Chicago is poised to be the first city in the nation to pass a resolution for a healthier, more sustainable food system. Last week Chicago’s Energy, Environmental Protection and Public Utilities Committee presented a proposal to the city council called the “green food resolution”. It is a nonbinding initiative that encourages the city to help make fresh, locally grown food available to Chicagoans.
“BE lT RESOLVED, that the Chicago City Council encourages individuals, civic associations, and community based organizations to grow local, organic gardens, and institutions and businesses to offer more plant based foods; and
BE lT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Chicago City Council promotes the expansion of the number of Farmers’ Markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, community gardens, and other venues which provide healthful plant based foods.”
Although this uplifting rhetoric is making no promises, I believe it has the potency and the ability to motivate politicians to support the necessary task of building a sustainable food infrastructure.
Local governments across the country are working to pass similar resolutions, New York City isn’t far behind Chicago. Why is this all happening? We have the folks that are running a campaign by Farm Sanctuary, a farm animal protection organization, to thank. Local-food legislation is spreading like wildfire, right in time to start stimulating local economies all over the nation.
In Illinois for example, we have extremely progressive policies being pushed at the city and state level. In Springfield the Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act of 2009 has already passed unanimously through the House of the Illinois General Assembly, and is on its way to being signed by the governor. State Rep. Julie Hamos saw the vision, wrote the legislation, and rallied support like a champion. The real (unsung) heroes of this inspiring new legislation? The Illinois Local & Organic Food & Farm Task Force. They are a group made up of urban and rural farmers and gardeners, that acted as a cohesive sphere of stimulation for not only the State Representatives but also to State Senator Jackie Collins, and well, for all gardeners and farmers within the state.
While the pressure from Monsanto and big agriculture’s oppressive and damaging practices may be weighing down on us, I think is also important to look at how far we, as a people’s movement have come. It’s always a treat to realize that what Ms. Mead said is manifesting around you, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”