Sunday, January 27th, 2013...3:10 pm


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Why can’t farm laborers afford the food they grow?

How are tomatoes considered “local” in New England when they originated in South America?

How can a significant portion of the American population be obese but starving?

Why is my home county a “food desert” when much of the land is devoted to agriculture?

The food system is complex and with that complexity comes contradiction.

Over the semester I will be grappling with some of the paradoxes, contradictions, and incongruities in the food system. Some topics will make the reader feel better about the world, others will not. Some will deal with facts, some with theory, and some with both. Some will take us back in time and others will feature the morning headline. We might go personal. We might go big, like national security big.

The point of this blog is to gather and analyze some of the innumerable food system paradoxes that make us scratch our heads and furrow our brows.

Why do I bother? Well, there are a couple reasons that are really close to home for me. Literally. First of all, when I left my home in Rockbridge County, in which a plurality of the land is devoted to agricultural production, I realized I didn’t know very much about my neighbors’ farming operations or, for that matter, my own food consumption. How did I spend 20 years living between farms and never learn more than what kind of cows were munching grass beside my window? And wait a minute, why were my cafeteria-mates and myself eating meat shipped out of who-knows-where when our playground was just over the hill from a field of beef cattle?? And why, pray tell, if food is so important to our nation, were many of my neighbors struggling with finances? HMM? To top it off, last year a study out of Virginia Tech declared Rockbridge to be a food desert. How can this be?

That contradictions are so abundant in my 600 square mile county made me realize that the entire food system is full of things that don’t quite make sense. So, I dedicate this blog to teaching myself and anyone who wants to join in the ride about our paradoxical food.




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