Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

FOOD POLITICS CORNER: Monthly newsletter items for flexing our “local foods” power

Recently, I began writing a Food Politics Corner for a local newsletter. The Wild Onion Market is a food co-op being developed in Chicago. As a new member (but long-time food & farm activist), I was invited to share short & sweet news items on a monthly basis. Together with WOM’s communications team, we developed a simple but meaty template.


For more information on WOM (formerly known as Rogers Park Food Co-op but now much expanded and newly energized since they expanded their territory, rebranded, etc.):
— Website
— Facebook
— Instagram

According to the most recent newsletter (June 2021), it sounds like WOM is getting close to finding a site (near the northeast border of Chicago), serving Rogers Park/West Ridge (neighborhoods in far north Chicago) and Evanston (the first suburb outside the city). (Technically, the board has found a site, but is doing its due diligence in terms of feasibility, etc., before announcing the actual location.)


Each Food Politics Corner contains three items — Local, Regional, National — representing the intersection of “food, farms, democracy” as we relearn how to flex our “local foods” power.  Items might be:
— current article, op-ed, letter to the editor
— event announcement
— legislative alert
— new book, film, podcast, report
— historical information
— ways to connect with other “local food” activists (listservs, food policy councils)

“Local foods” power can be exercised in many ways. Here is a snapshot of components and keywords that make up Local Food Infrastructure and that might appear in the Food Politics Corner.
— food as a right
— COVID pandemic (effects of COVID on local food systems; COVID caused by food & farm policies)
— living income for all: eaters, farmers, food & farm workers
— community gardens, urban farms, home gardens
— farmers markets
— farm-to-school K-12 + early childhood (cafeteria food + working garden + food system curriculum)
— CSAs, co-ops, buying clubs
— restaurants, grocers (independent, locally owned)
— decision making: food policy councils, food committees, food plans, scientists (social + physical)
— emergency food (food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens)
— seeds, plants, garden centers (independent, locally owned)
— farmland preservation (respect for the land, open space, wilderness, soil conservation)
— regenerative farmers, land managers, and property owners (rural, suburban, urban)
— processing & distribution (wholesale warehouse, slaughterhouse, packaging, bakeries, cottage food)
— logistics: keeping the supply lines short
— waste (compost, sewage, garbage)
— season extension (greenhouse, hoophouse)
— diversified farms (food and non-food crops)
— intersectionality of local foods: health, environment, climate, economics, democracy, social + physical sciences 

In addition to posting the Food Politics Corner in the monthly WOM newsletter, I will be archiving all the items in this blog, updating every month. Here’s the first months (in reverse chronological order), beginning with April 2021.

Generally, I won’t include petitions, comment opportunities, or other mass “action” items. I don’t find such actions to be (a) impactful in terms of public power (i.e., politics) or (b) satisfying for voters (i.e., personal power). The exception to mass actions, of course, is live legislation that can be passed or defeated in real time, especially with a phone campaign. 


by Debbie Hillman

June 2021

1. LOCAL — Chicago metro
The Food Files (1982)
3 short reports commissioned by Center for Neighborhood Technology
Amazing historical snapshot of the destruction of Chicago’s local food system
16 pages total
Details, link to PDF 
Illinois Food & Farm Resources

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
East Troy, WI
–Monthly newsletter
–Federal & state policy portfolio
–On-site events: great day-trip from Chicago

Power of Food: Cultivating equitable policy through collective action
First-ever national conference for food policy councils (FPCs)
Sept. 20-22
Kansas City, MO
First FPC founded in 1982 (Knoxville, TN)
FPCs: food movement’s contribution to real democracy

May 2021
WOM Newsletter

1. LOCAL (Chicago metro)
Advocates for Urban Agriculture
Best local networking: food & farm projects, events, jobs, policy
AUA’s Google Group listserv is publicly archived: join or read without joining

2. STATE (Illinois)
Illinois Farm to School SUMMER INSTITUTE
Free, virtual, go-at-your-own pace
June 1-Aug. 15
Hosted by Seven Generations Ahead (Oak Park)
Farm-to-school programs include: 
–cafeteria food (local, healthy)
–school garden (living skills)
–food system curriculum in every grade (K-12)

Building Community Food Webs
New book by Ken Meter + Civil Eats interview
Ken has done “local food” assessments all over U.S. (incl. central Illinois)
Decades of field work + very accessible writing

APRIL 2021

1. LOCAL  (Chicago area / Illinois)
Earth Week for Everyone 2021 — Citizens Greener Evanston
April 22-24, free, Zoom
Non-Evanstonians welcome
—Climate & Soil
—Community Gardens & Black Liberation

2. MIDWEST  (12-state region)
Midwest Women’s Herbal 10th annual spring conference
Healing the Earth, the People, & the Plants
May 7-9, 2021, virtual
Keynotes by: Rosemary Gladstar, Vandana Shiva, Lyla June, more
Pricing options

3. NATIONAL  (U.S. / North America / Global)
A Long Food Movement: Transforming Food Systems by 2045
Report released March 2021
by IPES-Food: independent international panel of experts
Compares two scenarios:
—collaboration of grassroots groups, NGOs, farmers, fishers, cooperatives, unions, etc.