Student blog of the Stanford University Urban Studies Department

The Complete Food Equation

Food movements generally have one of two purposes: they seek to address social issues on the production side or they seek to address gastronomic concerns on the consumption side. The issues are of course intertwined, but it is rare that a single group or organization tries to tackles the entire ground-to-table spectrum. The Fair Trade movement, and the Alliance for Fair Food are examples of supply-side efforts that ensure living wages for farm laborers and sustainable production practices. The Raw Food and Vegetarian movements are demand-side issues that promote health benefits, purity of ingredients and an awareness of one’s gastronomic habits.  The Slow Food Movement and the Locavore movement are unique examples that do actually examine the entire culinary process.


The Food Wheel tells you which foods are in season when. Find out more here.

In urban areas, even in suburban areas like Palo Alto, the locavore movement, which encourages people to buy ingredients that are in-season and as close to their house as possible, does not seem to be an attainable pursuit. Urban areas are defined by density and are often thought to be concrete jungles pushing out nature, including any hope for agriculture.  As urban studies majors we are, of course, aware that this is not the reality, and the most appealing cities are those that balance nature and civilization.  In urban and suburban areas alike, small farms and even large farms are not as uncommon as you might think.  The tools are there if you are interested in becoming a locavore—if only a casual iphone locavore. 

Whether your biggest concerns rest with the environment or your tastebuds, these food movements that bridge the production/consumption gap are the appropriate way to reflect on your food choices. As Slow Food founder, Carlo Petrini says, “A gastronome who is not an environmentalist is stupid. An environmentalist who is not a gastronome is boring.” So maybe he has an agenda, but the point is that just doesn’t make sense to work with only half of an equation.  



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