September 11, 2017 @ the Riveter

Our previous conversations have so far synthesized down into one central theme: Access, but access can mean a lot of different things. In an effort to remove bias from the conversation we began with simply with the one word prompt.

Questions immediately flurried, what is access? who needs it? who has it? why is it good? is it good? 

The multilayered and many aspects that access has in how people eat and interact with the food system is astounding. Lack of access to the "right kinds" of foods (whole, local, sustainable) is as much a problem as the overabundance to highly processed, nutritionally bare, fast food. Even more crucial are the skillsets, time, and resources required to prepare sound meals. Our current food system leaves huge swathes of our community as food deserts, neighborhoods where "good" food simply cannot be found. Couple this with the extreme economic pressure that these same communities endure and finding time to prepare your own food becomes impossible.

The parents and adults in these areas are under immense pressure to work as many hours as possible just to make ends meet. Cooking classes and sustainable eating initiatives fall short in addressing the real problem, access in this case is far more than the physical availability of good food. How can you fault a parent that works two jobs and doesn't want to spend their few remaining hours shopping, cooking, and cleaning?

Children offer the best opportunity to enact real change. Primary and secondary school initiatives are often the first introduction that a child has to sustainable, whole food. It is paramount that this introduction is fun, approachable, and actionable. Studies have shown that educating our children on the importance of conscious eating can make a huge impact on the way the entire family eats. Allowing students to learn about carrots, gets their hands in the dirt, and taste a carrot they have grown themselves builds a connection and relationship that is hard to shake. A relationship that enriches their lives in the immediate and serves as an example of our best opportunity in rebuilding the social glue that our food system can be.