by: Lyle Luzum, President, Oneota Community Co-op Board of Directors
In April, I had the opportunity to attend, as a representative of the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative, the W. K, Kellogg Foundation’s “Food & Society Gathering for Good Food, 2009”. The Kellogg Foundation has a definition of “Good Food.” It is food that is Fair, Green, Healthy, and Affordable. “Fair” food does not depend on exploitation of people in its journey from farm to fork. “Green” food does not depend on exploitation and degradation of the environment in its journey from farm to fork. “Healthy” food encourages health, not chronic illness or obesity. “Affordable” food is available to all, not just the rich.
It struck me, as I listened to the definition, that is what the Oneota Community Food Co-op strives to sell. It also struck me that the goal of Good Food for everyone is a daunting task, for the dominant economic drivers tilt toward exploitation of both people and the environment in the farm-to-fork chain, and the promotion of nutritionally vacant “food” at prices that give the appearance of affordability (quantity at the cheapest possible price).
At the first session of the Gathering, attendees were asked to write, on the back of our ID badge, a word that represented what we hoped to gain that week. After a little mental panic, I wrote, “perspective”. Well, listening to the speakers and talking to people – the Florida farm worker involved in the battle to get tomato pickers a penny more per pound, the county supervisor from SW Iowa, the board member from Weavers Way Co-op in Pennsylvania, the organic dairy farmer from Wisconsin, the Food & Fitness Initiative representatives from Detroit working to even get a grocery chain to open a store in Detroit (there are none), the Tohono-O’odam Native Americans struggling to extract their people from the health disaster caused by the “American” diet– this gives perspective and puts our problems and opportunities in context. The micro-picture we live in can consume us, but we cannot ignore the macro-picture.
All people are on a journey with food. We are at different stages thinking about food’s trip to our plate, what goes into it, and what are the consequences. In our new, expanded store, Oneota is bringing more Good Food to more people. We invite you, where ever you are in your journey, to explore at Oneota.