My name is John Hallett and I live in Boulder, Colorado, though I am originally from the great combo-state of Minnesconsin (born in St. Paul, MN; raised in Appleton, WI). I will be contributing to the PeaceMeal Project because I thoroughly appreciate geographically-distant collaboration and I’m convinced that I will spend my life engaging with food and peace across scales, so it seemed fitting.
Why I like food…
I eat food. Everyday, without fail, I consume calories that at some point or another were produced by the sun and the earth and the agriculture that has developed over the millennia. Through food I feel connected with the past, present and future. Every organism requires material sustenance of some form and the same is true for the current, ever-increasing human population of Earth, thus food is one of the most basic and powerful shared interests of humanity. Food production and consumption have generated cultural traditions and served as a conduit between individuals and groups throughout history, fostering interdependent community and facilitating the development of our many varied civilizations.
In the eyes of many, producing sufficient food for a given population is a burden that, once solved, should be cast aside. One’s disassociation from the toil of food production has long been a measure of one’s stature and signified the squelching of anxiety over access to adequate nutrition – a laudable goal indeed! However, when everyone seeks to disconnect from food production and they succeed, funny things start to happen. Obesity and diabetes rates increase, while traditional knowledge and crop biodiversity decrease. The average age of a farmer increases along with the average size of a farm, while farming households earn less per food dollar spent and urban households expect to spend less and receive more. Some call this efficiency and cite continual increases in productivity as evidence of our mastery of nature. Yet, we are faced with the inevitable question, how long can we continue producing food in this way? I don’t have the answer and I don’t think any one person does. But that, in and of itself, is why I like food – if you are connected to your consumption of food, you are necessarily connected to everyone else on the planet and can begin understanding the social and environmental problems that humanity faces.
Food can bring us together or it can create serious conflict. Today’s food system is global in nature but still necessarily relies on the local. If we unite and promote sound stewardship of the natural resources involved in food production, we increase the likelihood of developing creative, durable solutions in the context of scarcity which advance peace, justice and dignity for human and non-human inhabitants of Earth. The University of British Columbia’s Food System Project aptly posits, “there is no aspect of life that cannot be related to food: from human well-being and health to biodiversity and ecosystem health…to the impacts of human activity in the natural world, to issues related to hunger and malnutrition, and to the very nature of human communities. Food thus becomes an ideal terrain for the integration of knowledge.”
As a guest contributor, I will be looking at many aspects of food and connections to the NPA-defined Spheres of Peace, focusing primarily on urban agriculture, community supported production models, and institutional food issues. I’ll be presenting examples, interviewing cool people, throwing in some pictures and hopefully never taking myself too seriously. I am new to this whole blogging thing, so I hope you enjoyed my perspective and I look forward to my next post.
contributing from Appleton, Wisconsin