Where does your food come from? For many of us, the answer is a grocery store or restaurant. In the United States, food is so conveniently accessible that we rarely pause to ponder where it was grown or the journey it has taken to get to our pantries, fridges and bellies.
I visited the Children’s Museum of South Dakota a few years ago and was so impressed by the interactive exhibit they had called The Prairie Farm. It teaches kids about the foods they eat and how it is grown and harvested. The Prairie Farm is connected to the Market Fresh Grocery exhibit where kids see the connection between the food grown on the farm and what they shop for in the store. Even as an adult, I appreciated the reminder that food does not just arrive on my plate.
By living in cities, we are often disconnected from agriculture or food production. We might admire the fields of wheat blowing in the breeze as we drive across the Midwest or recite the “knee-high by the Fourth of July” refrain in reference to corn. For many of us, though, that’s as much thought as we give it.
We don’t think about what we don’t see. So when we don’t see food anywhere but our plates, we don’t give it much thought. There’s no prompt for us to think or talk about food beyond what’s for dinner that night. Through urban agriculture initiatives, I hope we can change this and have richer conversations about food and food production in our local community.
Urban agriculture initiatives spark more opportunities for conversations about food. Whether we’re trading tips on growing the best tomatoes or explaining to our kids how food travels to us, having more conversations about food is important for our community. Seeing a boulevard garden or hearing the cluck of a backyard chicken just might be the nudge we need to have more conversations. Maybe we’ll talk about sustainable farming practices, or renewing a commitment to purchasing locally grown food, or how to ensure that all our neighbors have access to food. Whatever we talk about, I hope it’s more than answering the question, “What’s for dinner?”
Thank you to the supporters of local urban agriculture initiatives. I hope to see the efforts and conversations continue to flourish.