What’s on your plate?
By Phil Jones
The question “What’s on your plate?” can mean different things to different people, but two thoughts usually come to mind when I’m asked this question or hear it asked of others: What we have to do or what do we have to eat.
Both are compelling interpretations that deserve some thought.
It is the mission of the DFPC (Detroit Food Policy Council) to engage the community on both and we take that seriously. What you eat for dinner and what is on your mind are at the core of our activities. So the DFPC is getting ready to launch an exciting season of programming that looks to the community for its content and direction.
We have many food issues before us that require action and we are asking the community to guide our efforts.
Some of the issues that we know need attention include healthy food access for all, nutrition education, land use and urban farming, which on the surface doesn’t seem exceptionally noteworthy, but they have and will continue to impact us all.
Many came out to this year’s food summit and said the development of a “food finder” should be explored. We heard frank discussion around who sells food to us and our families and whether their priorities are our priorities. The conversation was honest and moving. Many said the relationship between consumer and merchant needs work. Some points may have been hard to agree on, but the words needed to be said and heard.
Additionally, we have begun fleshing out community thoughts on what our stores should look like and what benefits we should expect from their presence. We started talking about ordinances that affect our ability to determine our use of the land we are so fully invested in, here in Detroit. Questions on food sovereignty were raised, but we owe the topic more time.
It became very apparent that our needs are great, and the DFPC is here to facilitate that expression of these needs and others that have yet to be explored. The DFPC is the community’s voice, but we need you to get involved. Join us in our efforts to expand the conversations around food, and let us know where your priorities are.
Equally as important is what we are eating. We want to know where you get what you eat. We want to find out whether it is healthy, easily obtained and reasonably priced. Is what we’re eating all that it should and could be? Are we sourcing the items for our meals from local producers? Are we getting the best nutritional bang for our buck?
These are all very involved subjects, and the DFPC needs your input. Over the next several months, you will be able to voice your opinions in a series of events designed to fully engage you in a thoughtful manner. We will be coming to you to hear what’s on your mind. This is your time, and this is your council.
At this year’s summit, people asked how they could eat better, how could they learn about more healthful methods of preparing classic recipes? And where could they get tasty substitutes for the fat-laden, artery-busting foods that are so readily available at the most convenient stores?
Our youth asked questions, too. We heard them say they want good food and want to become more involved in making it even more accessible. The youth were inspiring. They’re even growing their own food. They wanted to know why more adults aren’t doing the same. It’s clear they have strong opinions on how our food system should look.
Many folks just wanted to know what our food system is. Therefore, we will continue our Food System 101 leading up to next year’s summit, and will allow you the opportunity to get to know more about Detroit food and just how our food system is built.
There will also be conversations around how you can take advantage of new cottage food laws. So if you are trying to launch a food product, you can find the resources needed to fully explore your dreams. Food is more than nutritious. It’s profitable, too.
Let us hear your questions and concerns. The DFPC wants to know, “What’s On Your Plate?”
Join us as we gear up for the 2013 summit, Detroit Food, this coming spring, April 11-13, 2013. Save the date!
Phil Jones is the chair of the DFPC, chef / general manager of COLORS, in Paradise Valley and the owner of Jones Urban Foods. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org