8 Rural and Small Town Trends for 2017
Becky McCray, Small Business Trends
A few trends for rural and small towns for 2017:
Three of CFFP’s core guiding principles are rural community resilience, social equity, and family wage job creation. Understanding business trends in the rural communities where we engage is crucial in realizing these goals and making sure that rural communities do not get left behind. The trends listed above point to an expansion of markets for local and differentiated foods, which is encouraging for the investments we’re pursuing.
The Future of Food: Seeds of Resilience
Global Alliance for the Future of Food
As a place-based group of food systems impact investors, CFFP is in no way exempt from the urgent call to action presented in this report. In fact, CFFP members occupy unique positions of power near a city that articulates global health and development policies. Our ability to contribute to a culture that values local economies, local knowledge, and local resources has enormous potential to contribute to similar movements across the globe.
Seed diversity and genetic modification is a paramount issue for both agribusinesses and environmental and food justice activists around the world. This report provides a diversity of perspectives from prolific contributors ranging from indigenous activist Winona LaDuke to plant geneticist Jean-Louis Pham. Given these perspectives, the report asserts 3 proposals concerning the future of our global seed stock: 1) develop a coordinated advocacy strategy in support of community-based seed systems; 2) provide greater resources and support to community based seed systems, and 3) strengthen the central role women and indigenous farmers play in agricultural biodiversity.
Harnessing the Generosity of Farmers
Hannah Wallace, Civil Eats
The farm to food bank system in Oregon hits many paying points for CFFP: improved nutrition and health outcomes for low income people, reducing food waste, bridging infrastructure gaps, and more. Within this system, OFB plays a key role in intermediary steps between farm and food bank, providing packaging and transportation that would be otherwise impossible for farmers themselves to provide. Philanthropic or financial involvement in crucial roles like OFB’s would truly be a “systems change” type of investment.
The Oregon Food Bank (OFB) has taken incredible steps towards filling local food banks with local food. What was once one of the most food insecure states in the country now has a food bank system in place that provides access to diverse, nutritious, and fresh products. OFB has achieved this by working with farmers of all sizes across the state. The farmers donate bulk produce, which is transported to food hubs, packaged, and delivered to local food banks – all by OFB volunteers. As highlighted in this article, clients of food banks like SnowCap in Portland can exercise preference, creativity, and personality in their shopping experience that is usually reserved for retail outlets. Similar efforts are occurring in Washington through Farm to Food Pantry.
“Buying Organic Honey? Here’s What You Should Know.”
Elizabeth Grossman, Civil Eats
The dilemma presented in this article is a prime example of the challenges that make us ask, “what is ‘good enough’?” in food systems work. While increased farm acreage at first appears to be a good thing, we must ask questions like “what kind of acreage?” “where is this acreage?” and “at what cost?”
Domestic organic honey may soon become a thing of the past for the United States. As industrial farming expands and encroaches on remaining prairies and woodlands, pesticide and herbicide-free land that is safe for bees diminishes. Even in remote parts of North Dakota, the “last best place in the country to grow organic honey,” beekeepers see a direct (and adverse) relationship between increased farm acreage and pounds of honey produced per hive.
"Bellingham Schools Go Local, Turn To 'Farmraising' To Fund Garden Program"
Monica Spain, KPLU
CFFP’s Market Research with Ecotrust has revealed several product categories for which alternative distribution strategies are a key recommendation. Farmraiser provides a real-time example of how creative marketing and distribution strategies can address both production and consumption needs in the community.
School fundraisers have increased healthy food access and nutritional education in several western Washington communities where schools have engaged in “farmraising”. Rather than sell cookie dough or other junk foods to raise money for school and extracurricular programs, students direct community members to their Farmraiser site. Farmraiser allows participants to purchase produce and other healthy food products from local farms within a 30-mile radius of the community, and a portion of proceeds contributes to the school fundraiser. While small farmers benefit from new customers, increased demand, and geographically concentrated markets, schools and their communities receive healthy, local foods and nutritional awareness is increased among both students and adults.
“A Burgeoning Effort to Restore Native Foods in an Unlikely Food Desert”
Alix Wall, Civil Eats
The Klamath Basin Tribal Food Security Project perfectly illustrates the aforementioned Nature article: health equity is deeply tied to sociocultural equity. In this instance, the Karuk, Yurok, and Klamath tribes reclaimed space to practice traditional food ways, which will translate to restoration of traditional (read: healthy) diets and improved health outcomes.
Article Summary: The Karuk, Yurok, and Klamath tribes have called the Klamath river basin in Northern California and Southern Oregon home for thousands of years. Colonization and subsequent mining, logging, and other forces have degraded the environment that sustains the tribe’s primary food source. Tribes shifted from their no longer reliable traditional diets to to widely available industrialized foods and as a result, the tribes experience disproportionate rates of nutritionally related diseases – type 2 diabetes rates are twice the national average.
The Klamath Basin Tribal Food Security Project is working to combat these trends by restoring traditional food ways through a revival of tribal knowledge in foraging, cultivating, stewarding, and processing. Thus far, some 4,000 tribe members have collaborated with UC Berkeley staff in a wide variety of projects including community garden workshops surveys, focus groups, policy discussions, food production workshops, native food camps, and after-school programs to pursue their goals.
“Origins of the obesity pandemic can be analysed”
Steven Parry Donald, Nature
The connection between food culture and obesity makes an argument for food systems investment that supports First Foods, traditional farming, and other cultural resilience efforts taking place in our communities.
Article Summary: Strong culinary identity and strong food culture may foster resilience against the obesity epidemic. While measurable causes of caloric intake and physical activity have long been cornerstones of obesity analyses, University of Toronto Public Health professor John Frank argues that these factors are secondary to history and culture.
By looking at obesity trends over time between countries, Frank identified countries in which the obesity epidemic began later, grew slower, and ultimately plateaued at lower levels than leading countries such as the United States and Australia. These countries include Italy, France, and South Korea among others. Their apparent resilience to the obesity epidemic, Frank argues, is a strong sense of traditional cuisines. Having developed over centuries to sustain societies, traditional cuisines are arguably healthier than modern ones. Societies such as the United States which had a rather shallow sense of culinary identity are more likely to transition to industrialized, processed foods that are so closely associated with increased obesity.
New Book Challenges “Magic Carrot Approach” to Food Justice
Joanna Mercuri, Fordham News
In his new book, Garret M. Broad, PhD, argues that with the advancement of food systems work comes the advancement of a food gap in which wealthier groups experience unprecedented choice while marginalized groups continue to struggle. As we move forward with research and towards fund development, we must seek partnerships with producers that understand the complexities and nuances of our food system, particularly for the marginalized consumer as described below.
Garret M. Broad’s new book, More Than Just Food: Food Justice and Community Change (University of California Press, 2016) unpacks the complexities of our food system as it relates to social and health equity. Our mainstream impression of food justice is often limited to access and availability. As a result, interventionists are often stumped: if healthy food is made available to a community, why don’t community health outcomes change? Why aren’t community members making the “carrot over cheeto” choice, now that they have it? Broad reveals a whole network of forces that influence that choice for the consumer, combating narratives of behavioral blame. These forces include local culture, historical marginalization, socioeconomic status, education, and more.
"Rest break, bonus pay still disputed in Washington"
Dan Wheat, Capital Press
While we gradually become familiar with the world of production through Ecotrust’s Market Research, there is another parallel universe we must get to know: that of the laborer. This article highlights the conflicting and sometimes contradictory issues faced by farm workers as they advocate for living wage and safe working conditions.
Many farm workers are paid by piece rate (quantity harvested) rather than by hourly rate. While legal precedent has established paid rest regardless of wage type, Washington State is still ambiguous whether or not piece rate farm workers should be paid minimum wage during breaks. For this reason, hourly wages and planned bonuses are easier to regulate, but some farmworkers prefer piece rate – fast workers can often make more through piece rate than hourly rate wages. Both sides recognize a need for education and compromise on the part of both stakeholders, but the outcome is still unclear.
"Kresge Arts & Culture, Health teams launch food-oriented grant opportunity"
The Kresge Foundation recently launched this initiative that uses food oriented development to address equity and health issues in economically distressed neighborhoods. This aligns with many of the CFFP goals, and creates an opportunity to engage other funders working in our region.
“Throughout history, food has been inextricably tied to social cohesion, health, culture and entrepreneurship,” said David Fukuzawa, managing director of Kresge’s Health Program. “This initiative recognizes both the direct positive impacts of healthy, local food and the overarching role that food can play in neighborhood revitalization.
As part of its own research, CFFP regularly illuminates educative research, media, and resources related to our work. This page contains public versions of our synopses.