The following is a guest post with Kristy Athens, Outreach Specialist with Northeast Oregon Economic Development District, in response to understanding the evolution of the “local” and “artisan” food & farm movement.

I understand this movement as a reaction to industrial agriculture, and modernity in general. Most of the twentieth century was spent honing efficiencies in agriculture: mechanization and chemical inputs made it possible to consolidate farms and increase yields. Technologies such as refrigeration, train and truck transport, and processing and packaging made it possible to move food and beverage products over greater distances, in greater quantities, with longer shelf-lives. All of this, plus externalizing costs such as global labor and land, made food the least expensive (in the United States) and most plentiful it’s ever been.

Mid-century, this was considered a great triumph of the modern age. However, what began to slip away are the things the locavore movement is now attempting to re-capture: handcrafting; knowing your farmer (or being one yourself); treating livestock humanely; feeling a sense of place every time you consume something. Whether valorization of this terroir, as it were, can replace efficiency and economies of scale remains to be seen. But at the very least, the locavore movement gives consumers who can afford it a way to celebrate the ancient human practices of nurturing animals and plants, and then making consumables from them with care and craft. And it gives consumers a way to directly support the people doing it.

Image source: gonorthwest.com


 

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Founded in 1985, NEOEDD’s mission is to provide resources and facilitate quality decision making for the benefit of entrepreneurs, businesses and communities in Northeast Oregon.

 


 

 

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