Relational Foodsheds?

What is it, really, that I am up to with my current work? Don’t you ask that yourself? Where is this leading me? What has me so in its grip?

Relational eating is one part – the personal, spiritual, embodied, earthy self-as-eater.

Community food systems, or as I say in my new book, complementary food systems, seems to be part two – but I’m still groping for what that really means.

When you do a 10 or 100 or locavore diet, you realize how our current food system is like a stage set for the okay corral. Behind those false fronts is a machinery of illusion. Half way through my own 10-mile diet experiment, I saw this vividly and began to ask why, and what we could do about our utter vulnerability to the Matrix, how we could restore regional food and farming to the point that perhaps even 50% of our nutrition would come from within 500 miles of our homes.

I find that for my book tour and beyond I want to invite people into relational eating fully. Belonging through eating. Yet for me now that is just the vestibule of a mansion of relational food with many rooms. I want to restore the abundance and prosperity of our regional food systems. Somehow. That isn’t going to light up more than a few food geeks like me, though. Yet.

So the first task here is to dig in myself, run experiments, report on my learnings and then learn enough to make it clear to others. Not just clear. Yummy.

You can already see me working this. The Local Food Lab in Brazil was my first experiment. The Food 2020 event was another. I’m now cooking… so to speak… on some other cool projects on my island. But it occurred to me that maybe I don’t just need guts and chutzpah to do this step. Do I need a master’s degree in food systems?

What? Spend a year or two and many thousands of dollars for a degree that I probably qualify for having written my book! But the idea is sticking and morphing. No surprise, I just stumbled on a book on the very subject, Rebuilding the Foodshed by Philip Ackerman-Leist. And voilà! He teaches at Green Mountain College that offers one of the few specific, precise master in food systems. I think “Masters”, though, is just one form my desire to make a concrete, informed contribution might take. I’m simply heartened that as I ask the powers that be for guidance towards learning enough to give myself to this work and a pathway opens right up.

Next step: read Philip’s book. Yes, Vicki, you need to dig in to what people already know and learn, learn, learn.

So perhaps the next book after a relational diet really is the regional diet. Call it the 500-mile diet for fun, but it’s more about foodshed than miles. Could I live – with a few exotics – within the bounty provided by my region? The tribes here were largely hunter-gatherer until the westerners arrived, because they didn’t need much agriculture to survive. I’m not trying to do this in the desert, though Gary Nabhan, author of Coming Home to Eat, did just that in the Southwest. I’m doing in a land of milk and honey – and meat, veggies, fruits, legumes, grains and more. To do this I’ll need to learn a lot of what I think I need to know to stand on firm “foodshed restoration” ground. Which might amount to a Masters anyway. I think I’d need to do this for a year, all 4 seasons. I think I’d need to do what I advocate. 50% within 500 miles. Already I’m balking. No no no, I don’t want to be that conscious for that long! You know the whine. But it has a ring.

Relational eating 202. Relational regional foodsheds. And this is indeed the theme of all my work. Living well, together, within the means of the earth. You heard it here first, folks. Stay tuned.


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