Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sustainable Food Conference, An Eye Opening: Hope for the Future.

I was at first shocked and surprised then encouraged by the distribution of attendees at the Food Security Conference. This week in Des Moines is a series of three international food conferences. The first one 'From Commodity to Community' the 13th Annual Community Food Security Conference, began Saturday 10/10 and will run through Tuesday 10/13. The first day was taken up with field trips to see the state of agriculture in Iowa. Today began with everyone at a breakfast plenary session setting the tone for the conference. But that is not what this first blog is about.

What I noticed, and as I interviewed many people, I found I wasn't the only one to notice, was that there was a bi-modal distribution of ages. Almost everyone fell into two age groups, either 20-32 or over 50. This made me wonder both about why and then what it means for the sustainable food movement. I talking to several attendees, the consensus seemed to be that those over fifty were motivated by the various movements of the sixties and early seventies. These participants felt that they had maintained their drive to improve and save the world. One women expressed despair that here 28 year old daughter was working for a defense contractor and felt having a nicer car and clothes was all she wished for. The older group was after almost four years seeing a new younger generation get enthusiastic about their causes.

The missing group, the doughnut hole, of those between 32 and 50 that were glaringly absent. To a person the attendees felt they were products of the me generation. The generation that went through high school and college and then entered the work force during the late seventies through the ME eighties and into the corporate boom of the nineties. They never got that spark of as the jewish religion says 'Tachun-o-lum', Repair the World. Fortunately, the generation to follow got the bug.

So what does this mean for the sustainable food movement. Well, the movement will survive and thrive. The young blood was both excited and enthusiastic. I saw a movement that has a new strong base that will work hard to move the movement forward. However it will be another ten to fifteen years till this momentum will cause a major shift in public opinion. That fifteen years will though have lots of small victories. Those who have been fighting this battle for four decades can be encouraged that there is a new generation who will take their fight to it succesful conclusion.

No comments:

Post a Comment