future work local foodDan Smolen believes future work in local food benefits people and the economy.

We have a serious food problem. And, according to the International Monetary Fund, the price of food has skyrocketed:

“From their trough in April 2020, international food (producer) prices have increased by 47.2 percent attaining their highest (real) levels on May 2021 since 2014 (highest level ever in current dollar terms). Between May 2020 and May 2021, soybean and corn prices increased by more than 86 and 111 percent, respectively.”

Food price inflation is rampant. And, in the United States, water scarcity in the western United States has decimated agriculture and spiked consumer prices. Places like California’s Central Valley drive our massive food pipeline. And the produce that you buy likely travelled thousands of miles to get to you, now at much greater cost.

Our agricultural model scaled a food pipeline driven on abundant water supplies, millions of acres of rich farmland, a huge supply chain, and cheap labor. The pandemic and climate change destroyed that model.

To feed the nation and the world, we must drive a new economic model that supports future work in local food. And jobs in local food will support millions of people in need and their communities.

  • Food that travels long distances to grocers loses nutritional value. Instead, growing local food ensures that consumers are better fed. And that leads to better health outcomes, especially in so-called food deserts.
  • Agribusiness draws billions of gallons of water from sources before consumers get their supply. However, parts of California are into their 21st year of extreme water scarcity. By contrast, local food producers use water more conservatively. And a local food system enables more people in need to access clean water, even when water supplies are low.
  • Local food production can provide good jobs to people entering the work force. It also doesn’t require advanced degrees to do. And, work skills needed are often easy to learn and adopt.
  • Last, local food supports people in your community. So, if your city, town, or county has a farmer’s market, then please shop there first before buying your protein and produce at a local supermarket.

With more communities adopting a localism model in which governing power resides mostly within mayoralties and governing boards, future work in local food can provide a stable economic channel that drives tax revenue and job growth where people live. Win/win!

And when that happens, our best days lie ahead.

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Image credits: Organic farming in Hector, New York, Steven Smolen; Podcast button, J. Brandt Studio for The Dan Smolen Experience.