Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011-02-17 "Regional food council must serve people" letter by R. Warren Flint, Ph.D. [Napa] to the "Napa Valley Register" newspaper
Finally, after promise of the creation of a Napa County Food Council in April 2010, the council has apparently been appointed by the county board of supervisors.
I hope the protracted time to appointment does not imply the council’s rate of work and progress on important issues. I also hope the supervisors and county agricultural commissioner put enough foresight into their appointment of council members to meet the many challenges facing this group and to have the most experienced minds in the county working on this very important issue.
The creation of a regional food council in the present-day emphasis on community sustainability implies resilient and secure food systems able to provide healthy and safe nutrition to everyone. That means efficiency and knowing what you are eating, where it came from and not having to serve, for example, lettuce at your dinner table that has traveled an average of 1,200 miles to reach your home. I hope the council is able to quickly convene the county grape-growers to explore all opportunities and alternatives for using their capital and resources toward creating diversified agriculture strategies and a more sustainable local food system that serves the Napa region directly and is efficiently able to be distributed.
In the sense of measuring and guaranteeing that all council recommendations and actions will be sustainable, I hope there are members of the council able to carry out the fractal analysis of sustainability strategies related to developing and enhancing a regional food system. In sustainable decision-making, a strategy is judged not only for its ecological, economic and social equity capacities. The evaluation also drills down to a deeper understanding of, for example, the ecologic-equity elements, the equity-ecologic elements, the economic-ecological elements and the equity-economic elements.
I also hope the council is not going to be so parochial that it does not seek resources from other places in its deliberations. “Creative Change” provides an excellent set of resources on the topic of “Food, Farming and Community.” And then there are the Glynwood Sustainable Farming programs. Although (unfortunately) not a member of this Napa County Food Council, my experience tells me that the deliberations and design of council strategies should be a lot more than simply about food.
If the ultimate goal of this council is to design affordable food security strategies, which it should in order to truly serve the people of this bioregion, then dialogue should promote regionwide sustainability issues including social equity (equal access to food for all people), regional self-sufficiency, economic balance and environmental stewardship. The council should be able to guarantee through its work that every producer has the opportunity to make money (profits can easily exceed costs because of existing grape-growing infrastructure), all people in the Napa Valley bioregion will have access to affordable and safe food, and the health and integrity of the regional environment will be an integral part of all decision-making.

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