First Person: Cooperating to Build the Good Food Movement and Share Good Examples

by Wolfram Alderson, guest contributor

Wolfram Alderson is Founding Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition, a nonprofit organization located in San Francisco. Its mission is to shape the way food is produced, marketed and distributed in order to end food-related illness and promote good health, utilizing a rigorous scientific approach, and its vision is to strengthen the movement to enlighten the public about food and nutrition that reduces food-related illness and promotes a healthy society.

In this contributed column, Alderson discusses his visit to FamilyFarmed’s recent Good Food Festival & Conference in Chicago and how the efforts of FamilyFarmed and the Institute for Responsible Nutrition complement each other.

Real food, fair food, clean food, responsible food, good food. Do these sound like radical conjunctions?

Wolfram Alderson

Wolfram Alderson, the author of this article, is Founding Executive Director at Institute for Responsible Nutrition

At the age of 19, I was fortunate to be at ground zero of the Certified Farmers’ Market movement in California, and to be involved in starting the earliest community-based farmers’ markets in the United States. Back in the late ’70s, it was a radical idea that farmers could legally sell their produce directly to consumers in low-income neighborhoods and food deserts. Today, the idea is commonplace.

The movement to change the food system is growing stronger every day, and millions of Americans are now demanding a food system that conveys wellness instead of disease, and delivers food that is good for us, good for the people who produce it, and good for the environment. Today there are more than 8,000 farmers’ markets in the United States and the food system is growing stronger every day, providing greater access to sustainably produced, locally grown food.

Institute of Responsible Nutrition logo

Institute of Responsible Nutrition logo

I very much appreciate the efforts of FamilyFarmed and Good Food on Every Table. Both are vital contributors to promoting better health and a cleaner environment through increased availability of and access to fresher and tastier food, grown locally and responsibly. As one of the founders of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition, I am clearer now, more than ever, that the answer to what ails our food system is exactly what FamilyFarmed is promoting and accelerating.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend the Good Food Festival & Conference that FamilyFarmed presented in Chicago March 19-21. It was thrilling to hear the inspirational stories of the entrepreneurs who are “hacking the food system” and driving the movement in many creative ways, from farm to market to table.

One of the key strategies of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition is to “find the good and praise it.”  We all benefit from hearing about the success stories and new ventures, both non-profit and for-profit, that are scalable and replicable models for delivering really Good Food that makes a difference in the health and well-being of farmers, consumers, and their communities.

Irv and Shelly of Irv and Shelly's Fresh Picks

Alderson, while attending FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival & Conference, met exhibitors Irv Cernauskas and Shelly Herman, the married couple who own Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks. Their suburban Chicago company delivers organic food, mostly produced by regional farmers, to subscribers.

When it comes to food system change, we don’t need to recreate the wheel, we just need to become a part of it. Increasing numbers of us are rejecting the idea of being cogs in an industrialized machine that pumps out processed food, and instead are embracing the idea of being spokes in the wheel of life that connects Good Food and good people, restoring meaningful and rewarding connections with our communities, our soil, and our farmers.

After several decades in this work, I believe we are finally reaching a tipping point. I’m proud to be joining with FamilyFarmed and Good Food on Every Table to help provide the connections, conjunctions, and radically Good Food we need to transform our food system.

Photos and logo provided by author.

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