In my experience people I could not disagree with more about theology and/or politics find common ground when I talk about food issues. The Slow Food Nation blog put this into words I’ve been searching for:
In my experience, most grassroots food and small farming efforts are decidedly non-partisan in nature. Politics only reluctantly enters into the equation, often in the struggle over food safety regulations and land tenure.
For many who are concerned about food it is mostly a personal issue that involves their family’s health. While this is a starting point for building a movement on common ground it is not enough to make the changes it seeks.
By some measure, the Local Food Revolution is deeply libertarian in its implicit attitudes — personal choices good, government bad. Foodies don’t want to get involved in the messy political process — particularly if it involves challenging the power of a few agribusiness corporations and a handful of rich farmers who currently control agriculture policy.
In the past, most of our political effort has gone into stopping particular USDA initiatives and in trying to influence the Farm Bill every five years. This strategy while good as far as it goes, is not up to the challenge before us.
So, now what? We’ve got a movement to build for self-reliant communities. The author quotes Michael Shuman,
The goal of a self-reliant community, however, is not to create a Robinson Crusoe economy in which no resources, people or goods enter or leave. A self-reliant community simply should seek control over over its own economy as far as is practical.
The author ends with this,
I propose we organize a political movement — intentionally and broadly — including health care, energy, education, and economic development in the equation as well as local food — around re-localization of the economy. This is not a new idea. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has pursued this vision for at least three decades…Re-localization builds on the deep libertarian roots of the Local Food Revolution while challenging the global economic paradigm in a non-partisan, bi-partisan way.
Now… the question is “What does that look like?” and “How does it happen?” I’ve struggled with how change happens for a long time. I do know one thing for sure… Change never happens by accident.