Our interest in the food system was born from frustration and hope experienced over the past decade. Frustration from the inability to effectively get beyond the debate and denial of the presence of a warming climate and what should be done about it. Hope from observing the way in which small New England farms are able to confer health, economic, and environmental benefits on their communities by directly connecting with their consumers and their communities.
Food connects us all, regardless of race, income or geography. It is something with which we must all interact daily. It impacts the health of our bodies and our environment. Yet, it is increasingly understood that our current food system is not promoting public health or environmental sustainability.
Some of our greatest health challenges today can be connected to our food system. Indeed, forecasts project U.S. obesity rates exceeding 50% of the country by 2030, which, in turn, will likely lead to alarming rates of diseases, increased costs to the health care system, and significant loss of productivity.
Additionally, the agricultural sector is the second highest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. We are already experiencing increased volatility in our weather patterns that are predicted in a warming climate. The flooding and droughts we are experiencing are further challenging the resiliency of our food system.
For a number of years, interest in and demand for fresh, locally grown and produced food has been increasing all across America. In responding to and meeting this demand, local farms have been able to increase the amount of food that can stay local, improve healthy food choices, improve local economies, and when done sustainably, improve the positive impacts on the planet.
Thus, by engaging consumers through their interest in healthier, locally-grown food, there is a strong opportunity to build a stronger regional food system that can result in the improved health of people, communities, economies, and the environment.
Inspiring leaders are working throughout the region to ensure access to local, affordable and healthy food for all. We look forward to joining and contributing to this effort with a focus on New England.