9 Meals from Anarchy
There are only three days standing between us and widespread hunger.
Imagine this. A war breaks out and the transport of gasoline to the United States halts, or a blockade is put up around a city and no trucks are able to pass in or out. Or a hurricane like Katrina in 2005 once more devastates an entire region. How long until chaos breaks out?
According to the head of the UK's Countryside Agency, Lord Cameron of Dillington, the world is only three days or "9 meals from anarchy."
Supermarkets only carry three days worth of food supply for a city at all times. They can't handle more and, as a result, the lifeline of urban epicenters read 72 hours and counting down. This is what happens when the food system is heavily dependent on food located thousand of miles away—one kink in the machine and the whole thing falls apart.
So, what can we do about it?
"My biggest story is honoring a lifestyle that honors what we're being given; knowing that what we're being given is being given to us so that we can flourish."
- Tim Page, Founder of FEED Sonoma
Tim Page grew up in Orange County, California during the 1970s, when you could still find fruit groves and crop rows around every block. He lived in Irvine, one of the first planned neighborhoods in America, promising stable living and family values with every factory-perfect home.
"I remember being driven to my soccer games and there would be these fields of asparagus," Page says. "And I'd wonder to myself: why are they burning that?"
Growing up in suburbia, Page says he was groomed for much of his life to be a perfectly normal salary man, working 9-to-5s and worrying about his 401k. But after a turn of events, he founds himself embarking for Hawaii—a trip that would transform his life.
In Hawaii, Page immersed himself in the indigenous culture and wisdom. He encountered numerous lessons about sustenance, nature, and finding meaning in life. With those same lessons taken to heart, Page returned to California years later with a new mission in mind.
"I want to steward something for the next generation," Page says. "Everyday I set out to create a food system that honors what is given to us and make it better for those who come after."
And his answer to this mission was FEED Sonoma, a distribution company that transports foods from Sonoma County farms to surrounding restaurants and markets. For them, it's all about eating local.
We've all heard that eating local is better, but why is it so important?
Walk into your local grocery superstore and look around. Most of those fruits and vegetables will have traveled an average of 1,500 miles to get to the crate they're sitting in. That 1,500 miles—for each bundle of asparagus, for each box of strawberries, and for each head of cabbage—has wild repercussions on the environment, our health, and the community wallet.
But here are 3 major benefits to eating locally grown food:
1. Supporting the Local Economy
When you purchase food from a farmers market or subscribe to a CSA (community supported agriculture), you are putting money directly into the farmer's hands. You eliminate the middlemen who take up to 85 cents out of every dollar spent at a supermarket, leaving farmers with a 15% or less.
And the money spent at a farmers market continues to circulate in the local economy. Research by The New Economics Foundation found that when purchasing food straight from a farmer versus a supermarket, twice the money stayed in the community when people bought local produce. Local farms are more likely to purchase from local businesses, and the cycle continues.
2. More Delicious and Nutritious
Imagine the difference between eating a ripe banana that was picked a day ago versus a week ago. That's the difference in taste and nutrients of local food versus food that has been shipped from hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.
When you buy a banana from a local farmer, the banana has had the opportunity to reach full ripeness before being harvested. A banana from Costa Rica, however, has no such luxury. International bananas are harvested when they're still green, meaning they lack the nutrients and freshness of true ripeness.
This goes for all distant produce: their potential nutrition and health benefits are sacrificed for the many miles of travel and the few cents you might save at the store.
3. Safer Environment and Food Supply
Non-local food travels far. Travel means oil and oil means pollution. Every year, the average American consumes about 400 gallons of oil for their food alone. In oil usage, our food is a close second to our cars.
And all those miles traveled to get one bunch of grapes (5,900 miles from Chile to Los Angeles) leaves our food vulnerable to contamination.
Eating local gets rid of these risks that have the potential to devastate in the short and long term, and creates a more reliable food source (remember those 9 days from anarchy?)
"A kuleana is your calling. It's who you are. It's your responsibility to your society.
- Tim Page, Founder of FEED Sonoma
Page's kuleana, or life calling, is to steward a food system for children to inherit. A food system that is more stable, more efficient, and less devastating to the environment and the people who rely on it. The first step was building FEED Sonoma and a community who was open to cherishing local foods.
"I've witnessed in the growth of our FEED community that you can make a drastic effect in a short amount of time as long as you're humble and willing to do the work," Page says.
According to Page, FEED Sonoma has proved a thriving success. In the past four years, they've grown to 4 trucks and 55 farms. They have created a space for themselves inside not only the Sonoma community but in the food industry. FEED Sonoma is a testament to a new for-profit model where business can be ethical and beneficial to all those involved: farmers, customers, employees, and even the produce itself.
Whether or not FEED Sonoma will continue to endure and prove more than just a blip in history, Page isn't certain. But even still, he's optimistic.
"FEED Sonoma is a case study," Page says. "Is it going to work? I have no idea. But I can't look into my kids' eyes and not feel like we're going to figure it out."
What is your kuleana?
To learn more about how you can eat local, visit
Up next, Chapter Five: Eat Tech
Lisa Fetterman loves food. Really loves food. And with her startup, she's bringing that love of food to everyone. Meet the Nomiku, a handheld device that brings the cooking technique of sous vide—which was formally reserved for high-end restaurants—to the everyday kitchen...more