Food naturally brings people together. Whether it’s making a meal, supporting a farmer, sharing a recipe, or celebrating a special occasion: food is communal.
In years past, we've hosted an in-person event called Fork Fest in Grand Rapids and Holland, bringing local food-based businesses together with the community, surrounded by music and art. As it did for many others, 2020 put a halt to our in-person gathering and now 2021 has posed new challenges. Our food-based businesses continue to provide excellent service, tasty treats, and a sense of place while battling staffing challenges, supply chain shortages, and financial hardship. People First Economy remains passionate about our food economy and supporting our local businesses through these challenges.
Introducing: Nourish our Community
In lieu of hosting a Fork Fest event this year, we are focusing our energy over the next two weeks on highlighting ideas, resources, and partners that help build a stronger food system. We believe that nourishing our community means providing the ingredients necessary for growth, health, and equity within the food economy so that the environment, businesses and local communities thrive.
As the local food movement has evolved, so has the desire to know how our food is sourced and how it arrives to our restaurants, markets, and tables. According to SupplyChainX, we have five major players in the food system to thank:
- the farmer;
- the processing center, where that food is collected;
- the regional distribution center;
- the local retailer (aka, the restaurant or grocer);
- the hungry consumer
- and, we would add, nutrient managers (aka, the composters/food waste handlers).
As players in the local economy and food movement, we're asking the question, "Are these systems fair and equitable?"
People First Economy is a partner in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have been put forth by the United Nations Global Compact. As such, we're driven to better understand how we can support strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth.
Slow Food USA, a nonprofit raising awareness about the current state of our food systems, notes that "all too often the voices of People of Color, poor or low-income people and women are excluded from the mainstream food movement." They cite issues of land theft, worker exploitation, lack of access to healthy foods, and the growth of food apartheids as key disparities.
Can our local food systems be part of the solution? We think so. – by improving the viability of small-scale food producers, building reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure; reducing retail and consumer waste via production and supply chains, and reducing waste generation through prevention. And wherever you fall in the food system, there’s a place at the table for you.
Michigan Good Food Charter Gathering (virtual) – October 13-15
Local and state partners alike are working toward fair and equitable solutions. This month, the Michigan Good Food Fund will bring together food systems advocates and practitioners to preview and gather feedback on components of the updated Michigan Good Food Charter, including ideas for action and draft frameworks for collaboration at a statewide level. Additional breakout conversations and considerations include: Food Access to Food Sovereignty Strategies, Health Equity in the Food System, and Sustainable Ecosystems and Climate Change Mitigation sessions. Get your ticket by October 10th to attend, then join Local First and Good For Michigan the weeks of October 18th-22nd via Instagram as we debrief the findings from the Gathering event.
Ok, enough work. Let’s play!
To sweeten the deal, you can participate by voting with your dollars to create and support a joyful and sustainable local food economy. Play Bingo with us and take actionable steps to nourish our community and invest in our local farmers, growers, food producers, grocers, and restaurants! You can even use the game to create your own Fork Fest with family and friends.
How to play:
Players mark their completed local action items to create a full row (five action items connected to form a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line). When your card is full, share it with us on Instagram by tagging @localfirstwestmi, @tastethelocaldifferencethe businesses you supported; and use the hashtag #EatLocal OR email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and be entered to win a free Local Food Club membership from Taste the Local Difference. Winner will be announced on October 26th.
Food-Based Business Resources
- Food Systems Partners Investing in Communities and Entrepreneurs
- Michigan Good Food Charter
- Marketing with Taste the Local Difference
- Michigan Good Food Fund Financing
- Fair Food Network
Dig Deeper with Taste the Local Difference
- Make Farmers Black Again
- Perspectives: What It’s Like to be a Michigan Black Business Owner
- Fall Food Tour of Grand Rapids
- Eating for the Environment
- South East Market Supplies from BIPOC Producers to Cultivate the “Beloved Community”
- Reclaiming Food Sovereignty
- Indigenous Foodways
Nourish Our Community is supported by: