Make Way For the Foodies

By Keith Kloor | February 17, 2011 10:17 am

Is the stale and stagnant environmental movement on the cusp of being transformed by foodies? That’s what Bryan Walsh chews over in this story for Time magazine:

Even as traditional environmentalism struggles, another movement is rising in its place, aligning consumers, producers, the media and even politicians. It’s the food movement, and if it continues to grow it may be able to create just the sort of political and social transformation that environmentalists have failed to achieve in recent years.

Walsh takes stock of the “thousands of community-supported agriculture programs around the country,” the “more than 6,000 farmers’ markets,” and the mainstreaming of the organic food craze, among other indicators. In sum, it’s a grassroots, decentralized movement on the upswing, albeit one with obvious hurdles ahead, Walsh says:

The challenge for the food movement will come as it matures and begins to take on established political interests. Even with all the growth and all the glossy magazine covers, sustainable food still makes up only a tiny portion of the overall American food system. Perhaps 1% of total U.S. cropland is farmed organically, and organic food and beverages still command less than 4% of the national market, even after years of growth.

Those figures make me wonder if the food movement will amount to anything more than a passing trend that plateaus out with a loyal core demographic–sort of like the one that’s sustained environmentalism the last few decades. One bellwether to watch is Laurie David, the Hollywood environmentalist and co-producer of An Inconvenient Truth, who seems to have moved on from global warming activist to “slow food” champion. If she adopts a new cause in a few years, that might be a sure sign that the food movement is past its prime.

  • Gaythia

    Move towards real content here.
    “sustainable food still makes up only a tiny portion of the overall American food system”
    Forget how glossies like Time magazine chose to define this.
    To the extent that the American food system really is unsustainable, we’ve got us a problem.
    Take it from there.

  • Menth

    Here’s an interesting essay by Mary Eberstadt comparing how the left moralizes food while the right moralizes sex.
    Â
    http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/5542

  • On your own logic

    One bellwether to watch is Laurie David, the Hollywood environmentalist and co-producer of An Inconvenient Truth, who seems to have moved on from global warming activist to “whatever idiocy she now embraces”. If she adopts a new cause … , that might be a sure sign that “global warming” is past its prime.

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About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, a senior editor at Cosmos magazine, and adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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