The local food shift: What every public official, political candidate and voter should know

By Michael Brownlee
Boulder Weekly

The local food shift is gaining significant traction in Boulder County, growing well beyond the euphoric early adopter stage into early majority territory. It is unfolding so rapidly and so unpredictably that it could well be called a revolution.

If it hasn’t already, the issue of local food is about to land on the desks of public officials and political candidates, perhaps even in unexpected ways. One candidate, aware of this shift, contacted Transition Colorado and requested “talking points” on this important issue. What follows here is a very preliminary and incomplete briefing intended to help all officials and candidates quickly bone up on some of the major issues and prepare to deal with the challenges that are coming their way.

Since our current food-related laws and policies were created — and most public officials were elected or appointed — long before the local food shift began to take hold, familiarity with these issues could be crucial not only to candidates’ political future, but also the well-being of the communities they serve.

Roots of the local food shift

The essence of this nascent movement is food localization — shifting from the globalized, industrialized food system on which we all are dependent for our food needs to a resilient and self-reliant locally based food supply system, where communities are able to provision their own essential food needs by relying on bio-intensive production methods that restore soil, rekindle connection with the land and rebuild community.

The upcoming EAT LOCAL! Week (Aug. 27 through Sept. 4), organized by Boulder-based Transition Colorado, could be seen as an early cultural expression of the local food shift in Boulder County, combining a community celebration of local food and farming, an experiential connection with the local culture that is emerging around local food, and the recognition of new food and farming enterprises that may presage a new era in the local economy.

What it all portends is that many people in Boulder County are making the local food shift in earnest.

The significant benefits of food localization are well known and worth repeating:

Health: Returning to a seasonal, mostly organic local diet will significantly improve the health of our communities, especially our children, and dramatically reduce health care costs.

Environment: Shrinking our “foodshed,” which now stretches around the globe, will not only reduce food-miles, but bio-intensive cultivation methods will also sequester carbon in the soil, making food localization one of the most effective approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Economy: Rebuilding our local food system is one of the most important strategies for strengthening our local economy; food localization can create new jobs and generate hundreds of millions in new economic activity.

It should be said that this local food shift is not the reincarnation of the “back to the land” movement, nor a nostalgic return to an imagined past. While the movement occasionally draws upon ancient and even indigenous knowledge, its roots are much more recent.

Demand for access

For many, the local food shift appears to have emerged spontaneously over the past several years from a demand among our citizens for increased access to fresh, organic, healthy food grown close to where we live, preferably by people we know and trust — maybe even by ourselves. It was what we wanted for our children, for our families, for our own bodies and for our own well-being.

Inspired and informed by authors and speakers like Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, Joel Salatin and Will Allen, and jarred awake by such films as Food Inc. and The World According to Monsanto, many people saw something new appearing in our troubled society, an inspiring cultural shift. Long before anyone was calling it a movement, there was something wholesome about this local food shift. And there was a strong undercurrent of joyfulness, even fun, as we began to rediscover our connection with land and neighbors and food.

Read more at Boulder Weekly

5 responses to “The local food shift: What every public official, political candidate and voter should know

  1. this guy has one squirrelly comment — that we should reject GMOs because more food will increase human population.

    That’s a pretty bizarre and callous statement to make, and I would encourage anyone who’s developing talking points for politicians to nix this one.

    Next, since the introduction of GMOs in the mid-1990s, world hunger has grown by 100,000 million per William Freese, Senior Science Analyst, International Center for Technology Assessment (D.C.) who says:

    see chart of UN FAO figures at

    The problem with world hunger is not the amount of food we have or can produce — it’s about distribution failures, tangled in with exploitation. People can’t afford food because they’re not paid enough.

    GMOs have not increased yields. See UCS study, Failure to Yield.

  2. Slow money ? It’s a little too slow, but a good first step. Thank you, Boulder.
    I hearby call on Boulder county or the city of Boulder to create a county bank on the same model as North Dakota’s state run bank. To be used for the purpose of promoting local agriculture, etc.— Remember, we are on our own. Do not expect any help from any government agency !!

  3. Slow is a lot faster than you think. When you grow quality, all of a sudden you are overflowing in more nutirent-dense abundance than you ever imagined. Slow ends up taking less time when you see the BIG picture. Slow takes common sense, along with tuning into your senses to realize what nature is truly capable of.

  4. I can bet that anyone who is pro-Conventional farming vs. local organic farming doesn’t even know what good food tastes like. Where is the conversation about eating food that tastes good and satisfies? Try eating a coconut cream pie from Walmart and then try a homemade one made from raw milk and butter off of a local organic farm. The good pie will shut you up for days because you will be stunned at how good and satisfying REAL food is. And it ends up costing LESS in time, money and resources, which the Corporations hate.

  5. The Tea Party is about individual self sufficiently and responsibility. Home grown and locally grown is the ideal. This keeps government and big business out of our lives. Amazingly enough, environmentalists agree with us!

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