Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dreaming New Mexico: Food Sustainability and a Fair Trade State

Many of us go to the supermarket without giving a thought about the origin of the food we buy.  Did you know that New Mexico imports 95 percent of the food we consume?   On top of that, we export 95 percent of the food we grow. What is wrong with this picture? 

This is one of the issues that was discussed at the Dreaming New Mexico Food System Summit on March 10-11 in Santa Fe.  The summit brought together food advocates with members of the private sector, government and Native American tribes.

Dreaming New Mexico is a Bioneers collaborative project that seeks to reconcile nature and cultures at a state level with visionary solutions.

The centerpiece of Dreaming New Mexico’s “Age of Localized Foodsheds and a Fair Trade State” is a “future map” and companion booklet that depict both the state of the State’s food system and the “dreams” of what it could be – positive scenarios for change. 

Chances are you didn't hear about the conference because there was very little coverage in the local media. I couldn't find anything about this in the New Mexican (Santa Fe). The Albuquerque Journal had a nice story, but it was buried in page 3 of the Wednesday Food Section. I gleaned some good information from the Journal's story.

Peter Warshall, co-director of Dreaming New Mexico, mentioned a couple of trends that could impact the state's food supply:

Loss of farms, farmers, ranches and ranchers
  • Midsize farms are becoming extinct across the country
  • In New Mexico, only 4 percent of farmers are under age 35
New Mexico has no program for saving farms.  If the state has a program, you can get matching federal funding, said Warshall.

Global climate change
  • Could affect growing cycles
  • Could give rise to new pathogens and pests
But the conference also addressed some solutions and positive trends and offered some recommendations.  One that I found especially interesting was the proposal to turn New Mexico into a "Fair Trade" state.  What does that mean?  According to the conference organizers, this means instituting policies that help poor New Mexico farmers.  

And there was also the plan to promote the concept of eating locally and seasonally by extending growing seasons with hoop houses and greenhouses.  Warshall said it would be reasonable for New Mexicans to set a goal of increasing the amount of local food they eat by 2 percent.

The dialogue will continue, and hopefully some actions will come soon.  But there is definitely a commitment in our state to make some changes.
New Mexico can be a national leader in advancing a far more localized, prosperous, equitable and environmentally resilient food system, said Bioneers Co-CEO and founder Kenny Ausubel, who is co-director of the project. We have a wealth of great people and groups working hard on these issues, and many very smart public officials who understand the importance of these issues – both on the ground and to voters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow having a whole state become fair trade would be wonderful. I would move there for sure.
New Mexico seems like the perfect state to push a local foods movement.
I live in Virginia and there is a thriving local foods movement gaining here.

I wish you all much success on your project.