around hunger, obesity and farming. 

Food is fundamental. It is joyful. North Carolina citizens face hunger every day, but there is enough food to go around. We just need to all think a little differently about the system in place today and innovate new models for making it work better both for growers and eaters of all income levels. 

Food is a system, not a silo. What we buy, where we buy it and who has access to healthy food has an impact on economies and individuals from North Carolina to far flung places such as China, Africa and South America. 

Eat. Enjoy. Share.  

North Carolina Peaches © 2011 Mary Catherine Penn