A generation ago a group of countercultural organic farmers kicked off a movement that has evolved into a $31.5 billion dollar industry. Now, as those back-to-the-landers from the '60s and '70s retire, they are asking what comes next.
I’m going to spend some time asking the same question. For my next deep dive (after looking at GMOs), I’m going to be trying to identify the next concrete steps that can be made toward the regional food systems of our dreams. Part of the problem, of course, is that we all dream of something slightly different. But there are some broad goals that we can probably all agree on:
Making farms more sustainable, beautiful, and biodiverse; allowing farmers and food workers to earn a decent middle-class income (currently, many of the former and most of the latter do not); connecting eaters to agriculture; and providing more healthy and delicious food.
Already there’s a hearty new generation of people who want to produce food this way, and an ever-growing base of people who want to buy and eat it. But now what? What are the barriers as we make our way down this road? Do we need different middlemen in the market? Different infrastructure? Different laws? Different technologies?
I’ll be talking with successful farmers and food producers to try and understand the conditions that have allowed them to succeed, and to suss out the snags that are still holding them back.