In recent years all components of Virginia’s local food system have seen considerable advances: training new farmers, creating new urban farms and community gardens, developing new infrastructure for processing and distribution, bringing fresh food into our schools, increasing affordable access to fresh food, and even evaluating local and state policies to remove barriers. These trends reflect increasing interest in growing and buying locally produced food, as well as a desire to adjust the state’s economic and public policy framework to make it easier for Virginians to buy and sell food with their neighbors. The author, Tanya Denckla Cobb, Associate Director of U.Va.’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation, is an expert on the local food movement and has recently published Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grass Roots Movement is Changing What We Eat.
In her article she tries to gauge and document how widespread and deeply rooted these trends are in Virginia and to examine the obstacles to continued growth of the movement. She begins with a look at some of the motivations for the movement, its expected benefits, and the complex ways it fits into the social fabric and affects community life. In addition to questions of community health and personal health related to food, she considers the issue of nutritious food as a basic human right. Next, Denckla Cobb reviews the work of the Virginia Food Sustainability Council and its recommendations for food policies. She concludes with a preview of the second Virginia Food Security Summit, scheduled for December 5-6, 2011 in Charlottesville. The article, which is well documented, contains a wealth of examples of ongoing programs and references to people involved.