Can we have it all? The VP says - Yes!
Serving up a Sustainable Food System for All of California
Health, prosperity, meaningful jobs, fresh and local foods, strong local and export economies, food that is both delicious and affordable, and a healthy environment - California can have it all.
The Vivid Picture project provides a glimpse at a future that meets economic, social and environmental needs by fostering ongoing opportunity. It is a picture that seeks to show that a sustainable food system has far more prospects than the "business-as-usual" conventional food system. The Vivid Picture Team believes that the time is ripe for change; the table can be set for a feast that ensures health, economic success and environmental well-being. Working together, the citizens of our state can create a new food system that will lift the fortunes of the food and farming industry. California's future food system will create pride of place, offer hope of meaningful opportunities for workers in the industry, and lead a worldwide demand for health and quality in everyday living.
The Vivid Picture offers all Californians the chance to make this vision a reality. The project is beginning to design policy and market driven strategies that will harness current cultural and business forces to create powerful new opportunities for the entire state. Built with the intent to mainstream sustainability, the project's frameworks are meant to be bold, pragmatic and appealing to a nontraditional alliance of change makers.
The following vision was distilled by through a series of interviews and written statements by 40 leaders around the State. The vision continues to be refined. The following is an abstract of the ideas that are being considered for the Vivid Picture.
A sustainable food system will be built upon a new social contract - a shared responsibility - between eaters, who are mostly found in urban areas, and food producers, who are mostly found in rural and coastal communities. This partnership will be committed to pursuing principles of sustainability.
In these regional food economies, eaters have a food culture that works to preserve rural communities and agricultural lands. All eaters will know at least one farm or farmer, and will be willing to pay the price (either at the cash register or through the tax system) for food that is fresh, nutritious, safe, delicious, region defining, locally grown, humanely managed, environmentally protective and produced by workers that are fairly compensated. Food producers will meet the demand for fresh, healthy and regionally defined foods. Growers and ranchers will have new relevancy to urban communities by providing nontraditional services including: watershed management, food security in the case of a national emergency, on-farm energy production, composting of urban wastes, mitigation, wildlife habitat management, recreational tourism, and a clean drinking water supply.
Fresh and freshly prepared products, particularly those containing fruits and vegetables, will likely continue to be recommended as the best path toward improved health by the USDA, cancer prevention programs and diet books. In response, school lunches, restaurants, and grocery stores will offer a higher percentage of fresh, perishable items than ever before. Demand for health and freshness will primarily be met by local producers and delivered by regional distribution systems.
While large retailers and wholesalers will still play a part in the food industry, marketplace movement toward decentralized, local purchasing of fresh and perishable items will characterize the system. Food processors, distributors, restaurants and markets will bolster the new partnership between eaters and producers. Workers will be seen as partners in food and farming operations, serving as key problem solvers and viewed as future leaders and equity holders.
California will establish itself as the premier provider of organic and biologically sound food and farm products. By setting top level growing standards, the state will serve multiple domestic and world markets.
A Bold Agenda for Change
The following change strategies are opportunity-based. They marry goals for profitability, job creation and financial health with social and environmental objectives. These ideas strive to be simultaneously inclusive and far-reaching. Our goal is to create new networks and alliances that will empower all Californians to create real change. These are draft ideas that will continue to grow. They will be sent out for review by all of the Vivid Picture partners and advisors. All feedback on these ideas can be sent directly to Eileen Brady, the Vivid Picture Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The California Urban/Rural Partnership Act of 2007
The California Star Program
GET FRESH! A campaign for health and local agriculture
Passing the milk test, California takes the challenge
Sustainable Food Business Incubator: from niche to mainstream
Reported by Ali Edwards, Straus Communications