Minneapolis League of Women Voters hosts forum on growing local food economy

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For Minneapolis and Hennepin County residents interested in improving access to locally grown fresh foods, growing the local economy, creating more urban friendly farming policies, and enhancing environmental sustainability, the Minneapolis League of Women Voters hosted an informational forum on Thursday March 22. Nine speakers who are active in making or influencing governmental policy in the areas of health, sustainable urban agriculture, and recycling expressed how far Minneapolis has come in this arena and the work that still needs to be done.

La Donna Redmond, Senior Program Associate for Food & Justice at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy spoke passionately about food justice stating “Every community has the intellect to heal itself and get the food that it needs.” Giving a brief history of injustices in the agricultural-industrial system, she said we need to acknowledge we have never had a fair, just, or healthy food system, and we need to create one.

Mayor R. T. Rybak acknowledged how the globalization of our economy has disconnected people from the land. He stated, “We have acted like victims in a much larger industrial system. We need to empower ourselves and support local agriculture.” On a more personal level, Rybak stressed the importance of having a family dinner hour and cooking together, relics of a time when families didn’t have microwaves and such frenetically busy schedules. He also espoused the initiatives of Homegrown Minneapolis to expand our ability to grow, process, distribute, eat, and compost healthier, nutritious, and locally grown food.

Tim Browning, CEO of Eureka Recycling, highlighted the need to change the paradigm on waste from an old model of throwing away organic trash to a new model of recycling it and making rich compostable soil for farming and gardening. Progress has been made in this area, but we still have much further to go, he said.