How to Encourage ‘Good Food’ for Good Health?

Good food is not only more sustainable for the planet but for our health. Good food tastes really good too. But as much as good food is good for us and the planet, it is not as easy to come by as fast food and processed meals.  What can be done to make good food as common as McDonald’s? More good food policy? More good food action?

Over the past week, the inaugural Good Food Festival and Conference fed the bellies and minds of attendees.  The Good Food Festival brought together folks from all across the food system, from farmers to food businesses, from sustainable food advocates to chefs, from families to even this pundit.  It was not only 5 days of celebrating and eating good food, but also a time to share ideas to make good food a common occurrence.

One common theme from the event was the notion that food and the health of our people are tightly intertwined. Bad food is connected to bad health, good food is connected to good health. “We are not going to change the health system unless we change the food system,” says Ken Kaplan from the MIT Collaboration Initiative.  But then, how do we change the food system?

One approach is to getting more good food is from the top down.  In other words, make policy adaptations. Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch, says “We don’t think we can do it without fixing some of the broken policies.” The Farm Bill is that very policy that is passed every few years at the Federal Level. It can be used to help or hinder the marketplace for food and agriculture. Food and Water Watch even has a petition of items that attempt to level the playing field, to be included in the next Farm Bill.

Another approach is to work from the bottom-up. Mud Baron, Executive Director at School Garden Coop, hinted at focusing more on action rather than more policy.  “We don’t need policy papers.  We know this.”

Baron’s work includes hands-on teaching of gardening at schools. Baron’s mantra, which he got the whole crowd to echo, “Kids that grow veggies eat veggies.  Kids that cook veggies eat veggies.” To paraphrase an old adage, if you give a person a garden you feed them for a day, if you teach a person to garden, you feed them for a lifetime. We can’t just give good food away, it has to run deeper.

So, what do you think? How else can we get good food for good health? What are the policies that we need to enact to make good food a reality? What are the policies that we need to abolish from the federal government to get more good food? What other bottom-up approaches to good food are out in the marketplace?

I look forward to the day when good food is available at almost every street corner.

Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.

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