Monday, September 20, 2010

Eat Local Challenge

Hi Folks,

I hope you had a great week! Sunday September 19 was a big day here in the Real Food Empire. Chef John Rose and Regional Manager Brett Martin of Bon Appetite Catering Company were my guests. We were focusing on the upcoming Eat Local Challenge that all members of this national catering company will participate in on September 28. At the University of Redlands, we have an award winning program that is quite inspiring. When I first heard about the challenge from Chef Rose last Summer, he showed me his file folder which was quite thick with references and research on regional food producers and farmers. The one thing that he talked about last Summer that really struck me was how there was quite the disconnect between demand for local products and producers to fill such demands. Chef Rose said there was lots of availability, but often the farmers lacked the ability to get their products to market. They relied on the middle man, who took most of the profit, leaving the farmer often having to take a second job just to support his family so they could continue to farm. Here in the IE, we had quite the reputation for Agriculture, particularly diary, poultry and beef farms. One of the great challenges farmers face is the fluctuating price they can get for their products. Often, prices are set the year before, and the weather can destroy any well made plans for the following harvest. We have watched many a small family farm shut down or sell off to larger factory interests because they can not compete. There was an interesting article in a recent LA Times, stating that many large speculators are buying up farm land, seeing the value in "the soil." Problem is, these interests can often be very distant and often foreign interests, who are only looking at the economic outcome regardless of the cost to the community, the environment or human health. Farm land is very important to the health of the community. It is inspiring to see large corporate entities like Bon Appetite creating the culture of supporting our local health and economy by creating the Eat Local Challenge. It is a delicious example of how we can eat for the health of our bodies, our souls, the land and communities. I hope you can listen to the show, you can go to and download the podcast for September 19,  2010 and see what is going on here in your own back yard!

Stephanie Georgieff

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