By Don Bustos
First published in Green Fire Times.
The subject of food and growing food is very political, and has social and cultural impacts. In New Mexico, although there are a number of organizations working on issues related to food systems, few have had the awareness to include social justice in their mission or to fully take into account the impact of their work on ranchers, farmers, distributors and consumers.
Over the next few months in a series of articles in Green Fire Times, I will explore this volatile subject: our traditional food systems vs. the predominant food system, within the context of sustainable agriculture. There are several areas of disagreement on what role agriculture or sustainable agriculture plays and how important it is to our food security in the region. How important is our local food, and to what extent do state and federal governments have influence over the food production?
I will discuss agribusiness and its food production methods. I think a review that compares this approach, which encourages a large and a centralized food system, with the alternative—a regional food or local food system—is in order.
There are many other relevant issues I will also discuss. There are divisions between traditional and new farmers. There are growing systems that clash with available water distribution. There are markets that don’t plan for growth, and large markets that don’t know how to support farmers in meeting the demand for their products. There are food safety issues that feel like an attack to eliminate small growers.