Monday, April 2, 2012

Guest Post: Local Food Victories, Past, Present, and Future

And so it begins...

The Summit is off to a rousing start! We're currently convened in the Towsley Auditorium after a delicious breakfast of coffee, tea, and burrito selections. The theme this year is Local Food Victories, and the opening speech really drove home the importance of those victories by calling out the various stakeholders that benefit from them, namely everyone who eats. There is a sense of community in the room between the growers and consumers, teachers and students, professionals and processors. It's a diverse crowd that shares one important thing in common: a share in the local foodshed.

Following the opening note, Jan Longone delivered a few words as curator of the Culinary Archive in the Clements Library at the University of Michigan, then Larry Massie gave a presentation about Michigan's culinary history starting in the early 19th century. Far from being a classroom lecture, Mr. Massie's talk was very entertaining and informative. Not only did he talk about the things Michigan has been historically famous for, like the fur trade, but also some things we should be less proud of, including the hunting extinction of the passenger pigeon and the grayling fish. Mr. Massie continued through history and brought up the celery boom of Kalamazoo, the cereal boom of Battle Creek, and then ended on a note about Michigan's future.

Water, according to Mr. Massie, is Michigan's future. Our state has the greatest supply of freshwater in the nation thanks to the Great Lakes, and Lake Superior in particular. It is our responsibility and our obligation to protect that water from people, governments, and corporations that want to siphon it, pollute it, and otherwise waste our resources without paying anything back to us or the environment.

On that note, we're moving into a short break before heading into local food victories of the present. A great start to a great Summit!