Audio Slide Show: From Farm to Table from Orion Magazine on Vimeo.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we thought it would be apt to talk about the state of food in America. Not the obesity epidemic, or GMO’s (though those are related), but the infrastructure of regulation and food distribution that binds us to our unsustainable way of eating. The current issue of Orion Magazine tackles America’s ageing infrastructure, not just from the angle of repairing and reinvesting in the Post WWII network of freeways and power grids (though clearly that’s needed), but also by reimagining what our infrastructure should look like in the future. Maybe it’s not about shopping either big box or local farmers market, but taking a more regional approach that allows farmers to run viable businesses and meets American eaters where they are.

Rowan Jacobsen’s article about the rise of a Vermont food hub goes behind the scenes of a thriving regional food production and distribution center that allows farmers and artisans to finish their products in USDA-approved facilities (that are prohibitively expensive for most farmers to build on their own) and connects them with the refrigerator trucks, loading docks and equipment that it takes to get their products to a wider market. It’s not the lone yeoman farmer driving his basket of carrots to the farmers market anymore. What’s going on now is less precious, but much more exciting. It’s about using what’s in place (from smartphones that control curing temperatures to connecting producers to a truck that will haul their stuff) to subvert the industrial food system, and start to build a new one.

Let’s give thanks to America’s farmers this year. Whether near or far, they are the ones that bring us all the fixins!

From Farm to Table: Building local infrastructure to support local food
By Rowan Jacobsen
Orion Magazine, November/December 2013

And here’s a video about a project by 4th generation Arizona farmer and artist Matt Moore, who has created the Digital Farm Collective, a web-based video library that hopes to document the lifecycle of every cultivated plant. His idea is that if people are able to see how plants grow, it will change their relationship to the food they eat. Just watch. It’s beautiful to watch these babies grow.

Introduction to the Digital Farm Collective from Matthew Moore on Vimeo.