Puget Sound Food Network Connects Locally Grown Food to Institutional Markets

June 9-12, Amanda Behrens and I journeyed to Missoula, Montana for the joint annual meetings of the Agriculture Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS), Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) and the Society for Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN). The conference, entitled Food and Agriculture Under the Big Sky: Peoples, Partnerships, Policies, was impressively diverse in its attendees and covered subject matter.

University of Montana campus, where the conference was held

University of Montana campus, where the conference was held

For each session, conference goers had ten choices of roundtables, panels, workshops, or individual paper presentations to choose from. I was constantly torn between attending sessions on subjects I work on or learning about something totally new – Feminism, Labor and Justice or Adaptations to Climate Change? Food Choice and Identity in the Nineteenth Century or Pursuing Poultry Practicalities? While each choice meant missing many others, I was learning and impressed in every session by the presenters. They all brought with them their unique approaches to food systems issues, as theorists, students, policymakers, advocates, and on-the-ground change makers.

I was particularly drawn to one roundtable: Equity, Health & Regional Food Economies: The Power of Institutional Markets. Sourcing healthy local food to institutions has always struck me as an equally daunting and vital task in improving local food systems. I have imagined taking on that task to mean navigating complex power structures and bureaucracies, permits, vested interests of corporate food sources, distribution jargon, etc. So I was excited to hear what the speakers had to say. Read More >