By Tifinie Capehart, Chair of the Nashville Food Policy Council
I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to enjoy the food that I cook with others. Food has always been the cornerstone of my life, as some of my fondest memories are of times gathered around food: Thanksgiving with family, my wedding reception, crawfish boils in my native New Orleans, and celebrating with college roommates over a bucket of KFC after moving into upperclassmen housing (no judgment please). In the grand scheme of things, I’m considered a consumer in the food system. And I’m okay with that. Consumers are needed in the food system. Who would farmers grow food for and who would chefs get to marvel at their artistic creations without consumers like me? To all my consumers: please raise your forks!
As a consumer, I gladly give props to all parts of the local Food System: the growers, the warehouses, distributors, and the marketers and retailers, for without them our system would not be complete. As Chair of the Nashville Food Policy Council, it’s my job to bring together individuals that represent every component of the local food system. We work to ensure that food is considered in transportation, economic, local land use and social policy decisions. Each decision, with the input and expertise of these dedicated individuals, moves us one step closer to a more accessible, sustainable food system.
Just as food is the cornerstone of our individual lives, access to healthy and affordable food is important because it’s the cornerstone of our community. Local restaurants revitalize neighborhoods, summer feeding programs provide our youth with healthy meals, food kitchens help feed our homeless, and farmers’ markets increase social interaction between neighbors. Without food, our communities would be void of culture, flavor, and richness.
Perhaps that’s why food is getting so much attention in 2013. For the last three years on October 24, communities across the U.S. have celebrated healthy, affordable, sustainably produced food with a unifying celebration called Food Day. Food Day is a movement of grassroots food advocates who fight for ‘shorter lines in the fast-food drive through and bigger crowds at the farmers’ markets’. Through small and large nationwide events, Food Day promotes access to ‘real food’ and awareness of issues that affect our local food systems. Nashville’s Food Day has many events to take part in. To find a Nashville Food Day event or to register your own, visit http://www.foodday.org.
As Chair of the Nashville Food Policy Council, I want you to know that we are currently working hard for folks like you who eat, distribute, or grow food in Nashville and who like to read our stuff! Currently, we are working in partnership with the Metropolitan Nashville Health Department on a Food System Assessment to better understand where our food system is rocking it, and where it needs improvement. We also weigh in on local policy issues concerning the food system; most notably, the Chicken Bill which allows urban chickens to be kept on personal property. We’ve got a long way to go, but I’m super proud of the foundation that is being set.
So before you sit down to eat this Thursday October 24th, consider doing something special to commemorate Food Day. Try a new local restaurant, throw a new vegetable in your cart, bring a meal to a family in need, or donate to your local food bank… share this blog post! And if you’re a humble consumer like me, be proud of your role – our food system needs us! So raise your fork, knife, spoon, and in some cases your hands, and let’s eat!