I just returned from a remarkable event that happened right outside my home, well only 15 miles from my house — in Santa Monica. The Good Food Festival and Conference was a 5-day event designed to celebrate good food and the 30th anniversary of the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market.
The event kicked off with the anniversary celebration for the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. The market started on July 15, 1981, with just a few stalls at one market, and has grown to four markets a week that serve nearly 900,000 shoppers a year. As they say, the markets “are committed to promoting healthful eating and sustainable agriculture in California by providing fresh agricultural products from small farms to urban customers, thereby building community and preserving California farmland.”
The Conference included the Policy and Public Health Summit with panel discussions that included Public Health and Food, Good Jobs in the Food System, Growing Food In Our Neighborhoods, Best Practices for School Food, Public Policy and Food, and Public Health and Food.
The event concluded with the Good Food Festival and Street Fair held over the weekend and featured chef demonstrations, and workshops on everything from growing your own food to preserving it, and the Good Food For Thought Speakers series that covered topics such as Media and Food, Urban Farming/Homesteading, Food and Its Environmental Impact, and Fair Food: Can Good Food Be Available to Everyone?
The entire event was focused on trying to answer the question; what is good food? It has been discussed many times, in many places. I have even chimed in on what I think here on Care2. I like the definition that a sustainable or a “good” food system integrates three main goals: environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity. To that, I would add that it also improves personal health.
And the things that I have always thought were most important to making that happen were featured prominently at the conference via workshops, lectures and demonstrations. These include growing your own food, eating seasonally and locally by shopping at a farmers’ market, subscribing to a CSA or buying directly from a farm stand or farm.
What I hadn’t really considered before, but what I heard from several panels is the importance of the Good Food Movement because it represents the cutting edge of health care and it is vital to health care. The bottom line is that they are intertwined and we are never going to completely change the food system unless we change the health care system. It has taken on greater urgency with the current economic crisis and the fact that there’s no money to pay for health care and we need a cheaper health care system and good food is the answer to solving both of these issues.
The event was co-sponsored by FamilyFarmed. They have put on the same festival in Chicago. FamilyFarmed.org encourages the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food and goods.