Local, sustainable foods are “in.” But what I think should be “in” is reworking the whole system of food and agriculture from the bottom up. At the Rural Enterprise Center, a program of Main Street Project, we’re pushing the envelope far into the future of sustainable agriculture enterprise development. Along with dozens of partners, we’re organizing resources to become part of a new food and agriculture system or ecology — one designed with the well-being of everyone in mind: farmers, business, communities and consumers.
A “sustainable food and agriculture system” in our new framework addresses three core issues.
Social responsibility: A socially sustainable agriculture and food system does not depend on cheap labor and the conditions associated with it. People who work for minimum wages don’t do so happily. They live in poverty and are one step away from economic disaster. The current food and agriculture system perpetuates these conditions around the world. In the quest for bigger, global profits, it suppresses the creativity and innovation needed to help more food growers provide for their families and actively participate in community life.