2011: The Year of Idaho Food

Year 1 of the 20% by 2020 campaign is 2011:  The Year of Idaho Food.  It is a grass-roots, year-long, statewide look at the surprising variety of foods grown in Idaho — and not simply focusing on the foods themselves, but also on the social, economic and environmental significance of those foods.

Why the Year of Idaho Food?  Co-founders Amy Hutchinson and Janie Burns realized that a robust, resilient local food system was not the work of just a few people.  It would take all of us paying attention to the food on our plate, knowing who raised it, and how it was grown.  It would mean that we become more involved in the many decisions involving our food instead of being  just passive consumers.

How to start?  Through that simple act that has served humanity for so well for so long—story telling.  The Year of Idaho Food stories, ranging from a rooftop garden at Boise State to searching for shellfish in the Snake River, chronicle our history, our present, and our future all through the lens of food.  You can read the stories at Guy Hand’s Northwest Food News  http://www.nwfoodnews.com/category/year-of-idaho-food/stories/

TVFC was collaborated in a number of events in 2011.  A January luncheon introduced community leaders to the relationship of food and our society.  Nearly 200 valley residents swapped seeds at the community seed swap in February.  Tour participants peered skyward as they learned about wind farms at the Wind and Wine Tour in July.  The College of Idaho had numerous events, culminating in a Farm to Plate dinner in October.

Symposium on Food Security

In conjunction with the Year of Idaho Food, the new Arts and Humanities Institute at Boise State sponsored a “Symposium on Food Security” in September, subtitled “Sustainable Communities: The Intersection of Food and Art.” The keynote speaker was author Gary Paul Nabhan, whose numerous books on local and indigenous foods, endangered foods and food cultures, and sustainability include Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Food (W.W. Norton, 2009), Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring The Continent’s Most Endangered Foods (Chelsea Green, 2008), and Enduring Seeds: Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant  Conservation (University of Arizona, 2002.) Nabhan shared perspectives of his vast experience and sources of inspiration (including the works of authors Allan Savory, Joan Gussow, Wendell Berry and his frenemy Barbara Kingsolver) with an enthusiastic audience, but stressed that there is “no blueprint,” and that each community needs to build its own matrix
of solutions to the issues of food security.

Other speakers included Kathy Gardner, Director of the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force; sustainable restauranteur Dave Krick, artist and architect Anne Trumble, and Idaho food writer Guy Hand.

In early October, Boise State’s annual Distinguished Lecture Series hosted Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System (HarperCollins, 2009) and The Value of Nothing (HarperCollins, 2010) among other works on economics, agriculture and social justice.

Although 2011 will be ending soon, we hope the stories of the food and the people who grow it will continue on Northwest Food News.