Collaborative Urban Food Systems

  1. Group Introductions
    1. Margo teaches youth, and others, how to be agents in their own food system
    2. Steph stresses the importance of food sovereignty
      1. It is important for city kids to have connection with their food and where it comes from
      2. Food ownership is crucial
  2. Margo lays out the objectives (focused on fostering a more cooperative economy) for the hour:
    1. Understand the basic concepts about cooperative urban food systems
    2. Visions of urban food systems
    3. Concrete actions we can take to increase cooperation and collaboration
  3. Concepts
    1. What are food systems, in general?
      1. The production, marketing, processing, distribution, waste management of food
      2. How can we make this more of a closed loop?
        1. Less concern with marketing and distribution
        2. Instead, market from farmer to consumer directly
    2. What is community supported agriculture (CSA)
      1. Knowing your farmer
      2. Working directly with a farmer
      3. Paying a certain amount up front for a share of crops
      4. Helping farmers spread the risk of farming into the community—not solely on the farmer
      5. Helping farmers plan at the beginning of the seasons
        1. Quality and yield is dependent on farming conditions and weather
    3. What is the difference between food security and food sovereignty?
      1. Food security
        1. The availability of food, regardless of type, method or location of production
          1. One experiences food security if they have access to safe and nutritious foods that meet their dietary needs
      2. Food sovereignty
        1. The right of people and community to define their own agricultural, labor, and land policies that are ecological, socially, economically, and culturally appropriate for the community
        2. Control of how food is produced, distributed, etc.
        3. Democracy and decision-making in communities
          1. Deciding where their food comes from, etc.
          2. Interdependency between communities
      3. It is possible to be food secure, but not food sovereign
      4. Examples of food sovereignty:
        1. Havana, Cuba has a higher level of food sovereignty than most cities
          1. Doesn’t grow everything within city limits, but works with communities outside of the city
        2. Detroit, MI
          1. Boom in urban agriculture because economic situation forced them into this way of living
        3. Transition towns
          1. Transition towns encourage cooperative living and foster further cooperation in various ways
          2. Specifically, transitioning out of dependence on fossil fuels
  4. How are organizations encouraging cooperation?
    1. Steph:
      1. Plant Chicago is cultivating local circular economies
        1. Operates at zero waste – using a “waste station”
          1. Composts and recycles
          2. Waste stations remind folks that waste does not disappear, and forces people acknowledge and confront their waste
        2. Open-source data
        3. Goal to increase compost and decrease recycle and landfill waste
        4. Partnership with Link
          1. Gives underserved folks using Link a chance to access cooperatively grown/distributed, healthy foods
          2. Teaching people how to cook these foods
    2. Nick:
      1. Cannot rely on recycling alone
        1. Not everything recycled gets recycled
        2. There is no market for recycling
      2. Advocates for CSAs
        1. This is a great way to support urban food systems
        2. Pay-as-you-go model
          1. Some CSAs work on Link and EBT programs
        3. “Band of Farmers” is a resource that helps find a CSA near you
        4. AUA has a directory of all the urban farming going on in Chicago
          1. (register your community garden/farm too)
      3. Agriculture is all about capital
        1. For example, food distribution requires refrigerators and cold storage
          1. Because these tools are needed sometimes, but not other times, urban farms are working together to share these resources/labor
  5. Audience questions/comments/concerns:
    1. How to reach people on Link/SNAP benefits?
      1. Fair Share CSA coalition in Madison
        1. Work together to raise funds and accept SNAP benefits
      2. Encouraging folks to use those benefits at farmers market
        1. Inform them that this option is available
    2. What is the Chicago Market cooperative?
      1. Consumer cooperative
      2. Looking to be a full-service grocery store
      3. Wants to make a change in the food system
      4. Distribution is poor in Chicago
      5. Largest store in an urban environment
        1. Wants to influence those inside and outside of the city
      6. Anticipates accepting SNAP
    3. The Farm to School organization
      1. Paying farmers a fair wage for producing food and distributing to schools
      2. “Cosmetically imperfect seconds”
        1. Produce that would not sell at a co-op or farmers market, but is still acceptable to eat
        2. Getting this to public schools
        3. Garden, cooking, nutrition education for kids
    4. Actions we can take, ideas/models that are inspiring
      1. How can one get involved?
        1. Look up AUA directory
      2. Undocumented immigrants
        1. Farmers markets very strict
    5. Where should be put our energy? Should we build from the bottom or rely on the state?
      1. Build/strengthen the community
      2. Find out what is happening in your region
      3. Whatever makes the most sense the individual