Food & Drink: Food Summit digs into food system

first_imgRachel Pinsky can be emailed at Follow her on Instagram @couveeats and @rachelapinsky and on Facebook @coueeats. Food doesn’t fall from the sky onto grocery store shelves. There are many different pieces (growing, processing, distribution) that form a food system. On Feb. 22, a group of 70 people from various parts of this chain met at Growing Our Future: The 2019 Food Summit hosted by the Clark County Food System Council and Clark College. A group that included farmers, educators, activists, chefs, planners and politicians met all day at Clark College’s Columbia Tech Center campus to discuss issues of local food production and distribution.During the morning session, keynote speaker Jeff Swanson simplified the concept of creating a comprehensive food system by drawing two circles on the board — one demonstrating the first mile of food production, growing the food. The other circle showed the second mile, eating the food. He summarized the two diagrams as dirt and stomach.Then, Chris Iberle of the Washington State Department of Agriculture explained the challenges to developing a local food system as fluctuations in the commodity market and trade issues, labor costs and shortages, shifting markets and a lack of affordable farm land. Opportunities include a growing population that needs to be fed, increase in vegetable acreage, and an increase in craft food businesses (restaurants, breweries) that are seeking locally grown food.Dr. Erin Anders of Walla Walla Community College summed up the challenge to everyone present. “We are all in this together. It’s up to us and the people who are part of the food system to come up with solutions,” Anders said.Gordy Euler, a retired senior planner for Clark County, explained the gaps in the planning piece of this system by drawing attention to the Growth Management Act. In his opinion, the problem is that this act required designation of agricultural lands but says nothing about protecting them. He explained, “No farm, no food.”last_img read more