Community-based food system is focus of Flint’s upcoming Food for Change Summit

By January 16, 2012Bigger Picture

The topic of food is big these days, and discussions around concepts such as local, fresh, organic, accessibility, and healthy have moved beyond specialty stores and into family kitchens and conference rooms.

The reason? Food and food sources have changed dramatically – many believe for the worse – over the decades. For example, most US-grown produce travels an average of 1,500 miles to get from farm to table. And a significant chunk of our food is grown or raised outside the US.

Somewhere between $.80 and $.90 of every dollar we spend on food at a grocery store goes to pay processors, packagers, distributors, wholesalers, truckers and the rest of the infrastructure, leaving our community. That leaves $.20 or less for the grower. By comparison, locally-grown food purchased at a farmers’ market returns between $.80 and $.90
to the grower.

Then there’s the prickly issue of the huge consumption of fossil fuel by the food industry – fuel to produce pesticides and to process and transport products – and lingering fears about recent wide-scale contamination at major food-producing plants. These, plus a host of other food-supply topics will be the subject of discussions at the “Food for Change” summit in Flint, Saturday, January 21.

Food for Change Summit organizers want to engage community partners to create approaches to these issues in Flint with the ultimate goal of creating jobs and reducing illness caused by unhealthy diets. From 10 a.m. to 4p.m. participants can take part in round-table discussions and small-group sessions to discuss food policies, food and the economy, and community-based food. The goal is to begin identifying local food issues and to advocate for a community-based
food system.

The summit will be held at the Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) Conference Center, 1401 S. Dort Highway in Flint. Local foods will be served throughout the day. The event is free to all, though participants are asked to register in advance or arrive at 9am the day of the event to register. The conference is sponsored by C.S Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Genesee County Farm Bureau, Ruth Mott Foundation and Michigan State University Extension.

Call Claudia Mach at 810-396-3101 for additional information and to register.