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Last Friday, Tanya Denckla Cobb, UVa Food Systems Professor and author of “Reclaiming our Food: How The Grassroots Food Movement is Changing the Way We Eat.”, gave an energetic and hopeful talk in the greenhouse at Greensgrow Farm, which is profiled in her book along with other successful movers and shakers in the local food movement.
The book is a qualitative and refreshing look at the projects that have been successful and I am sure its just the tip of the iceberg. Tanya was such a wonderful speaker because she is passionate about the local food movement and brings a spirit of joy and hope because she believes that one day, just like the fight for woman’s rights in this country, we will live in a transformed world with a better food system that we might, like woman’s suffrage, accept and exist in the changed world and maybe even take it for granted. She was hopeful and ended her talk with a quote from Bill Clinton, saying, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America.”
She summarized her research into three reasons why this movement is an absolute requirement. Environment. Public Health. And Community Spirit.
She noted that 4.7 billion dollars has been spent to discover 40,000 to clean our waterways from the effects of the Green Revolution. And this money was just for the plans! In 2008, 147 billion dollars was been spent to cover the medical costs from obesity in America. She never hesitated to state that there is a lot going wrong, but she was here to report that there is good news.
Cobb then told some amazing success stories from farms and organizations across the US. Stories like, Joel Salatin, celebrity farmer in VA, who created six inches of top soil on his farm through the use of the sustainable practices of rotational grazing and layering animal systems on the farm, a practice that also increases the farm’s profitability. He healed the land without the use of a single grass seed or fertilizers. She also told the story of people using phytoremediation to “scrub the soil” with bioaccumulators in Boston. Arsenic had leeched our of donated railroad ties used in a community garden, but these researchers and farmers found an affordable way to clean the soil.
She continued by pointing out that in the last five years, Farm to School programs have sprung up in all 50 states. Cobb told the story of Janus Youth in Portland, OR who are transforming the economic and social health their communities serving 6000 high risk youth and runaways who now manage a certified organic farm that is integrated into their program.
She has many more success stories that bring so much color to this movement in her book, including our very own Greensgrow.
The Green Revolution was measured by efficiency of yield per acre, but she is calling for a pride for the efficiency of the whole system including the hidden costs of our environment, health and community.