Food Circles Networking Project

The goal of a Food Circle is to develop a community-based, sustainable food system by reshaping the relationships that surround food.  Our dominant food system is globalized and industrialized, while Food Circles seek to create a personalized and sustainable food system.  The Food Circle philosophy is built on four fundamental principles borrowed from Green thinking and systems theory.

Ecological Wisdom:  Our food should be grown, shipped and eaten in a manner that respects the Earth’s resources and protects the environment for ourselves and future generations.

Social Justice:  The farmers and workers who grow and process our food deserve a fair return for their labor.  Every member of a community should have access to healthy, wholesome food regardless of income.

Grassroots Democracy: Control over our food should rest with us.  Decisions about who grows our food, where and how it is grown, and who gets to eat should not be left with transnational corporations but rather should be up to communities and the people in those communities.

Non-violence:  The animals who provide us food and fiber should be treated humanely, just as the farmers and laborers who grow and process our food should be treated with respect and dignity.

People who form Food Circles understand the food system as highly complex and interconnected.  In the past, we have created food systems that are linear and hierarchical, firmly separating farmers and eaters from each other.  From the Food Circle perspective, we are all interconnected in multiple ways and the food system should reflect this by forming a circle, representative of a holistic system.  Within a Food Circle, farmers are as important as eaters, grocers, chefs and processors because all are involved in the creation and consumption of food.  Thus, everyone enters the circle at one point and maintains connections to other food system actors through the circle.

In sum, a Food Circle is about knowing the person who grows our food or who eats the food we grow.  It is about developing personalized relationships with others in your community around food.

Food Circle members do a variety of things to try to bring about this vision of a holistic food system.  First, members of a Food Circle dialogue daily with others about the consequences of our food consumption choices.  Preparing and serving “personalized” food – where one knows the name of the farmer for every ingredient – to family and friends is a first step in creating a dialogue about what kind of food future we desire.  Another action is to collect and give out information on the availability of local foods. 

If one wants to eat “local”, then one must know where to buy that food.  One of the most important actions that Food Circles can take is to provide a “space” where farmers and eaters can meet in a community setting.  Community potlucks where farmers and eaters discuss the year’s harvest and plan for new ones allow a social setting for people to get to know each other.  Church picnics and potlucks are wonderful ways to get farmers, processors, grocers, eaters and others together. 

There are numerous other ways to get involved in local food systems on an individual and community level.  The important point is to make sure all our actions regarding food and farming respect the interconnection of all life and are consistent with the four fundamental principles of Green thought.

Questions, comments: Mary Hendrickson
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