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Help us close the gap between rural food production and urban food consumption to create more sustainable, happy and healthy communities. OpenIDEO has partnered with the Queensland Government in Australia and the IDEAS Festival 2011 to create a closer connection between local food production and consumption that can make a dramatic impact on sustainability efforts.

Food, glorious food: a fundamental need yet how often do we take it for granted? We’ve come to expect the convenience of plucking the very best in fresh produce from our supermarket shelves or local markets all year round – but at what cost to our farmers, our environment and future generations?

The Challenge asks us to consider ways to improve and enhance the relationships and interactions between producers and consumers, rural and urban communities, growers and retailers, retailers and consumers. We'd like the community to consider issues such as energy use , transportation , biodiversity , food security , nutrition , obesity , the health of rural economies and the strength of inter-generational and intercultural knowledge sharing .

At the heart of this challenge lie issues of global sustainability and local happiness to improve life for rural and urban communities. We hope to cast a wide net for inspirations and concepts that will address the challenge in a holistic way. Think about new services, campaigns, policies, products, systems that could address these issues.

The concepts that we c reate together through this process will be as good or as bad as the community that gets involved.  Please do share what we’re up to in your social networks and if you're on Twitter you can use our hashtag #oi_localfood


Community & Social Media Manager:

 Meena Kadri

Do you want to get involved in this challenge?

We follow a process with phases. Currently we are in the Realisation phase. You can participate by adding stories on the impact of this challenge.
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Photo of Miguel Dutor Marrodan

In my opinion the problem starts in the diet that all most of us follow, based on the fast food and processed food.
The quality of the fresh food has decreased a lot since the past years. For example, when i go to the supermarket to buy fresh vegetables i see tomatoes perfectly round, like basketball balls. This is no natural...

So, in my opinion we have to increase the need to go to the country areas to taste the real food, to feel the flavors, the natural ones.
You can create weekend trips to the countryside, that way the people will get in touch with these type of aliments and they will get into in.
This way these aliments will go into their daily routine.

Photo of Congmin Liang

Food is the thing that we need for every single day, which could provide the energy for our daily life. To get the healthy and fresh food for us is very important. And the people who provide the healthy and fresh food are also a significant part of our lives. The way to improve and enhance the relationships and interactions between producers and consumers, rural and urban communities, growers and retailers, retailers and consumers are really necessary. I hope I could get more idea of what we should do about it. And yes, some people already provide some ideas of what they think in their post, and I will continue to looking forward what other people say about this challenge.

Photo of Fei Xin

I agree with your point! "To get the healthy and fresh food for us is very important. " So we should learn how to choose healthy food in a daily life, and encourage people to have a healthy eating habits.

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DeletedUser

The rural area has been offering urban cities with fresh vegetable and meet since there are differences between rural and urban areas. And this also the form that used in some other fields that rural products, urban consumes.
Food is the thing that related with our health, our everyday life closely. The way to improve and enhance the relationship and interactions between products and consumers, rural and urban communities, growers and retailers, retailers and consumers are really important. I think we surely should focus on that.

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DeletedUser

A very interesting and urgent topic, which unfortunately many people still ignore or simply are not aware of.

In my opinion, eating habits very much depend on the environment we have grown up – so mainly our family.
At young age, our main role-models are our parents. Further there is school, which is shaping our general knowledge about “anything, which is important in our lives” but how much do they teach us about sustainability and nutrition? It is being said that the majority of our norms and values are being shaped until the age of 12 years. But how much did we really learn about sustainability, consumption and the importance of local businesses before we turned 12? Nowadays we may say that not only children learn form their parents, but also vice versa.

A suggestion to this challenge is a focused education in schools about sustainable and conscious consumption of food. For instance children shall have classes/projects in primary school to learn how to “manage” their own crops - theoretical but also practical. They shall learn all processes from sowing to harvesting and realize the effort it takes to grow a simple super market product such as a tomato. By involving parents into these projects to support their children, a wider target can be involved. The message shall be to teach children at young age about food and consumption but also involve their families about the importance of our local famers who are being suppressed by the mass industry, especially the prices.

Recently I have started to deal with this topic myself. As a hobby I have started to grow my own veggies on my balcony. I have never imagined it to be so much work but I truly taste the difference and changed my attitude towards mass production. I realized how much effort it takes, can imagine the fixed costs farmers have therefore I try to buy most products from local farmers.

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DeletedUser

Love your ideas.

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DeletedUser

It seems to me that food and farming are entering the period of renaissance. People are eating healthier, looking for alternatives to big agriculture, and are also eating locally. This in turn has created a market place for several models proved to work. I will name four, US based models that have been continually growing year over year and could easily be replicated in most regions in Australia.

The food they get at school, which provides 35% of most schoolchildren's calories, is not nutritious enough and tastes lousy, to boot. This is a problem. Kids won't eat healthy food. It's too expensive. However, there is a company that successfully tackled that problem, a US company called Revolution Foodshttp://www.revfoods.com/. They wholesome ingredients and cook meals from scratch in regional commissaries. The challenge of this model is to bring costs down enough or take on school bureaucracies. One answer to capping costs is Revolution Foods' partnerships with food suppliers. The company has cut deals with purveyors such as grocer Whole Foods Market, dairy Clover Stornetta Farms and, Uptown Bakery in Hyattsville and sauce and soup maker Chesapeake Gardens in Glen Burnie, Md. To support their mission, partner companies offer a discount of 5% to 8% off typical wholesale prices. Revolution Foods also has negotiated extended payment terms with most vendors, a boon when working with cash-strapped schools. The Company’s model proves that it is possible to have a connection between nutrition and education. The conventional wisdom says that if you buy packaged goods, you save money but by putting the work in and buying fresh broccoli, rather than chopped and bagged, you can also save money. The key question was how to meet that demand at a price the schools could afford.

It is about providing the right tools to the consumer. Whole Foods Market partnered with school lunch crusader Ann Cooper to launch a Web site called the Lunch Box (http://www.thelunchbox.org) that offers menus, recipes and technical tools for budget planning to help schools wean themselves from packaged and processed foods.
Consumers increasingly want locally grown produce; but, the fact is, the average fruit and vegetable travels more than 1,000 miles before it reaches a grocery store. What if you could have access to locally grown produce year round and cut the cost of shipping these products to zero? New York Company, Bright Farms http://brightfarms.com/, builds greenhouses on top of grocery stores and warehouses. So if the cucumber section is running low, just run upstairs and you're good. The system is designed to save the grocer money - if the veggies are on your roof, shipping costs go down, and the food is fresher, with a longer shelf life, meaning storage costs go down too.
By cutting out the wholesale middlemen, stripping away shipping costs and maintaining low energy bills with highly efficient greenhouses, BrightFarms competes with industrial farm prices. The produce is fresher and tastier than produce shipped long distances and will help protect supermarkets from extreme fluctuations in global markets. The reality is that, every time oil prices go up or down, so do food prices. Such facilities are widespread in Netherlands. However, BrightFarms’ big innovation is its business model. BrightFarms will pay the money needed to install and operate a greenhouse on the site of any grocer that signs a contract to buy vegetables from BrightFarms for 10 years. The Company uses that contract to secure financing to build the greenhouse.

Another proven model in the US is Community Supported Agriculture or “subscription farming”. It gives farmer cash flow to finance his operation while the crop is still growing. It also provides CSA members or “shareholders” a way to reconnect to the land, their food and the people who grow it by sharing both the bounty and the risk of farming. This model supports smaller farms. The majority of farms in the US as an example, are small farms. More than 60% of all farms in the US have yearly sales of less than $10K a year. These are the farms that require another revenue source and CSA models such as Farm Fresh http://www.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php to you is a model that delivers straight to customer doors. The Company contracts fresh produce from 4 different farms and continually informs the consumer about the origin of the produce. It also organizes tours of the farms and various other events. The key component of their model is the way the Company contracts farmers, per acreage and before the planting season. It addition, Farm Fresh to You provides marketing, packaging and logistics which all serves as an access to the market for the farmers who couldn’t previously afford that.

There is plenty of entrepreneurship wealth out there. We only need to direct it and provide the right set of sustainable parameters.

Photo of Congmin Liang

The examples are awesome! It was really helpful!

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DeletedUser

I want to give a big "Applaud" to OpenIDEO after read this sharing, the focus of internet users is the things happened around life. Lucky us that we have a free communication platform that helps us to concerns we are most concerned.

Photo of Edmund Ng

I think the biggest hurdle right now is genetically modified food. Monsanto is such a giant that the small food producers are having a hard time coping with their onslaught.

One way we could make sure local food producers can compete is to have a local farm produce market place. An online portal where Americans across the country could visit to place the orders.

The online local produce portal will also act as a stockist of the food to ease the logistical headaches of food producers having to worry about shipping small quantities country wide. All they need to do is to deal directly with the portal operators. That way they could just focus on farming.


Edmund Ng
http://www.CeoConnectz.com

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DeletedUser

I feel we learn our eating habits @ home. Recently I joined a family of healthy minded people who ARE making positive changes for our World. I TRUELY believe THIS could be the answer to Our Healthcare problem. Preventive Healthcare. In turn teaching our kids how to grow the freshest tasting,smelling,looking produce....it's a know fact children who take part in growing their food have healthier eating habits. Please...help me get this message to the Whitehouse....a Tower Garden for every home...Tower Gardens in our Schools....Nursing Homes...Prisons. Tha carbon footprint will be gone. Our World will be a happy healthier place. Live~Life! https://epic.towergarden.com The Future is NOW!

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DeletedUser

Sure you realise geospatial technologies (GIS) will help you scale up and sustain your activity. It's also useful for managing developments and marketing, however you'll need spatial thinking skills to analyse and interpret the information you gather. Education for the use of geo-media is critical http://www.digital-earth.eu

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DeletedUser

This reminds me of something I would love to see happen in Los Angeles- Teach teen and pre-teen children about farming, and encourage them to grow produce at home. There could be a cooperative that enables them to sell their produce at farmers markets near their homes.

Thus the children value fresh produce (the "fruits" of their labor), make money, and save the family money. This could fill the vacuum left by the South Central Farm being sold to a developer. The majority of the poor neighborhoods here consist of single-family rented homes. People could easily build box gardens in their yards.

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DeletedUser

The Virtual Water project is a cool data visualization project whose goal is to bring awareness to the amount of water that is consumed in the production of many common foods. I thought it was a really create and simple way to show that connection between food production and consumption. They produced a poster as well as an iPhone app where you can adjust the food portions to see how much water it took to produce it. http://virtualwater.eu/

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DeletedUser

Here is the app that can do what you mentioned http://www.goodguide.com/

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DeletedUser

Growers relationship with food consumption, have to be a creative and innovative process not only in a sexy way to promote products, but also to print a sense of culture and tradition of the region. Giving a tip, a short story or a urban legend about the product you sell, make it real for a taste, an experience you´ll like to share and live again!!

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DeletedUser

We eat and usually not think of the source of what we have in our cooking pan. It important to think about who are doing the hard work, the poor farmers all over the world. This challenge is a very high one

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DeletedUser

My idea is to promote farmer operated sale centre in cities that will minimize the gap between farmers and consumers and farmers will get better price of their produce and consumer will get products at lower rates.
We have taken such initiative in India and developed a sale centre for the farmers that is operated by farmer representative. The centre is doing wonderful since past 6 years.

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DeletedUser

How might we better connect food production and consumption?

Connecting food production with consumption might depends on the particular situation and location but on the case of sub saharan African countries where unemployment and poverty level are high and the food price is very elevated. To compensate the effort engaged by the farmer in the production connecting food production to consumption should consist on the empowerment of the farmer. The empowerment of the farmer could allow him or her having control over both the production and the supply of the goods he or she produces. Before any suggestion let's go over a brief analysis of the production and the consumption of agricultural goods.

According to economists, in a competitive market the price a good must be equal to the marginal cost of production. The factors involved in agricultural good production include labor, capital and research. With recent environmental issues, one should also account for the environmental reparation costs. Regarding the consumption it is usually associated to the price of the good. The quantity produced often determines the price. But the important point here is that the market prices are distorted by factors such as subsidies from the government and the private enterprises, advertisement, and distortion introduced by the middle men.

In most African countries there is food security policy, where the government creates institutions to make stock of agricultural products at the harvesting time when the good is abundant in the market. The farmer is worse off because the release of the products at the market at a lower price (lower than that of the farmer) when the good become scarce put the farmer in a worse of condition. As stated above, the advertising is also a problem, in the current context the advertisement is not a big issue, but the middle man usually called the speculator has created serious distortion of the agricultural gods' price. In the production side, not accounting for the environmental reparation following the farming of a site has led to discrepancy on the real price of the good in the market.

From these analyses to connecting food production and consumption in this African context will consist of o eliminating any intermediary that exists between the farmer producer and the consumer, most of whom are in the cities. Effectively connecting food production to its consumption, one also needs serious reforms in these countries agriculture holding systems. With small agriculture tenure as it now, the agriculture cannot become an important industries that could bring out people from poverty and unemployment. As I can explain from the US experience, the small farm does not exist in the country anymore. Large farms are those which are needed. Thus the farmer himself can become the decision maker and the innovator

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DeletedUser

In Australia specifically, food and food securtiy is at the mercy of the big supermarkets. They are the middlemen between the farmers and the consumers. Farmers get less money for their products and consumers have to pay much more and all the profits go to the middlemen.
The government should have a legislation that stops the supermarkets from selling FRESH FOODS. By that I mean fresh fruits, vegetables, and fresh meats. The legislation is needed to stop supermarkets from competing with the farmers who do not work for them.
The farmers should then create cooperatives and sell directly to the public through chains of stores in every suburb. These cooperatives should be extremely well organised to stop big farmers from monopolizing the markets, and in the mean time encourage smaller farmers to be able to participate and create diversity and eventually food security.

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DeletedUser

Rather than regulating... the implementation of ideas proposed in this challenge will drive consumers to demand better transparency and connection with their food.

By creating a change in domestic consumer attitudes by building demand for food through specialist retailers (butchers, grocers etc), the supermarkets will also be forced to change, which will ultimately benefit everyone.

Australia only consumes a small proportion of the food we produce... therefore regulating as you propose would potentially drive a lot of farmers out of business.

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DeletedUser

Rather than regulating... the implementation of ideas proposed in this challenge will drive consumers to demand better transparency and connection with their food.

By creating a change in domestic consumer attitudes by building demand for food through specialist retailers (butchers, grocers etc), the supermarkets will also be forced to change, which will ultimately benefit everyone.

Australia only consumes a small proportion of the food we produce... therefore regulating as you propose would potentially drive a lot of farmers out of business.

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DeletedUser

I was part of a group in Melbourne that were right into growing food locally and food miles. Influenced by The Transition Movement which started in the UK, there were things like food swaps where anyone who grew their own food would meet up once a month, to swap any excess food and share gardening tips.

This lead to discussions about all the possible public spots in the community that would be great for growing food for everyone! This localised response could lead to more resilient communities. Community gardens in very public places create a way to bring community together and a forum to educate each other about food production issues in a friendly way, where you actually feel that in a little way you're part of the solution instead of the problem.

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DeletedUser

Some "Food" for the thought, have a look at this short video (only 5 min.) on "The high cost of cheap food" by Paul Hawken (author of the Blessed Unrest): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cw_VkRKF9k

Hawken eloquently explains how the price of food is divorced from its true costs, and what this really means for society, at large ... it touches upon many of the OpenIdeo LocalFood Concepts!

Photo of Sina Mossayeb

this video clip was well articulated and quite inspiring... definitely was a good way to explain how cost and price are not the same thing with regard to food. Thanks @Hubertine

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova

Hubertine, thanks for sharing this- I like how the point between the differences between price and cost is emphasized. "Food is expensive, price is cheap"- I think this is a point that many of us actually never thought about as we take food and its "cheap price" often for granted..

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DeletedUser

Tks for this COMPLEX SYSTEM point of view about Food price! ;)

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DeletedUser

Food for thought (pardon the pun).

Photo of Puar Si Liang

Get everyone in the supply chain (the farmer who produces the food, the driver who transport the food, the packer etc) to all write a note that would be attached to the packaging of the food that would state their name (with a picture if possible), a contact (address or email) and a (few) thoughts (such as 'hope you enjoy what I just plucked). The persons who receive it will feel a personal connection and they would know how the food got to them and more importantly, they would talk to others about it. The farmers could write every day for a month or write a 100. The quantity written can be decided.

Conversely, people in the urban areas can write back to say what they did with the food. This personal connection would result in loyalty for the product. (I would like to buy X Brand's apples because there is a chance that these were from Farmer John's trees) This loyalty should be channelled towards healthy food (i.e. priority given to organic farmers instead of factory produce for instance).

The result would be that on all ends of the supply chain, people would give more thought to the process by which their food came. A simpler but probably less effective way would be to replace the writing with a website, but nothing beats the personal touch of a handwritten note.

Photo of James McBennett

did anyone propose printed infographic nutritional data?

Photo of Sina Mossayeb

ok. quick question. can we get some links to sources / articles / etc / that expand on the issue and some of the major challenges and solutions. that would help get better footing for relevant ideas :) > thank you openideo

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DeletedUser

like in malang, indonesia. the government concern to encourage apples farmers

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DeletedUser

Currently Australians eat fewer than 300 of the world’s 23,000 edible plants – including a minuscule fraction of Australia’s own 6000 edible plants.

Here is an absolutely superb opportunity to:
- diversify our diets
- lead the word in designing several entirely new cuisines
- save land, water, nutrients, energy and other scarce items required for food production
- create new rural and urban industries with high employment requirements which reward farmers better
- reduce the current death rate from heart disease,cancer, diabetes, stroke and obesity which now kill 1 Australian in every 2
- reduce taxation by lowering the biggest single line item in all government budgets: healthcare.

The only astonishing thing is why we don’t do it…..

- Julian Cribb

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DeletedUser

I like the idea of diversifying our food intake. Probs more an opportunity here in Australia, a relatively young country, with available food types not known to the average consumer

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DeletedUser

I think there is an oppertunity to serve both the farmers and consuerms. A consumer can "donate" their yards to have produce grown, in return they get "free" landscapping.

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DeletedUser

Nice idea

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DeletedUser

I loved this product that I found in a super market in Berlin: It was a large closed pine cone in a small package sold by Hamburg-based Nutwork (http://fruitwork.de/) in Germany. It is designed as an education/entertainment/novelty tool in grocery stores. You buy it for a Euro, take it home and place it in a warm location. After a few weeks the nut cracks open with a creaking, snapping sound over several days. Inside are pollen-covered nuts ready to eat as the delightful scent of pine sap wafts through your home.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulrika_da/sets/72157626305267235

As a designer who has thought about this topic for some time, I was amazed at the entertainment value of this item, and all the additional questions prompted as the nut opened up, spread its scent and my fingers were covered in pollen trying to rob it of the delicious nuts inside. Perhaps supermarkets are an underutilized site for educational tools. Perhaps food as entertainment and education can go far beyond the usual artifice and pomp that we are all used to as marketing devices.

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DeletedUser

i thought about buying one of those, I should have done it!

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DeletedUser

I would definitely buy one of those :-)

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DeletedUser

Hi everyone! So I run my own chocolate company and we do "store demos" in grocery stores and also have a booth at a local farmer's market. The challenge of the in-store demos is that a large margin of the product sold goes to the grocery store. And for the most populated farmer's markets, there is usually a long wait list, annual membership fee and weekly stall fee (from as low as $25 USD to $140 USD) - not to mention long wait lists as barrier to entry. I wonder if we could create a DIY neighborhood/co-op organizing cheat sheet/PDF that would really outline in a simple, step-by-step format to mobilize a community of residents interested in eating better or food producers who have been trouble getting into key neighborhoods to create their own pop-up market. If it was more of a co-op fashion with simple, shared responsibilities, I wonder if other food producers can have a chance to enter the market and also be subject to lower fees to increase profit by being at the markets. There are probably great experts out there who can lend to this working document (google docs/wiki!). Sometimes I think there are a lot of passionate people who want to do something (OpenIDEO for example!) but it's the time that it takes to navigate the gatekeepers or the nuances not easily searchable by internet that can discourage projects from taking off the ground. I think the idea of a co-op is exciting - however, it's about spelling out the tasks in clear, simple defined ways to reduce power mongering within the leadership task force and also encouraging empowerment by easy-to-reach manageable tasks.

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DeletedUser

Hi Susan,
Good luck with your delicious chocolate business. One way in which people are bypassing the gatekeepers in order to more quickly launch projects and market test prototypes are Food Raves. There was an entertaining article on the cover of the New York Times. last Friday, April 15th about Food Raves entitled "They Gather Secretly at Night, and Then They (Shhh!) Eat" - Some Food for thought for you.

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DeletedUser

A Bring -Your-Own-Bananas party!?!

Photo of Cara O&amp;#039;Shell

Hi Susan, your comment reminded me of an NPR story I heard about a cooperative that just exchanged their own canned/jarred goods. This got around a lot of the issues that you talk about, such as needing a certified kitchen (a prohibitive cost for most people who just have extra tomatoes from their garden!). Because there was no exchange of money, it was fine. Also it created a great community of people who could share ideas about gardening and canning.

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DeletedUser

@Cara It would be awesome if there was a reputable food barter website by neighborhood so that anyone with excess could share and receive something new; @NarasimhaMurthy Yes, bananas - why not? :) @Lisa thanks for the article suggestion - will have to check it out!

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DeletedUser

@Cara It would be awesome if there was a reputable food barter website by neighborhood so that anyone with excess could share and receive something new; @NarasimhaMurthy Yes, bananas - why not? :) @Lisa thanks for the article suggestion - will have to check it out!

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DeletedUser

@Cara It would be awesome if there was a reputable food barter website by neighborhood so that anyone with excess could share and receive something new; @NarasimhaMurthy Yes, bananas - why not? :) @Lisa thanks for the article suggestion - will have to check it out!

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DeletedUser

@Cara It would be awesome if there was a reputable food barter website by neighborhood so that anyone with excess could share and receive something new; @NarasimhaMurthy Yes, bananas - why not? :) @Lisa thanks for the article suggestion - will have to check it out!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

@Cara It would be awesome if there was a reputable food barter website by neighborhood so that anyone with excess could share and receive something new; @NarasimhaMurthy Yes, bananas - why not? :) @Lisa thanks for the article suggestion - will have to check it out!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

@Cara It would be awesome if there was a reputable food barter website by neighborhood so that anyone with excess could share and receive something new; @NarasimhaMurthy Yes, bananas - why not? :) @Lisa thanks for the article suggestion - will have to check it out!

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DeletedUser

Many concepts proposed on this OpenIDEO project are related to geographically local food, and while this is not a bad thing, the brief is about bringing information ("relationships") closer, not production physically closer to consumption. We're not being asked to redefine the supply chain, however this may be the most intensely sensory way to achieve the information goal. The tag "localfood" is somewhat misleading.

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DeletedUser

I agree that we don't need to limit ourselves but when I think of this relationship, I think of what happens when we produce things an ocean away. Our arms become so long we no longer see what our hands are doing, and they can do quite a lot of damage. I see the same pattern in land stewardship in modern times, which has already depleted 40% of our arable soil. I see localization of production as a good means of halting this alarming loss and helping to reconnect people in industrialized nations with what they're eating, and how it came to their plate.

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DeletedUser

I agree that we don't need to limit ourselves but when I think of this relationship, I think of what happens when we produce things an ocean away. Our arms become so long we no longer see what our hands are doing, and they can do quite a lot of damage. I see the same pattern in land stewardship in modern times, which has already depleted 40% of our arable soil. I see localization of production as a good means of halting this alarming loss and helping to reconnect people in industrialized nations with what they're eating, and how it came to their plate.

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DeletedUser

The reality is that we need large scale food production to feed the world's growing population. Local farmers provide a critical link to ensure the city populations don't lose sight of the food production industries... we must achieve a balance.

These links with the food producers are politically important for sustainability of our food production resources. It is the large population centres driving policy, but it is these same populations that quickly lose sight of the impacts of outlandish policy on the sustainability, viability and cost of food production.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

The reality is that we need large scale food production to feed the world's growing population. Local farmers provide a critical link to ensure the city populations don't lose sight of the food production industries... we must achieve a balance.

These links with the food producers are politically important for sustainability of our food production resources. It is the large population centres driving policy, but it is these same populations that quickly lose sight of the impacts of outlandish policy on the sustainability, viability and cost of food production.

Photo of Johan Löfström

I mainly see it as a solidarity issue. Why would I in northern Sweden need to be able to eat fresh bananas, pineapples and kiwis each day of the year? when so many others cannot afford to taste them at all?

Why would a person in U.S.A need to waste so much fuel and electricity and water?

There is more than 2 billion other people that have got nothing at all, they would survive very comfortably, like kings, if they had equivalents to a measly one percent of what we throw away and flush down the sink.

My Solidarity thoughts go to future generations aswell.

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DeletedUser

I'm not sure I agree with Duncan. I think we've created a social system that requires large-scale food production, but it is not a fixed system. I think communities, on the neighborhood scale, might want to consider bringing food production to their backyards or a shared, accessible lot. But that will require folks to get real about the food they are buying. It is not normal to eat mangoes any time of the year because they don't grow in the US. So people will have to make tough choices such as foregoing the mango and buying a regionally specific, seasonal fruit. I know it's hard, because I love tropical fruits—the more exotic, the better—but I would be willing to give them up in if meant having a more sustainable system that deepens interpersonal relationships between producers, retailers and consumers.

Photo of Matthew Collins

I love the conversation this has sparked. While I think building closer relationships is important, we also tend to over look the relationships we could build in our backyards. I guess I am speaking metaphorically about the agricultural communities just outside of my Bay Area community. I could go to the grocery store and have no idea where the produce comes from, aside from looking for a country on the label. Instead, I would prefer to get to know the farmers that grow food near me to learn where to buy their produce and how to serve their communities as well. Focusing on geographical distance does support building relationships with producers (speaking as myself, a consumer), and supports tighter bonds across and within growing communities. It's simply going to be hard for me to develop a relationship with a banana farmer in Equator, due to the distance and cultural barriers. I guess the point I'm making is, food production and consumption is inseparably linked to geography, and needs to at least consider geographical factors for improving connections between the two.

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DeletedUser

This project is driven by the Queensland Government and the population centres here and across Australia are coastal. In particular, the Queensland population is predominantly focussed in the south east corner. This uneven geographical dispersion of the population means that there is significant disconnect between food producing communities and the consumers. There are the added problems that the best food producing areas in the SE Queensland have long been disappearing under houses and roads, hence further removing food producing communities from the major population centres.

@Johan - to put the distances in context in context, a banana I buy in Brisbane that was grown in Cairns in north Queensland, has travelled the equivelant distance from Stockholm to Milan.

I support the notion of seasonal availability from local (Queensland/ Australian) producers and don't see the need to bring out-of-season fruit (for example) from overseas. The challenge is that consumers have such a disconnect from their food production that many don't even understand what seasonality means. This is the issue I think the challenge is trying to address.

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DeletedUser

This project is driven by the Queensland Government and the population centres here and across Australia are coastal. In particular, the Queensland population is predominantly focussed in the south east corner. This uneven geographical dispersion of the population means that there is significant disconnect between food producing communities and the consumers. There are the added problems that the best food producing areas in the SE Queensland have long been disappearing under houses and roads, hence further removing food producing communities from the major population centres.

@Johan - to put the distances in context in context, a banana I buy in Brisbane that was grown in Cairns in north Queensland, has travelled the equivelant distance from Stockholm to Milan.

I support the notion of seasonal availability from local (Queensland/ Australian) producers and don't see the need to bring out-of-season fruit (for example) from overseas. The challenge is that consumers have such a disconnect from their food production that many don't even understand what seasonality means. This is the issue I think the challenge is trying to address.

Photo of Johan Löfström

I think also the importance on re-connecting and getting more info on the local farmers is a tax incentive. If the farmer pays his income tax to the same community as I do, we jointly fund our public schools and healthcare. ( versus the multinational companies that produce so much food abroad pays most of their taxes in another country than mine )

@ Duncan, some of our food in sweden are from central europe due to our short growth season, Some even from south america. And you can also compare with the kiwis that are grown in Italy and exported to Australia and NZ in the two months when it is "off-season".

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DeletedUser

Another inspiration - www.30project.org

What is the 30 Project?
The 30 Project is a new way to understand and change the food system.

In the past 30 years, our food system has changed significantly, and today, there is more hunger, more obesity and less healthy agricultural production around the world than ever before.

Changes that started around 1980, precipitated by the consolidation of US agriculture, a decrease in US agricultural aid abroad, and the creation of new and cheap processed foods (like high-fructose corn syrup), have led to our current global landscape of 1 billion hungry and 1 billion overweight.

By taking a 30-year look back we can see the trajectory of how we got to where we are now and, we believe, that if we can take a 30-year look forward, we can envision a global food system that provides healthy, affordable food for people around the world.

The 30 Project will bring together key organizations and activists working around the world on addressing hunger, obesity, and agriculture issues to talk about their visions for the food system and the next 30-years. Many of the best anti-hunger and anti-obesity organizations have been so focused on their important work that they have not been able to work together on common challenges. The 30 Project's mission is to be the table that brings the best people together to work towards creating a truly healthy and sustainable global food system.

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DeletedUser

I saw some figures recently that the levels of food wastage in developed and developing nations are the same (~30%), but the sources of the waste are different. Developed - from throwing out good food; Developing - from inefficient farming and food handling practices.

I like the wholistic approach of the 30 Project. If I find the link to the figures I'll post it.

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DeletedUser

I saw some figures recently that the levels of food wastage in developed and developing nations are the same (~30%), but the sources of the waste are different. Developed - from throwing out good food; Developing - from inefficient farming and food handling practices.

I like the wholistic approach of the 30 Project. If I find the link to the figures I'll post it.

Photo of Lauren Dellaquila

How does this part work if one of our concepts made it through? Should we be updating now? Or waiting for concrete questions and feedback?

Photo of Paul van Zoggel

I really got enthusiastic reading all these great concepts and so many!

Now how not just to pic a few and let the rest go?

Here my try to make some sense...

I guess there are 3 types of concepts in these 600;

PLACE : Inform ourselves where is the best place to grow food.
TIME : Inform ourselves what is the best way to get it to me.
RELATIONS : Supply(place) and demand(time) better matched, through technology, experience and events.

Now what we know;
- Capitalism doesn't work as profit in production and saving in consumption goes over quality and resources.
- Dictatorship will run into shortages and taking freedom of choice away we do not want.
- Pointing fingers 'this is right and this is wrong' never worked, the contrary.

I believe we need to divide the global and local food issue in SURVIVAL and LUXURY:

SURVIVAL :
We are with 6 billion, mostly due our use of digging out fossil fuel to run machines. Nature itself didn't count on this, nature thought old leaves would stay under ground. So nature is not going to take care of us.
We need to figure globally out what is to most efficient way to grow food and distribute food for daily survival. If south america is the best place for tomatoes due to sun, soil and water and they are brought with massive containerships to Europe, fine. If it is on farmland just outside your city, also fine, you can even see them grow.

LUXURY :
After figuring out which part of your food-needs is survival, you can start thinking about luxury. "If I would not eat these 5 mango's and 10 kiwi's this month, I would not physically suffer." You have the choice to still buy them, because you just love Mango's and Kiwi's the whole year. And you are ok with it, because you have the best choices in survival.
Now we can argue that this is not 100% 'doing good'. Though already doing 50% good (survival) is a big step forward. Feeling so good we do 50% good, it might be possible eating Mango's and Kiwi's the whole year doesn't taste so good anymore. They'll taste better when you eat them in the right season!

In order to do this wishful thinking, transition management helps;

Landscape : Get a holistic view on the global food orchestra / music piece. A great idealistic symphony with various music levels, music notes and timing.
Regime : See current structures, obstacles and opportunities and go in dialogue with it's stakeholders, and show them how to get closer to the best global survival symphony.
Niche : All the great 600 Openideo and more concepts are tied in, everybody is doing experiments, the weak fall off, the best are duplicated.

After all we can't design the perfect global food system up front, it has to go through trial and error in combination with an 'ideal', we need to have an idea what the symphony sounds over time and which regime instruments we need in place...

If you read all the way untill here, thank you for your 3 minutes!

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DeletedUser

asd

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What exciting rounds of inspiring and conceptualizing! I think I worked myself into a frenzy attempting to read everyone's posts before the end of the applause.

I am inspired by you all co-OpenIDEO-conspirators. I look forward to see what comes of all our hard work. See you in revisions!

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DeletedUser

I like Xavier's and Tonika's suggestion of encouraging urban farming to increase appreciation for food production. There is a fabulous initiative supporting vegetable gardens in Barcelona, Spain where growing local produce has fostered intergenerational exchange and community building: http://urbangardensbarcelona.wordpress.com/06-the-urban-gardens-of-the-city-of-barcelona/

I also think it is important to include and motivate children, as they are the next generation of consumers, to learn in a fun way about where food comes from, how it is produced and how it can be cooked. There is a great example of an urban children farm in Berlin, http://www.kinderbauernhof.nusz.de/Philipp/Start.html, where kids can learn about animals and nutrition issues in a playful and interactive way.

Another idea to help consumers more easily identify local products in supermarkets would be to have some sort of unified certification and labeling process, where local products are clearly marked with something like a little green dot. That way, the consumer doesn't have to spend time searching to find out whether the garlic for example is local or from China.

Lastly, in order to facilitate intercultural knowledge sharing, I like the idea of having cultural kitchens. The idea is to organize once a month a dinner event where people from the community come together to cook with local ingredients and cultural entertainment. There is a similar project that has just started and been very successful in Utrecht, Netherlands and Berlin, Germany called "The Cultural Cookery."http://www.theculturalcookery.nl/Cultural_Cookery_Utrecht/Home.html

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DeletedUser

Love the cultural kitchen idea: lots to learn from immigrants to spice up my diet while making community connections stronger.

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DeletedUser

I'd like to get more information about the production process, for example in a tag attached to the products I'm buying at a store.

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DeletedUser

a smartphone app that reads the barcode and connects me with the story of my produce.

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DeletedUser

This challenge was a particularly challenging one. I found myself at a loss for concepts that hadn't already been proposed. I also found myself wondering exactly how do you get people to care about where their food comes from in a way that isn't paternalistic or that requires complex logistics. Then, while I was in Mexico, I spoke to a woman who worked for the USDA in the fifties or sixties. She told me that the USDA had a team of employees who were sent to preschools, childcare facilities and the homes of new mothers to teach them about nutrition and healthy eating. Of course the program was terminated at some point, but I thought it was such a brilliant idea. Providing face-to-face meetings with people to show them how simple it can be to eat well. Additionally, they were getting to people at an early stage in life. I'll definitely be applauding those concepts that create an interpersonal framework and targets young people. I'll also be keeping my out for concepts that smartly employ new technologies; in other words, concepts that understand technology is a facilitator not the main attraction.

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DeletedUser

Maybe this has been said somewhere already...
We need to worry about feeding 6 odd Billion people ... is what I hear all the time... and Yet...and yet, there seems to be a Lot of wastage... so somewhere we need to address the System ... of Growing, transporting, merchandising,selling and consuming.... am i off the track here?

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DeletedUser

As a small farmer who lives and breathes this challenge every day, (to find out more about what we do go to www.symarafarm.com.au or look for us on Facebook) I would like to share a few thoughts.

Firstly, there is plenty of demand for food produced by farmers prepared to be connected, the tools to facilitate the trade are readily available, there just aren't enough farmers.

From the producer's perspective it is easy to connect with the people who eat your food, you just have to sell it directly to them. It's that easy. Web based systems for ordering and communicating with customers make farm direct marketing easier than it has ever been.

Take the fantastic produce grown by a diverse vegetable farm partnering with a good fruit grower, artisan baker, grass based livestock producer, add a web ordering system so customers can cherry pick and you have a connected food system.

We used to have a connected food system, and at it's base were smaller producers. A significant part of the problem as I see it is that decades of cost /price squeeze has driven the vast majority of these smaller farmers out of business, so that most of the food we eat now is produced by big operations with little interest in connecting with the families that eat their food.

Which brings us back to 'we need more farmers', and anything which will help entice bright people into farming should be supported.

And now, back to living the challenge,
Cheers,
Ray







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DeletedUser

This, and not some romantic "good ole days" tableau, is what was (is) lamented in the decline of the family farm and the increase in agri-business. The Practical consequence is the loss of a sizable enough producer network that is transitioning through generations who are embracing and incorporating both the practical application of information technology with tried and true sustainable farming techniques. Several generations have been lost and we need to encourage new "seed" family farming.
Thank you for the observation Ray and for sharing it.

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DeletedUser

Locate abandoned, unused, nuisance properties and convert them to gardens. Farmers and Ag Extrension offices could provide education to local citizens and students. If the property were located near a school, students could participate in growing experiences throughout the school year, preparing, sowing, tending and then harvesting foods.

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DeletedUser

Create a 20 year plan that slowly transitions fast food chains into education centres for local and sustainabile produce by introducing one new item a year onto their menus. This item must be locally produced, preferably organic (but that is another story) and the item should come with its own story of the farmers and farming practices used. Rather than a toy or a promotional item. It could be made into a fun educational strategy beginning with children.

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DeletedUser

This is a great idea over a toy that accomplishes nothing more than promoting the latest movie. Adding some info about a local provider of the food would provide a link to the actual farmer in case the family wants to take a field trip.

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Progams like Community Supported Agriculture coops are pretty awesome. They allow families to buy weekly shares of vegetables on a subscription service. Promoting these kinds of programs in urban and suburban areas would help relate food production to consumption.

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DeletedUser

Last year we started a program like this. It was an overwhelming success. It's all well and good to have connections for people to make so they can go pick or buy directly, but with gas prices so high and time so tight, more could take advantage of this if the subscription enabled a central pick up point for all things purchased. Our County has a couple of central pick up points used and that has made a world of difference. Plus, the items vary from week to week so you are getting the latest pick of items you chose from a menu of choices when you subscribe. It's nice to be surprised. Those of us out of the loop on harvest times find it pleasant to open our basket and find strawberries one week, then asparagus another. Having the choice of organic would be welcome also.

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DeletedUser

I'm thinking about the possibility of a geographically based website which lists local food producers within an x km radius from where you are located. This could be searchable wherever you are and you could shop directly at the producer, do daytrips, go pick some fruit there or just find out where you can purchase locally grown food. The site could also rate the producer on biodiversity and sustainability measures.

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DeletedUser

Hi Linda, I like your idea and it made me think of a similar App that I use in the Netherlands. It's called "The Organic Guide" and localizes where you are and which Organic farms, shops and markets there are nearby. It is really helpful and this could maybe be a nice "add-on" to your website?

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DeletedUser

Thanks Linda, I like your idea as well. I'd like to also have the schedules for the closest farmers markets on the app, also what is in season right now.

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When I read the challenge brief, the first question that comes to my mind is, "how do we incentivize bodega and ghetto liquor store owners to replace their alcohol inventories with organic fruits and vegetables?"

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DeletedUser

Some more thoughts...
* can you piggyback/partner with Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, TEDPrize 2010 winner? Chris Waugh of IDEO just did a TEDxSanJoseCA presentation that further's this idea that IDEO has/is working on.
* can you work with Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts? See if they already have a badge that reflects this concept or create a national, worldwide initiative ... like the Girl Scouts Read to Succeed program? What about H engagement?

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DeletedUser

Some more thoughts...
* can you piggyback/partner with Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, TEDPrize 2010 winner? Chris Waugh of IDEO just did a TEDxSanJoseCA presentation that further's this idea that IDEO has/is working on.
* can you work with Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts? See if they already have a badge that reflects this concept or create a national, worldwide initiative ... like the Girl Scouts Read to Succeed program? What about H engagement?

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DeletedUser

Although this is not my area of expertise, and my first time to post on openideo, and to be honest - not reviewing all the materials yet. Here are some of my first thoughts, which you may have already considered:
*what are co housing communities doing that have this as a top goal? Co Housing USA - http://www.cohousing.org/
*have you talked with local restaurants using primarily local products like Jesse Cool in Menlo Park, CA? Leveraging what they are already doing, get their best practices, lessons learned.
*have you talked with culinary schools to see how you can leverage them? There are also non-profits like JobTrain (formerly OICW) in Menlo Park who have a culinary program
*how have you engaged the local farmers markets - organizers?
*what about the Sierra Club organiation? In 2007 they championed a climate action program to be supported by local city mayors across the USA?
*what about local cities who have programs like Menlo Park Green Ribbon Citizen Committee? Palo Alto also has a green citizens group.

Hope something here can be helpful!

Good luck!
Kristi

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DeletedUser

A "connection" can only be made or improved if both sides the potential of a 'win win'. The consumer must see the benefits of local production and the grower in local sales. Farmers' markets are one example of this so how do we extend these interests?
1. Local/regional government to incentivise the markets with support and subsidises.
2. Consumers to be given loyalty points for buying local foods. Loyalty points to be redemied for local foods only.
3. The export licences for foods to fund the loyalty points above.

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DeletedUser

I have lived in a number of communities with all manner of degrees of separation from food producers. In Tennessee, USA, where I was raised, factors affecting consumer behavior included: socioeconomic poverty relative to the rest of the country, seasonal extremes, sprawl, limited education, and physiological waste (laziness). Though there were occasional stops at roadside peach stands, my single mom bought all of our food (in the form of highly processed frozen meals) from the cheapest grocery stores around. Interestingly, my mother was born and raised in Germany, and every time we would visit I would see the stark contrast in food rootedness. In Germany, all my family members lived in multi-unit homes with very large community gardens adjacent. They grew all manner of herbs, vegetables, and flowers, in addition to keeping rabbits, eels, etc., for future use. If this was how my mother was raised, was our Tennessee community culture so overwhelmingly oppositional that we completely forgot how to live in better equilibrium with our environment?

In my 20's, I spent a good deal of time in central China, where there were food stands everywhere. Unfortunately, when following the food to its source, I usually cringed at what I saw. In my home suburb of Wuhan, most of the small stand farmers obtained there water from a sludgy, black canal into which local industry freely pumped waste. Though I was directly connected to the growers of my bananas, yams, and greens, I can't say that I was very excited about the process.

I now live in Berkeley, California, where there are many resources directed towards slow cooking, community gardens, neighborhood deliveries, local consumption, wholesome school lunches, farmers' markets, etc. Still, the concepts are hard sales to overly stressed, low-income families with limited means.

I am not a food expert, nor am I much of a foodie. If not for my wife, I would eat cereal and ice cream for every meal (I actually did this once for about 3 weeks). Notwithstanding, our apartment is full of veggies form the farmers' market, we grow our own herbs, and we try to eat as little processed and foreign (i.e., distant) food as possible. Considering all the places, I've lived and degrees of responsiveness I've witnessed, my points on this topic are as follows.

1. Make sure that government subsidies to low-income peoples translate to subsidies for local farmers. In Tennessee, for a long while food stamps could not be used at famers' markets. Later, when stamps were replaced with cards, those cards were not usable at farmers' markets because the state did not want to cover the costs of card readers at local markets.

2. Partner with local schools, retirement homes, and corporate kitchens to provide large-volume venues for local farmers. Growing up, I was so loaded on soft drinks and skittles from my high school vending machines that I'm surprised I still have teeth. Ban junk food from schools and educate students about where there prepared menus originate.

3. Make sure your local food movement does not end up on "what white people like" or some similar cultural bulletin. If your actions seem to target a particular demographic, you are not adequately serving your community.

4. Partner with local builders or architectural agencies to promote centralizing kitchens over living rooms or data centers for family teaching and connectivity.

Thanks,
KC

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DeletedUser

Who is going to start taking care of the farmers so that they take care of our food ?

From what I have seen there the problem with food consumption is at the root of the system. We have the EU that subsides-es the farmer (great) so that he sells it to a producer organisation (no harm in that) only to open the markets and the retailer imports it from other countries to sell it at a cheaper price than the local produce, only to leave the farmer with his produce rotting and waiting to be thrown away (bad).

Farmers are generally aware of their expected produce months in advance so governments should take this into consideration before allowing imports of the same goods, any excess should be given to countries in need and not send it to the west to be thrown away.

This will allow the distribution of good to were is really needed also reducing unnecessary transportation costs and use the same funds to support the local farmer to allow more competitive pricing. In many countries within the EU the farmer is finding himself not able to sustain himself financially after a year of planning and hardship. Taking this into consideration will avoid the farmer being tempted to give in to GMs once taken over by the large corporations.

Once I moved to the UK I have discovered a company such as Abel&Cole. I get a box of vegetables every week at my door, the advantages are several (other than the weekly little gifts such as the extra carton of milk or that bar of organic choc bar):

1. I book one box weekly so they know their customer base and their farmers can plan ahead.

2. the selection is made by them of whatever is in season (I can tell them what I like and don't like), strawberries in winter ... what ?

3. Stopped buying ready meals.

4. Make the effort to cook, so I am eating better (and woow I actually know what I am eating).

5. My recycling bin shrank by 2/3 as I have less packaging.

6. I get free recipes as well as experiment with veggies I would have never bought.

What this company has done is connect the farmers to the consumer, all my food is organic and produced within the UK. I'm eating better and producing less waste, win win.

What I love about the farmers market is the feel of the community, it becomes a treat to visit and have a chat on that Saturday afternoon when its -2 and snowy. With the current recessionary problems most countries have been experiencing a local market can give an opportunity for someone to make something if one finds himself suddenly unemployed and at the same time help within the community.

Connecting the community is key to a better distribution of good were any excess should be given to for example soup kitchens rather than let it go to waste.

Photo of Diego Gonzalez Carvallo

Livia, I am working in some kind of structure to connect consumers to farmers. Famili farming 2.0. I like the experience that you mention, Could you give us more information of this company Abel&Cole. The customer experience that you tell us is amazing.

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DeletedUser

There are organic stores selling boxes here in Germany, too. Actually really many do that here. Most have German only sites, like http://www.oekokiste.de/ (that their groups page) http://www.dirksbiokiste.de/ (that is one individual store doing it). I can translate it roughly if google translate will not do the trick!

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DeletedUser

The AUB (American University of Beirut) in Lebanon provides the same service. You'd sign up for a weekly "basket" (of which you have two options, a big one and a small one depending on your family size) which they deliver to your house. The products are organically grown at the university by the students.
It's a great concept, however, the cost for the basket is a bit steep for the average consumer which makes it limited to those few who 1- care and 2- can afford it.

The difference in prices between the grocery shop next door and the delivered basket in the developing world is humongous which makes it a "hip" idea for those 1% that can afford it and not a real solution for most of the farmers.

However, farmers market, which ends up being a social hangout, have succeeded in canceling out the middle-person and bridged the gap between local farmers and urban consumers.

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DeletedUser

Same in Holland with the "Fresh Organic Seasonable Vegetable-Fruit Bag". It also has an educational element to it as it raises the awareness of the consumers of what is natural to eat in which season. What I love about this concept is that every week we also get different recipes with the products which makes cooking each day surprising and fun!!

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DeletedUser

Hello,
I am a young professional who has been an entrepreneur and farmer in the model of farming which you are discussing. In the U.S., we refer to this type of farming as Community Supported Agriculture. Community members buy membership shares in the farm for the year in exchange for a share of the harvest. In addition to connecting the community to their growing food in a multitude of ways, C.S.A.s represent a good economic model for young people interested in getting involved in farming if they don't come from a family farming background, especially if they are farmers who want strong interaction with their community.
Since farming is a costly venture to get started in if you aren't inheriting a farm, C.S.A.s allow farmers to procure all of the years income before they grow their crops, an economic boon.
The average age of a farmer in the U.S. is 59. Very soon, the U.S is going to need allot of young farmers to take up stewardship of the land in order to just keep growing the same amount of food currently grown in the U.S. The young farmer movement is growing.
I don't feel C.S.A.s are a systemic panacea, but they do play an important role in the growth of a just and sustainable food system in the U.S. and provide a powerful model for connecting producers and consumers in conscious and mutually beneficial ways.

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DeletedUser

It is great to see the Queensland Government using this forum to develop ideas about securing food production. Queenslands has long periods of drought. The most recent drought lasted 10 years and was followed this year with massive flloding which has impacted dramatically on our agricultural industry. As Australia moves to a low carbon economy we will need to reduce the long distances our food is transported. These issues underscore the need to develop more efficient food production. As a member of the Queensland Government I have been working closely with Green Infrastructure Network Australia to educate Queenslanders of the inportance of Urban Agriculture. Growing food in urban area will dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of food production as well as reducing the need to continue large scale clearing of native bushland to meet the nutritional needs of an increasing population. I am looking forward to reading the contribution on this important issue.

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DeletedUser

Steve,
Thank you for the local specific information on Queensland agriculture. Your post draws our attention to the fact that local specific information guides us in envisioning solutions that may work on-the-ground in Queensland towards reparing the disconnect between rural producers and urban consumers. Time for me to do some Googling on the climate in Queensland and what is grown there!
In agreement with your statement, I think urban agriculture creates an opportunity for authentic experiences with the living food system. Urban agriculture makes the food system visible to urban dwellers who do not have access to rural farms, and provides access to the natural world. Urban farms may also serve as summer work projects for local youth as well as places of sanctuary for apartment dwellers.

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It would be interesting if we could leverage the existing network of CSAs or Community Supported Agriculture that already has a presence in the wealthier urban areas. Often times, CSAs offer free doorstep delivery for many of their customers. I suspect this is a time-consuming and labor intensive process. It would be cool if a CSA truck made one stop in a centrally located urban area and solicited teenage students to deliver groceries in surrounding neighborhoods. Students would be "paid" with free food from the CSA. This could be a win-win-win. CSA reduces carbon footprint by utilizing less gas, neighbors receive timely delivery with a larger delivery service area, youths gain exposure to farms and are able to bring fresh free food home to the family.

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DeletedUser

There are lots of great comments floating around here. I particularly resonate with Elizabeth S and Maija regarding the importance of "personalizing" the source of our food. This is so for fruits and vegetables that take months to mature, but also for seafood or other animal products where a deeper understanding for how fishes are caught, milk is produced, etc. can lead to greater empathies and appreciation of all the things we consume.

Already, many large distributors, for quality control, track where each pallets of say apples or strawberries come from. Hence, it shouldn't be too much extra work to further connect the face and story to the product. In fact, berry producer and distributor Driscoll's, has a program of Follow Us To The Farm where all the berries have a specific code on their clamshell package that allows the consumer to go online and check out the farm that produced their berries.

I want to take the personalization concept further and add that I think personally experiencing something is quite different from just hearing about it or reading it. Thus, I encourage and support individuals, families to go visit a farm; feel, breath, touch all the elements that goes into our food production. I believe there are even day-long or weekend programs hosted by or similar to the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program where enthusiasts can go and learn the farmers' way by direct experience.

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DeletedUser

Agreed on the quality control tracking - it'd be interested in seeing a system where fresh produce and ingredients have a story, a human connection to the original source.

There have been a lot of great tools and resources referenced from various communities and countries. A reference occurred to me that's sort of outside of the category. Maybe it could be transformed and applied to to this case: Domino's Pizza has a "pizza tracker" that indicates time and name of the person personally looking after your order at each phase - e.g. order received by Joe, John is assembling fresh ingredients, John has placed your pizza in the oven, and then Jeff is en route to deliver a fresh-made, hot pizza. (The same could be said of Amazon.com or UPS tracking, which mass consumers area alredy familiar with).

What if there was a way to reverse-track the source of your food, from farmer to retailer to shelf?

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DeletedUser

I like this idea! I just heard of something similar where you can scan your product with your mobile phone and it will not only track and trace the origin, Co2- and waterfootprint, calories etc. but by the use of augmented reality you can even see the person cooking in the kitchen making your food at that given moment. Food with a personal touch and a smile :-)

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Jen, I love your idea. Whole Foods often has placards indicating where food comes from, it would be neat if farmer could actually come to grocery stores to personally distribute their food to masses. It would help humanize the process.

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DeletedUser

Some people have already commented on consumer education and I really like the idea that consumer education has to begin at a very young age. What about reaching out to elementary and middle schools who run large-scale food programs? It could start small at first, maybe negotiate that all of the lettuce comes from local production. Once the switch has been made, then an education campaign can piggy-back off of that - schools can introduce the idea of a community garden and teach students how to grow food. I think it is important to show youth the connection between the soil and the foods that they consume.

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DeletedUser

Eating habits have to be taught to children from 1 to 7 years if we want them to become healthy eating adults. In the same way there are programs like the one in Japan where kids go with their moms to buy groceries. They have a small shopping cart and they are responsible for buying vegetables and food. This could also be used to teach them to buy local food and to be sociallt responsibvle

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DeletedUser

Thanks to American social "mobility" (whatever that means) there are a couple of additional questions that come to my mind immediately with this one. Having grown up as a first generation immigrant, I am no stranger to indiscriminate eating. My parents remember what it is like to starve so for our family, if it is available, EAT IT. So the first question is, "Why is this knowledge - how to connect food consumption to production - important?" For some who are too busy trying to put food on the table, how is this relevant to our daily lives? I think that if we could answer those questions more succinctly and in simpler terms, perhaps we could inspire ourselves and other (across a wide spectrum of socio-economic positions?) to be more curious about production BEFORE consumption.

Secondly, except for in the theatrical fashion, I have never starved; so I am very discriminating about what I put in my mouth. So the second question is: "For those of us who can afford to be discriminating, are we inadvertently attaching a stigma to our food source and food production?" I am relatively removed from my community. When I return for holidays and such both my peers and elders perceive my being picky as a sort of "snobbery." This is something I come across quite often. Is this perception of snobbery translating into some kind of unspoken or inherent aversion (or fear?) to "learning" about food production: who produces it, where is it produced, how is it produced, etc?

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DeletedUser

HI everyone. I joined IDEO challenge a couple of days ago but when i started thinking about what the challenges is asking the first thing that came to mind was going green and sustatinability.Here are my thoughts To answer the sustainability aspect of the challenge, there is need to gather the fundamentals of what it entails. There needs to be cleaner farming and production methods. On the farming side there can be an introduction of hydroponics (growing of plants using mineral nutrients to water plants without soil).this might seem a little bit far fetched but i think its doable. This will play a large role in encouraging green farming. Developing synergies between the farming sectors and the producing sector will go a long way in ensuring sustainability also. For instance, joint ventures between the farming sector, large co-operations and agricultural micro-financing entities may be crucial in ensuring success. In addition, educating people in low income countries about farming methods that contribute to the conservation of the environment will also be important in ensuring sustainability. Further, the production of drought resistant crops tailored to local conditions may also be omething worth looking into

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DeletedUser

This idea of a farmer's market model sparked an interesting idea for me. My neighborhood has a wonderful farmer's market once a week that features local farmers, fishers, bakers, etc. But the challenge for me is that the market is only available one time per week for 4 hours. Usually I need to do shopping for food at other times, and some weeks I am really busy and coordinating my schedule and planning my meals with shopping the farmer's market is challenging. What if we could combine the typical grocery store produce section with the idea of a farmer markets. Independent growers could be featured through out the produce, meat department and bakery with permanent space, each featuring where the food comes from and who are the people who produce it. That way, the fresh farmers market food would be available to the shopper all week long. I could even imagine farmers coming in once or twice a week to host farmer market events which would draw in more customers.

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DeletedUser

I live in a city where there are farmers markets year-round. My daily commute takes my through a sidewalk that hosts a market twice a week, so as a result I get to see what the local growers have to offer each week. For the last few months all I've seen are potatoes, apples, cider, honey, and cheese. In stark contrast to the farmers markets are the produce aisles of the grocery stores in my city. Fresh everything, year round. Being able to see what is in season, what local farmers can offer, each week has changed the way I view the produce aisles in the grocery store. Yes, common sense tells me there shouldn't be tomatoes if it's January in New York, but living in an urban setting creates a bit of a disconnect with the realities of growers.
What if the parking lot of grocery stores had a small strip of land running down the middle with a garden in it? What if people could actually see food growing in the same place where they bought food? The first step to connecting rural growers with urban consumers might be to start by educating urbanites about where food comes from, and to appreciate the local growing environment and what it has to offer.

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DeletedUser

Thomas, I totally support your notion that urban dwellers need the immediacy and intimacy that is provided by witnessing and interfacing with a tangible grow space on a daily level. As a resident of Chicago, I think we all too quickly forget where our food comes from--a disconnect which leads to far too many nutritional, social, and environmental abuses. I'd also like to comment on your mentioning of commuting past a local market. In areas like Chicago, where public transportation is such a fixture of daily life, there are many opportunities to confront and engage people with the history, production, and identity of their foodstuffs. I’d love to see some form of your parking lot idea adapted to the often forgotten real estate next to Chicago’s El system. Frequently this real estate is unused, unrented, or undeveloped—cast out as some of the less desirable, noisier territory of the city. However, often, there is nothing wrong with the land itself. Repurposing this “waste” land seems like it could be highly feasible, cost efficient, and wholly beneficial to the local community.

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DeletedUser

This idea of a farmer's market model sparked an interesting idea for me. My neighborhood has a wonderful farmer's market once a week that features local farmers, fishers, bakers, etc. But the challenge for me is that the market is only available one time per week for 4 hours. Usually I need to do shopping for food at other times, and some weeks I am really busy and coordinating my schedule and planning my meals with shopping the farmer's market is challenging. What if we could combine the typical grocery store produce section with the idea of a farmer markets. Independent growers could be featured through out the produce, meat department and bakery with permanent space, each featuring where the food comes from and who are the people who produce it. That way, the fresh farmers market food would be available to the shopper all week long. I could even imagine farmers coming in once or twice a week to host farmer market events which would draw in more customers.

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DeletedUser

Great to see!!! The world exists outside of SEQ!!! We see food from this region travel to Brisbane and return to supermarket shelves. The food supply chain needs to enable local supply and regional distribution in all directions. Strong investment in Increased Consumer awareness will assist. Information to enable consumers to make the choice!!

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DeletedUser

This challenge introduced many forking possibilities for the simple reason that food represents an essential need but also a significant political bargaining chip. As populations have increased, global trade has increased. And global trade, in turn, is affected by national politics and desires of burgeoning, international, as well as local, corporate interests.

Empowering the consumer through education is an excellent starting place yet we cannot dismiss the role of the producer within the larger cultural and economic frameworks.

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DeletedUser

Going off Kartik's point about marketing, there's this great project called Lifecycles where this director is filming the growth of popular vegetable and condensing it into short films. He hopes to have them played in the produce aisle of supermarkets in an effort to show the effort needed to grow say a squash which takes 55 days to grow.
http://lifecycles.urbanplough.com/

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DeletedUser

or that a kilo of beef takes 50,000 litres of water to make

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DeletedUser

I once bought organic eggs that had a small sheet from the egg farm owner within. It had a picture of the farmer and said something like "thanks for buying eggs from my farm, I have X chicken and I am happy to produce organic products".
While this information has no big substantial value I like the way of sending messages from the producer to the customer. I would like to have such information on fruits or vegetables. Like a QR code or short link printed on the product with more information from the producer. With fruits it could include information on how or where the product was made. Even further it could include recipes on how to make jam or cake with the product. Building up on open online community with both producers and consumers could be fun and informative at the same time.

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DeletedUser

may not have or want to have the capacity to both grow food and find urban consumers. My suggestion would be to encourage intermediaries to create a program that encourages urban farming (farming on your balcony/in your kitchen) by including rural farmers as teachers/experts.

The goal of a program like this would be to raise awareness and develop an appreciation for food production. This would in turn make people more open to the idea of buying local, even if it costs a bit more. Spinoffs for this could include cooking classes, cook-offs, festivals and more.

Then a community currency program (a points card program) could be launched where consumers were rewarded when they bought local food. Then with programs like 4sqaure, social media could be used to broadcast when a local purchase is made. With the right social media and media strategy this could turn Queensland into another great global example of this work.

In this example, the retailer is the convenor. They understand the Rural Grower and the Urban Consumer. This role could be incentivized by the government by providing a tax break or subsidy for participating retailers.

Another role for government is to include a "buy local" map along transit lines. So when people are looking for transport information, they also see what establishments provide locally produced food.

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DeletedUser

For starters, I think part of the answer lies in the words used in the The Challenge title - '....food production and consumption', which are very alienating and jargonistic. What comes to mind when you read these words? (for me, its very BORING and BLAND). This is the language of the scientist or engineer.

We need to use everyday words to engage ordinary people on an emotional level.

Words like 'farming', 'gardening' and 'eating' allow for an emotional response. What comes to mind when you read these words?

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DeletedUser

An interesting new policy initiative by the City of Philadelphia to tax soda to help fund healthy food provision to lower income groups: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/go-philly/?hp

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As far as the US is concerned we are talking a cultural shift here. We have become use to out of season produce and buying everything we need once a week at the super market. This is very different from the way they shop in France and other European countries. There, a trip to the grocery is more of a daily event and fresh bread is purchased daily as well. It is alive you see. To change behavior in the US will be a tough and long process and appropriate incentives must be considered. In way of solutions I know that urban gardening is becoming more popular, especially for providing produce to local restaurants (please see Growing Power: http://www.growingpower.org/) and green house farming is also gaining some traction (please see Confluent Energies: http://www.cei-atg.com/).

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DeletedUser

A great example of reducing the gap between food production and consumption http://foodfromthesky.org.uk/

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DeletedUser

At the University where I work, the College of Agriculture partnered with the Cooperative Development Authority to set up a Cooperative Market (CM) where local producers can have an outlet for their produce and where consumers can buy organic products and get to know the farmers growing their food. The CM is located just across ShoeMart (SM), the largest mall chain in the Philippines, which is somewhat an allusion to David facing up to Goliath. Hopefully, now that the CM is closer to SM, consumers will be more discerning in buying their food and will choose products grown locally over those imported from other countries or grown by multinational corporations. And because the CM is a cooperative, benefits will be shared to the members equitably.

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I tend to believe the solution lies in creating a consumer experience that works to address the challenges described in the brief. We need to work to design experiences that bring consumers full circle to the people, logistics and locations where their food is sourced. This doesn't have to be didactic but rather should create an incentive to experience food consumption in a new and sustainable way.

I'll be focusing my efforts hear during the concept phase. Please reach out if you have ideas to share!

Best, - J

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DeletedUser

Check out this really cool project in Mexico City: VIACOOP http://www.via.coop/
They´re connecting over 100 communities of small producers from 11 bioregions in Mexico with more than 25 community-runned distribution centers in different cities in the country. Their aim is to eliminate intermediaries and bring fresh and organic produce to the table of consumers. The centers educate and distribute all sorts of products, from organic lettuce, to clean energy and holistic medicine.

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DeletedUser

Building on Lucas's comments, I believe that the crucial gap is in the disconnect between the raw materials and final products. It would perhaps need marketing and awareness efforts to establish the dependence of the consumer culture on the rather unglamorous and slow-paced activity of food production. Perhaps a campaign which highlights this dissonance could help, for e.g. having cocoa farmers in adverts which glamorize them instead of the already famous celebrities.

Another interesting aspect is temporality. Consumption is by its very nature fast paced and production inversely slow. Awareness needs to be generated on the production process, in a manner which holds the limited attention span of the contemporary consumer.

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DeletedUser

Grower – retailer – consumer
Retailers know growers
Consumers know retailers

Grower – I grow food to be sold
Retailers – I buy food to be sold to consumers
Consumers – I buy food to feed my family

We need a solution that brings millions of micro growers up to large organic farms together with consumers that want to eat local food. Who could be the retailer for a low volume seasonal product? We need a new middle man a new kind of retailer. Collection and distribution from big and little local farmers. The LOCAL Amazon. One site for the shopper but coming from a million small farms. You can limit your radius of ordering and see only available in a ring of your choosing.

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DeletedUser

The way it should be : Contact the directly to farmers via any medium. Now thinking about farmers using Facebook or Twitter is far more imaginary at-lest now in India. So for this there must be any community of farmers for some areas which directly contacts with urban area head. It must be a group work no individual can go to real farm and buy something ! So you can create community on bases of ares, like the buyers of that community will purchase everything from their specified rural area community. It means theres one to one connection between ONE RURAL AREA COMMUNITY HEAD with ONE URBAN COMMUNITY HEAD. For this heads of community there must be someone who is ready to do something for society. They might be retired people or young blood. But ready to help otherwise if they are corrupt then this whole idea goes down. Theres a big question about their loyalty.

You in any way can not make buyers and suppliers communicate with each other directly ! They are far away from each other. Buyers mentality also doesn't permits them to contact farmers because of culture difference and other things like their way of living. So in any case you need some mediators better they are HEADs from each community. There is also one problem here how the Urban area head will supply food to one individual?? That remains one question.

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I read a few hours ago in an in-flight magazine about this company called PlantLab based in the Netherlands that uses LED technology among others for sustainable urban farming (see http://www.plantlab.nl/). They have reported very good results so far and it would be nice to see the concept in its full scale.

But what I would really like to share are three things happening in the Philippines (where I am from and based): (1) Gawad Kalinga's Bayan-Anihan, a grassroots community-based food sufficiency program (see http://bayan-anihan.com/); (2) Gawad Kalinga's Center for Social Innovation, an ecosystem development initiative (see http://gk1world.com/gkcsi); and (3) Microventure's Hapinoy, a microenterprise development initiative with a network of convenience stores in rural communities (see http://www.hapinoy.com/about_storeprogram.html).

As a GK worker, I have seen firsthand how all 3 initiatives connect food production and consumption in a more sustainable way: by building communities as inclusive platforms. And by communities we do not just mean building the infrastructure but also the relationships between players and stakeholders through long-term formation programs.

All three still need a lot of improvement but they have initial signs of success.

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DeletedUser

When I worked in Ecuador, we collaborated with a group called Guardianes de Semillas (Guardians of Seeds or GdS). The concept behind GdS is that as more and more agriculture shift away from the traditional subsistence farming and into commercial agribusiness models, where farmers become reliant on non-regenerative seeds that require lots of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, we start losing not only biodiversity in plant genes but also the ability of plants to thrive and adapt to a changing local environments. This is especially so because many of these agribusiness seeds are produced in places far away from where they are ultimately seeded.

What I loved about GdS is that not only is it starting this very important movement, it's also created a thriving community of like-minded environmentalists, farmers, gardeners, etc. This community has started training programs on permaculture, and has worked with farmers and consumers in different provinces on growing, consuming and selling more locally and organically.

In societies where wet-markets (as opposed to super/hypermarkets) still exist and is still popular, I think it's a great idea to capitalize on that already intense vendor-customer practice and start educating people about organics, buying local, etc.

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I designed an Oyster Plate and made several in ceramic stoneware clay. It was a collaborative effort from a workshop I went to with Arturo Dell'Acqua Bellavitis. The collaborator was Jenny Loy a Design lecturer in Tasmania. I posted the image of the plate online and wrote some information about it and did not have any response for a year or so until one day a woman from Tasmania rang me out of the blue. She had surfed the net to find Oyster Plates as her family are Oyster farmers in Tasmania and she wanted a special gift to give to a family member for her forthcoming wedding. I later got a call from the woman's mother because she was going to purchase the plates. We spoke on the phone for a while and I suggested I send her a couple of plates for her to see and trial. She has two Oyster farms and I thought it would be a good extra product line if they were able to sell them to oyster consumers. The outcome is still ongoing with no purchases but an interest from a very good connection. A person in the Oyster Industry with probably no capability of knowing about me a - very small sole operator independent manufacturer on the mainland of Australia.

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Don't forget guys – the *real* conversation is going on just now over on the Inspiration Phase: http://bit.ly/localfood-inspire We'd love to join in there too.

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DeletedUser

A great example are Growing communities, a social entreprise run by local people in Hackney East London. They transform food and farming through community-led trade: http://www.growingcommunities.org

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DeletedUser

Oh, sorry, I'm new to this and not sure what goes where. Inspiration.
I'm a big fan of Community Supported Agriculture, which is a bit like what Elizabeth described but is a one-on-one relationship with a particular farm. You sign up in the early spring and pay a certain rate, usually depending on how much produce you want every week, and you pay up front because the farmer needs the money to buy seeds and equipment at the beginning of the season. Then, every week you go to a pick-up spot and get your allotment of whatever is growing, usually a wide variety of things. Some farms include meat and dairy as well. It's an excellent deal and puts the consumers directly in touch with both the farmers and the reality of food production -- certain foods are only available in certain seasons, for example.
I also like urban farmers markets, which I'm seeing more and more.

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DeletedUser

Wow, there are so many levels on which to address this. There is a program in Philadelphia where they grow food on unused urban land, http://www.phillyorchards.org/. I think that helps because it helps the urban population see what goes into the process of caring for food producing plants. But education seems to be the main issue. I don't think many urban consumers think about the fact that Chile uses pesticides that have been banned in the US when they're buying fruit in the winter, or of the cost of transporting it. Transportation cost is a major issue both because of the pollution it causes, and because of the wars we have to go to to get the fuel for it.
Another issue regarding sustainability practices is family farm vs. agribusiness.
Wouldn't it be great if food could come up with some sort of "sustainability rating" that took into account a) how far the food had traveled, and b) the farming practices used to produce it? Maybe farmers with a higher sustainability rating could be subsidized to reward them for not relying on agrochemicals/cheap labor/externalized transportation costs to go for the lowest bottom line and to help them be competitive?

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I recently heard some farmers are using Twitter to connect to the commodity trading exhange boards to directly negotiate for prices on their products thus eliminating the middleman. This got me thinking about how Twitter and other pieces of technology can be used to enhance the relationship between local food production and consumption. How often do we know the face, name or location of the farmer who grew the food we pick at the supermarket? How often in our daily lives do we use social media to connect to our retailers and our favorite brands when shopping at a brick-n-mortar store or online? What if we could go into a supermarket and connect to signage which identifies the face, name and / or location of the farmer who grew the apples we're about to purchase? What if we could use our phone or pda to connect to the farmer's web site, Facebook page or Twitter account to get addionally information about the product we are about to purchase and personally connect to our farmer. Maybe then, our farmer would no longer be a faceless entity to us as the consumer in the food production and consumption value chain.

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DeletedUser

Backyard/Urban Farming http://www.cityfarmer.info/category/philippines/ Even housing policies can consider requiring a space allotment for this. Initial phase can be for vegetables just to pilot and concretely show it is possible then expansion may be pursued.

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DeletedUser

In reply to Sina Mossayeb's request for relevant websites, we at Seed Savers' Network in Australia have created a website on home food production, seed issues, and how to save seeds of heritage, local varieties of food plants (that have superior nutrition), http://www.seedsavers.net, with free resources twitters, blogs, Facebook link and 240 clips posted to Youtube.com/seedsavers.

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DeletedUser

When approaching making a garden, of course think soil improvement with manure kick-starts, composts and mulches; but also conceive of the soil as a seed bank, so that herbs, roots, salads and greens for cooking will germinate when the soil is at the ideal moisture and temperature, without inputs. To achieve this (we have dozens of self-seeding plants in our acre in Byron Bay), simply let vegetables and seeds go to seed and ensure the seed falls or is spread onto that good soil.