Citizens Network for Michigan Food Democracy  
  Citizens Network for Michigan Food Democracy  
  Citizens Network for Michigan Food Democracy  
Citizens Network for Michigan Food Democracy
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Key Concepts and FAQs

Clarity in thinking, which is reflected in clear use of language, is one of the prime requirements for good communication. We seek to practice both in the key concepts and FAQs that we present below.

We see this section as an evolving one - where we will be adding materials based on your comments and suggestions as well as on our own discussions.

The first three of our key concepts are taken from The Albion Statement . As noted there, they are working definitions. The other concepts indicate their source. If you would like to comment on them or suggest additional key concepts or ask a question, please contact: concepts@mifooddemocracy.org.

The same applies to the "frequently asked questions" (FAQs) that are included below. We are starting with those that people ask us regularly. However, we are sure that there are many other important ones. So, please send them to us and we'll do our best to answer them - as well as consider including them.

Food Democracy: Democracy is the process of ordinary people coming together as citizens to deliberate and devise ways to improve their communities and society. Through trial and error they also expand their knowledge, skills, and political and moral awareness. To expand the small circles of food democracy found in today's world, many more of us must:
  • Recognize that all aspects of policy-making for food and farming are political - something large corporations have long realized.
  • Educate ourselves and others about the structures of power and influence in food and farming systems.
  • Band together democratically so that citizens can ensure that food and farming serve public rather than just private interests.
  • Ensure that food and farming systems at all levels are accountable to people, responsible to communities and the environment, and socially just.
Related FAQs:

Coming Soon

Sustainability as it applies to food means that societies pass on to future generations all the elements required to provide healthy food on a regular basis: healthy and diverse environments (soil, water, air, and habitats); healthy, diverse, and freely reproducing seeds, crops, and livestock; and the values, creativity, knowledge, skills, and local institutions that enable societies to adapt effectively to environmental and social changes.

Related FAQs:

Coming Soon

Self-reliance is the process whereby communities, regions, and states build, maintain, enhance, and largely control their social and economic capabilities and resources. It is based on cooperation and a sense of belonging - both to place and community.

Related FAQs:

Q. Does food self-reliance mean no coffee (or no bananas)?
No. It means that we will have to gradually adjust and prioritize our eating preferences as the full energy, environmental, social, and health costs of our foods are incorporated into their prices - thus more closely reflecting their real costs.

Q. How does local self-reliance relate to state or federal government?
A. As long as there is a careful and democratic balancing of the role of each, relevant roles for each level can be worked out. However, there is a need to expand concepts of federalism to more fully include the natural world - something that we call ecofederalism.

Food Systems exist and interact from the household to the neighborhood, to the community, to the regional, and on up to the international level. The specialized structure of our thinking and our society forces us to describe these systems in terms of their components, which include: 1) the inputs and processes for growing food; 2) the distribution of food; 3) the preparation and preservation of food; 4) access to food, its uses, and the healthiness of food and diets; 5) the recycling, composting, and disposal of food wastes; and 6) support systems - which vary by level - such as natural and social systems, as well as more specific legal, research, extension, food safety, marketing, transportation, distribution, and storage systems.

This definition is adapted from an article by Ken Dahlberg (see Resources).

Related FAQs:

Coming Soon

Community Food Security is provided by sustainable, local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for all people at all times.

This is the definition developed by the Community Food Security Coalition in its efforts "to develop self-reliance among all communities in obtaining their food and to create a system of growing, manufacturing, processing, making available, and selling food that is regionally based and grounded in the principles of justice, democracy, and sustainability."

Related FAQs:

Coming Soon

Renewable Biomass should be defined as "Agricultural grain, root, and cellulosic crops and forest products used for producing fuels that are grown and managed using sustainable practices that:
  1. minimize air, water and greenhouse gas pollution, and
  2. enhance the regeneration of soils, habitat, and biodiversity in and around the production sites."
This definition, developed by Ken Dahlberg, needs to become a fundamental part of efforts to protect the sources of our food from over exploitation, pollution, and loss. Current approaches seek to substitute unsustainable biomass production systems for unsustainable fossil fuels, especially for transport and electric energy production. This threatens not only our soils, habitats, air and water quality, but the availability of cropland for food.

Related FAQs:

Q. Why this emphasis on "renewable biomass."
A. Because we need to recognize that it is only if we sustain over the coming decades the sources of our food and/or biomass - clean air, water, and healthy soils as well as genetically diverse habitats, plants and livestock - that they can truly be called "renewable."

Q. How do biomass and biofuels relate to the longer term energy needs of Michigan and the U.S.?
A. Clearly, they need to be part of a larger multi-sectoral strategy to: 1) reduce energy (and resource) use by redesigning, integrating, and localizing our transportation, housing, urban, manufacturing, and farming systems ; 2) increase energy efficiency; and 3) maintain and enhance biological and cultural diversity.