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Can local, organic food be affordable to all? Hardwick, Vermont, works to find out.

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A small Vermont town at the epicenter of America's local, organic food movement grapples with a question near and dear to me and other New Hope editors.

In Hardwick, Vermont, unemployment is 40 percent higher and the median income is 25 percent lower than the Vermont state average. And yet, in the midst of this economic trouble, local, organic farming is booming, according to Ben Hewitt, who writes about the town in his book The Town that Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food.

But before you start celebrating the economic engine that can be fueled by small, organic farms, listen to the piece that aired on NPR’s Morning Edition. The story looks at the other part of Hardwick—the part that can’t afford to eat at Claire’s, the local restaurant serving up the area’s food bounty, or to buy the fresh, organic produce sold at the town’s busy farmers’ market.

“[Hewitt] only covers one side of the town,” Derek Demers, a Hardwick high school student who read Hewitt’s book, told NPR. “There’s the side of the town that’s for the local food movement, but I think there’s an even greater side of the town, with more people, that can’t afford the local food. I work at our local supermarket grocery [where less-expensive food is shipped in from far away], and I see most of the people in town there.”

Listening to this story during my commute to work this morning got me thinking. What would be required to make local, organic food affordable? This form of agriculture isn’t supported by the government subsidies that help keep down the prices of corn, soy and other commodities grown by factory farms. Small farmers also do not benefit from the efficiencies of production that come with larger scale agriculture.

Pete Johnson is one Hardwick farmer who is trying to solve this puzzle. Owner of Pete’s Greens, one of the largest organic farms in the area, Johnson is investing in equipment that will enable him to freeze his harvests so that the products can be sold throughout the year, as well as to cut and puree the vegetables he grows so that they can be more conveniently consumed. The local supermarkets are also trying to do more to support Hardwick farmers by stocking their vegetables, and Hardwick schools are buying the potatoes used in school lunches from area farms. According to NPR, all of this is beginning to make a difference in helping the farmers of Hardwick get their food into the bellies of local residents.

Based on the 40-plus comments that already have been logged on the NPR website in response to this story, local farming strikes a nerve for many people. It may not be the most “efficient” form of agriculture, but it seems to represent how a growing number of Americans want to live. “I prefer to spend more on food, which ends up in my bloodstream, than on say the cable television I don’t have time to watch anyway or on clothes I will only wear once.”

The NewHope360 team (along with Natural Foods Merchandiser, Nutrition Business Journal and Delicious Living magazine) plan to dive deep into the issue of food affordability later this year and in 2012. We will tell the story of places like Hardwick, and explore ways farmers, manufacturers and retailers are working to make healthy food more affordable while also changing consumer perceptions that McDonald’s prices represent the real cost of food.

Can local farmers feed America, including people who make minimum wage and struggle already to put food on the table for their families? Or do we need to rely on mega players such as Walmart to make healthy food affordable? Is organic an “elitist preoccupation” (as one person recently told us)? Who are the leaders in helping to make healthy food affordable for and accessible to all? We’d love to hear your thoughts as we investigate these issues. Please join the conversation by sharing your comments below.

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on Jul 18, 2011

Introducing ‘The Good Food Truck’.

My Good Food Friends -

Nutritionists, dietitians, researchers, healthcare providers, policy makers, and Departments of Public Health have been stayin’ up late at night, tossin’ and turnin’, wringing their hands for years wondering how to get healthy foods into underserved Neighborhoods. Their concern is the lack of access to affordable, healthy food in underserved communities, food deserts, and the health disparities that follow. And you know them all: diabetes, obesity, heart-artery, cancers, etc., etc., etc., never-ending … until we end it!

So what do WE do: The Good Food Truck, bringin’ Organic Good Foods, Fruits & Vegetables right into the neighborhoods where they’re needed! If we’re concerned about the ‘nutrition’ of our neighbors, why ask them to come to us. Let’s just go to them! Let’s just make it reeeaaalll easy for them to make The Good Food Choice for their own GOOD HEALTH!

“This mobile grocery store will be ‘an ice cream truck for health’” - Sara

It’ll be GOOD FOOD, Hot Health, Jobs Skills and Education all rolled into one very COOL TRUCK: chrome on chrome on stainless steel with full-color graphics, STUFFED with DELISH Organic Good Foods! It’ll make someone who has been drinkin’ Coke® and shovin’ down LAYS® say, “I’ll have some of THAT new stuff! I don’t know what it is, but anything THIS COOL has got to be the thing to do … and I’VE just got to have some of it!”

Organic Good Foods, Summertime Barbeques, cookin’ MUSIC & Star Chefs!

Honk! Honk!

And as we say, “Listen for GOOD LiViN’ comin’ down your street!”

Here’s what my Good Food BEST PAL, Miranda Taylor, Director/Driver, The Good Food Truck, wrote to her NEW Good Food Friend, First Lady Michelle Obama, about her HOT idea of how to bring healthy, affordable Organic Good Foods to an underserved Community that lacks access to GOOD FOOD, a food desert:

'First Lady Michelle Obama: Helping to Solve the Obesity Epidemic‏'
From:Miranda Taylor (TheGoodFoodTruck@hotmail.com)
Sent:Wed 6/15/11 10:46 AM
To: president@whitehouse.gov

Dear First Lady Michelle Obama:

Several months ago I had written to you with our idea of how to solve the lack of access to affordable, healthy foods in underserved Communities, food deserts, MY neighborhood. We’ve worked on our concept every day and have made a lot of progress. We have a Facebook Page, ‘The Good Food Truck’, a Twitter Account @1GoodFoodTruck, an e-mail address, TheGoodFoodTruck@hotmail.com, we have the Domain Names, TheGoodFoodTruck.com.net.org and soon will have a Web Site. All of this has been done through committed, volunteer efforts.

We are now in the fund-raising stage. But what I’m the MOST excited to share with you, is my FUN Digital Video: "The Good Food Truck." It’s a short, entertaining video that answers a serious issue that is the concern of many.

You’ll see on the last panel, ‘The Good Food Truck’ is an Official part of the National M.O.V.E. Project: Mapping Our Voices For Equality.

Hope you enjoy our original Music Tracks and Closing. Also, all the pics are ours from Events in which we’ve introduced wholesome, healthy foods.

Would LOVE to hear what you think of The Good Food Truck Project. I'm very proud of it.

Introducing The Good Food Truck
VIMEO LINK:
http://vimeo.com/24252114

The Good Food Truck Story can also be found on:
M.O.V.E on Vimeo
http://vimeo.com/channels/cppwmove

MAPPING VOICES
www.mappingvoices.org

To Your Health!
Miranda Taylor, L.Ac, EAMP, M.TCM, Dipl. Ac
The Good Food Truck™
Director/Driver
206.932.4371
MAIL: The Good Food Truck™ 6400 Sylvan Way SW, Seattle, WA 98126
E-Mail: TheGoodFoodTruck@hotmail.com
Be a Friend of ‘The Good Food Truck’ on FACEBOOK
Follow ‘The Good Food Truck’ on Twitter @1GoodFoodTruck

If you are an Organic Good Food Company and need to sell your Organic Good Foods, The Good Food Truck will be quite the MARKETING/EDUCATION POINT, so you may want to take a ride on it ‘cause a whole lot of people (your NEW customers) want The Good Food Truck in THEIR neighborhood!

To be a SUPPLIER, a PARTNER, a FEATURED FARMER, a VOLUNTEER or to DONATE, CALL or WRITE Miranda. She’d love to hear from you.

To Your Health!
Dennis L. Weaver, MBA, GFG
Founder
Change Your Food - Change Your Life!™
425.774.8971
www.ChangeYourFood.com
- & -
On the HOME Front Page
Join the Conversation
www.NaturalFoodNet.com
- Plus -
www.OrganicJazz.net
www.BigOrganicNetwork.org
Take a Ride with …
The Good Food Truck
http://vimeo.com/24252114

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