Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Action Day 2012: The Power of We

It's Blog Action Day again! The day when bloggers all over the world post on the same topic. Last year's topic was food, as it coincided with World Food Day. This year we're bloggin' about "The Power of We."

A phrase like "the power of we" might call to mind images of political uprisings at first; flags waving in the streets, guillotines, mocking jays, that kind of thing, but the truth is that the power of a group of people to bring about change, for the better or for the worse, is evident all the time in small ways.

When we pressure each other into staying out late on a work night, or when we band together to stand in the way of letting a friend make a terrible decision about their hair color, we're proving the point that if enough people care enough about something, they can not only make it happen, but make it seem like it should happen.

It's the same way with food. The millions of people every week who just want a quick hamburger are, whether they mean to or not, telling McDonald's and its suppliers that it's OK to produce and sell food in an unsustainable manner.

Likewise, every time we make the simple choice to get informed about where our food comes from and literally put our money where our mouth is, we're having an impact, no matter how small, on how available the types of foods we want will be in the future. McDonald's might not notice if you stop going there, but your local farm stand certainly will.

That's why it was such a wonderful surprise to see the overwhelming turnout at the Boston Local Food Festival this year. The event, featuring tents where over 100 local vendors were selling samples of their food, was swarmed with over 40,000 visitors this year. That's 40,000 people who think it's important to support the local food movement. 40,000 people who decided to take the time out of their weekend to find out about local restaurants they might not have known about before, attend demonstrations on how to find, cook, and preserve local ingredients, and meet people who love this stuff as much as they do. Here are a few shots I was able to take without 40,000 heads in the way.
It really does taste different; very rich and creamy. I'll bet it makes great hot chocolate.

On a cold day like last Sunday was, there's nothing like a free sample of a hot meal.
These fish are napping after a long day at the festival.
A tutorial on the medicinal properties of some lesser-known plants

A great turnout like this means the festival will certainly happen again next year. And it might even make a crucial difference for a vendor who wasn't seeing much business, and suddenly has more exposure. That's certainly not overturning agricultural policy or anything, but it's a step in the right direction, and better still, it's proof that it's not so hard for us to come together and vote for change in small ways.

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