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Not too long ago, I read an NPR article about how they had uncovered a street stall that revealed a lot about the food systems at that time. The food was varied (researchers found remnants of duck, goat, pig, fish, and snails in pots, often in the same dish). What was an understated point was that the food was sourced and made locally.
Granted, they didn't have the efficient distribution system that exists today, but the point was that food played a central role in society and it built social capital, which is the glue that holds communities together by building trust. Why am I bringing this up? We see a return to this. It may still be early days, but it's immutable and only going to accelerate.
I was over in Wichita recently, meeting with colleagues and planning the new brand launch with John Kuefler, founder of UXWest. We had lunch at Beautiful Day Cafe. As we walked outside, we discovered a community garden under development to give access to fresh, nutritious food to nearby residents and supply the kitchen with fresh produce.
This, obviously, is not a new concept. But it illustrates the trend of the foodways system becoming more and more local. We always think of the system in its large industrial scale, but it can exist at any level. And in fact, the more local it is, the healthier the food it provides will be. It can grow to its peak ripeness and is impacted very little by transit. And it can blend into local culture and preferences in a way that supports and builds on local community relationships. Said another way, it creates social capital, and that is the future of our society.
Agree? Disagree? Is the industrial food system too entrenched for smaller, more fragmented local systems to overcome?