Here’s some good news.
The Milwaukee Public Schools are starting to feed their students fresh greens from Will Allen’s urban farm, Growing Power.
Why is that good news? It closes the loop on local food.
Here’s what this feedback loop looks like:
- Smarts for the future. Community supported urban farmers work with local schools to teach kids how food is grown.
- $$ that stay local. Local public school lunch programs are encouraged to buy local ingredients.
- Health and an appreciation for good food. Kids eat high quality local food that they participated in growing.
We need lots of virtuous loops like this.
NOTE: It’s too bad that it took so long to get this done due to red tape and regulations that locked schools into buying only from big corporate providers.
Mapping Local Food
Here’s something cool. It’s a map by Patrick Jones of his town’s food commons.
Click on it to see it in all of its detail.
As you can see, it’s rich and detailed and complicated. It’s also something that would probably be much easier to build if was done using:
- Google maps.
- Smart phones (2.3 billion people are on the Web and 5 billion use cell phones).
- Community sourcing (when everyone in the community added a bit to the map and updated when needed).
Anyway, we can expect to see more maps like this in the future as food becomes more ubiquitous in our communities. Remember Todmorden’s egg map and how easy it made finding people with extra eggs to sell?
Long term, finding the ingredients for dinner might be as easy as using a smart phone to find the shortest path between sources of ripe and available food. Or, if your kids need a snack, they’ll head outside and find some local Apples (like the good old days, but with a smart phone/map update).
PS: Will Allen’s book The Good Food Revolution is about growing urban food and the motivation it takes to live a meaningful life.