People like you who are interested in strengthening the resilience of our region
Of course, every movement involves a degree of posturing, and food has certainly become a fad. The 1960s' "back to the land" movement extolled Thoreauvian meditation. Today's back-to-the-landers are more practical, and less starry-eyed. They use tractors and harvesters, not just shovels and hoes. Even the name -- the Youth Food Movement -- reflects their pragmatism, embracing not only the new generation of farmers, but also high school and college students. If this is a generation unsure of its place in a world that no longer feels safe, in the soil they discover a literal grounding.
There is something deeply appealing, if old-fashioned, about relying on land for security. (I still remember my parents' tattered copy of the small-farm handbook "Five Acres and Independence" in our suburban home.) Yet investing one's savings in land is a very risky thing to do. Neither income nor yield can be assured. But the farmers, community activists and other participants in the Youth Food Movement believe that the nation can be saved by a commitment to the land. Row by row they will restore the soil and grow wholesome food to make people healthy again. For some, the social justice component is high; for others, it is a matter of individual or public health. For all, it represents a new American dream.
In the '60s, you were either with us or against us; there was no middle ground. Today's youth movement welcomes all types: brainy idealists, timid eaters, outraged activists. All are welcome; it is food that creates the community. Thus sit-ins are replaced by communal eat-ins, protest by positive action. If the Peace Corps was once the young idealist's organization of choice, now that role may be filled by the Food Corps, a fledgling organization that hopes to send young people out into the fields and school cafeterias. College campuses nationwide are organizing their own Slow Food chapters; students at the University of California at Berkeley, ever ahead of the pack, have gone a step further to create CoFed, the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive, intended to "electrify" college campuses around issues of food. The endorsements on CoFed's website reveal a generation that has absorbed the lessons of self-esteem and individual agency. As one student writes, "I feel so empowered, so loved, so much a part of something and I am so motivated within this group to finally bring about change -- something I have wanted to do for I couldn't tell you how long. CoFed is the start of the food REVOLUTION! We are the food revolution!"
What does it mean when college kids would rather spend spring break WWOOFing in Europe than partying in Fort Lauderdale? Will the Youth Food Movement last? If so, how will it develop? Will its very popularity institutionalize (and therefore destroy) it? This is a wondrous cultural moment, in which everything is open-ended, utopian and potentially all-inclusive. Sowing, reaping, nourishing -- the whole project is laden with metaphors that mask the hard physical labor involved. Yet even if the Youth Food Movement's grand visions aren't fully realized, there are worse places to look for enlightenment than the farm. Soil is surely healthier than drugs. And in the end, it might just prove more revelatory.
Complete story found on Zester Daily
By Darra Goldstein | Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Darra Goldstein is the Francis Christopher Oakley Third Century Professor of Russian at Williams College, and the founding editor of Gastronomica: the Journal of Food and Culture. She is the author of four cookbooks -- "A Taste of Russia," "The Georgian Feast," "The Winter Vegetarian" and "Baking Boot Camp at the CIA" -- and has organized several exhibitions, including "Feeding Desire: Design and the Tools of the Table, 1500-2005," at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.
Photos, from top:
Darra Goldstein. Credit: Caleb Kenna
Young farmers Fiona Harrar and Seth Hanauer of Hidden Pasture Farm in Vermont. Credit: Carl Villanueva
Article by Darra Goldstein