Had this pandemic not shaken the US food system to the core, I would have spent the next few years happily chugging along in my own lane - supporting the food recovery organizations of Silicon Valley and working on next steps for our area around new laws for food recovery. Now it's impossible to ignore how interconnected we all are as humans, how interconnected all our work lives are, and how changes in one corner of the food system ripple out to affect the rest of us.
I'll let food writer Michael Pollan more eloquently describe how the US food system has changed, and how we are one of the most vulnerable countries on the planet. I do think this vulnerability makes us ripe for change, and finally poised to see the necessity of localizing our food system, and developing local relationships.
As for my small piece of the puzzle, I'm thinking more and more about how the entire food system is connected, and really can be simple - it starts in the soil, and ends on my plate. At work, for our Food Recovery Council, the food that we recover will pop up on farms, with distributors, or at the end of the chain with restaurants and groceries. We need to be flexible and quick to react to changes. At home, I feel more connected to the food system than I have in years. At the beginning of the shelter-in-place order, we picked up things for elderly neighbors and shared stories about where to find different staples. We put in a garden. Our Italian neighbor spent an entire day on some of the best tomato sauce I have ever had. The kids are learning to cook.
In the future I think these connections with our neighbors, and with our neighbor organizations in our working lives, will strengthen our resiliency in the face of an unknown future. Our food system will be stronger, more community-focused, and more transparent. And lucky for us, I think it will taste better, too!
About the Author
Robin Martin is the executive director of Joint Venture's Silicon Valley Food Recovery Initiative. You can learn more about Robin on her bio page.