Last week I did an exercise with a 6th grade class in preparation for the fall planting in their school garden. What interested me the most was the way they see food.
Simple. Farm to fork.
But when we talked about it and I walked them through how many people are involved, they were surprised.
We started with an industrial food system:
Wholesaler / Distributor
Processor / Manufacturer
Grocery store / restaurant
Landfill or compost
Then discussed a locally based system:
And ended with the simplest system:
Gardener who saves seeds, grows and composts = a food system of one.
Obviously there are many variations on this theme, but the thought that kept popping into my head was something I read in Dawn Gifford's new e-book, Sustainability Starts At Home.
When the continuous operation of a system relies on a long and complex chain of suppliers and resources, all running smoothly, that’s pretty much a textbook example of an unsustainable system.I think we all understand that things with a lot of moving parts are inherently unstable, but when we look at the processes we operate in every day under that microscope...well, it's unnerving.
~ Dawn Gifford, Small Footprint Family
I asked the kids how they felt about all those people handling their food...and they were unsure, but didn't quite know why. I asked them if they felt things could go wrong, and they agreed. And when I asked them which system they preferred, it was unanimous.
We'll be planting the garden next week, and I'm going to challenge the class to go to a farmers market this month and write about it. I'll let you know what they have to say :-)