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Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All    by Oran B. Hesterman order for
Fair Food
by Oran B. Hesterman
Order:  USA  Can
PublicAffairs, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

In Fair Food: Growing A Healthy, Sustainable Food System For All, Oran Hesterman, the founder of the Fair Food Network, doesn't just write about our broken food system; he lays out a vision for what a future food system could look like. That plan incorporates principles of diversity, ecological integrity and economic viability for everyone involved.

Usually the issues that this book raises are addressed by suggesting that if one purchases local, organic food, the situation can be remedied. This book goes beyond that simplistic solution to the problem.

Hesterman says that he thinks of this book 'as a 'tool book,' one that provides people with the instruments they need to engage actively in redesigning our food system so that the food it produces is healthy for our families and kids, healthy for our environment, and healthy for our community'.

The goal here is to move beyond your own kitchen and make changes in school and corporation cafeterias. A healthy, sustainable, redesigned food system needs to have balance. This means reconfiguring the present system where purportedly 98% of our food moves through global channels and only 2% through local and regional ones.

In Part I of this groundbreaking book Hesterman looks at the current food system and explains how and why it evolved as it did. Like a number of other authors, he also delves into the problems of this system and why he feels it no longer serves us well. Defining the problem and explaining how we got here is nothing new, although you may come across some information you haven't seen before.

For example, did you know that in 2008 over half of all U.S. harvested cropland grew only corn and soybeans? That total will vary from year to year, but it is an eye opener.

Next, the author describes four key principles a redesigned food system should embody and offers examples of how various individuals and organizations have started to integrate these ideas into their enterprises. In doing this they have provided new models for producers and consumers as well as businesses and communities.

Finally, in the last part of Fair Food, the reader will discover a practical guide to how he or she can participate in collective action to precipitate big changes in the food system. Hesterman offers questions to ask when one purchases produce, fruit and other items at farmers' markets.

There are also ideas listed for how to launch a 'buy-fresh/buy-local campaign' in one's area and how to form a buyer's club that purchases food directly from farmers and fishermen.

Moving from the local to the state and national levels, advice is also provided about the legislation needed to support local, state and federal fair food programs.

From getting more ag people to produce for local and regional markets, to returning to an integration of crops and livestock on farms, and creating more ways for consumers to deal directly with the farmer, the ideas set forth in Fair Food are timely and achievable if enough people are willing to support the approach this book defines.

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