I tend to do things on a grand scale: my life goals include not merely viewing the Grand Canyon, but hiking from the north rim to the south rim. My “think big” perspective drives nearly all of my behavior. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have the patience to let things develop on a small scale, but rather that I actually never consider anything on a small scale.
But others have called me on this. Duncan Hilchey, the editor of the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, has correctly suggested that I more carefully consider the role of community gardens in feeding low income households in Manhattan, NY. JC Dwyer wrote to me about one of my blog postings, and suggested that instead of thinking about feeding hungry people or farming sustainability as an “either or” situation, that we should consider interim steps that are not as fraught with conflict. He makes two great suggestions along these lines. One, we start adopting more sustainable farming practices incrementally. Two, we put serious effort into developing metrics that allow us to measure different aspects of the food system: access or sustainability. In my opinion, such metrics are essential BUT are extremely difficult to define. In fact, doing so would make a great doctoral dissertation for the right student/advisor team (anyone interested??).
For the remaining days of this year, I am going to try to think about food and take food steps on a small scale. I feel pretty successful with my first try: when my father and I shopped for the Christmas dinner we’ll prepare together, he bought an organic roast. Not that I will eat it. After watching the humane cow harvesting scene in Small Farm Rising, I have vowed to not eat meat products. But my 80+ year old dad bought the organic roast and he will cook it, and my extended family will eat it. That, to me, that is a huge success measured in terms of one meal.
That aside, I doubt I will make a full conversion from thinking on a big scale to thinking in small increments. I don’t want to. But thinking this way for the remaining 10 days of the year might be ok.