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A Vision for Authentic Taste and Community Health

March 1, 2009

 

TerroirDuring life’s transitions, our core values will continue to guide us and ultimately lead to growth, whether in action or in vision. I have had the honor of working with the Minnesota Project throughout its transition. I see many similarities between what has motivated me to change careers, and the ambitious growth of mission I am witnessing at the Minnesota Project.   

Just two years ago, I was a professional wine educator in the Twin Cities. I have always loved wine for the sense of place that it represents—the farmers, the landscape, and the regional history. Throughout my wine career I spoke about the merits of sustainable and organic production and how small-scale farming contributes directly to an authentic representation of the taste of the land (known to the French as terroir). Working with local chefs, I too believe that our food, when sourced locally from farmers we can name, adds to the bounty of flavors on our plates. (As supporters of the Minnesota Project the idea of terroir should sound familiar —it is the genesis of The Heartland Food Network.)

Today, I write this piece for the Centered on Sustainability Blog from Berkeley where I am working toward a master’s degree in Public Policy. The world is changing quickly, and many of the issues that inspired me to make this career change (to local foods and sustainable agriculture) are merging with other global issues and opportunities. Renewable energy and community-level economic growth opportunities lie at the core of research and development both here in California and in most progressive, proactive states and nations around the globe. The Minnesota Project is a recognized leader, and its recent merging of policy efforts in agriculture, energy and food speaks to the wisdom of this organization.  

What leads us to change? Why do we act, and what motivates us to contribute (our energy, our time, or our dollars)? I would venture to guess that it is our desire to leave a world for future generations that is as good or better than the one we ourselves experience. 

Speaking for myself, I am inspired by possibility (healthy foods for all, clean energy, vibrant communities) and I will do what I can to make it a reality.  In my previous profession, many lamented the loss of terroir in mass-produced modern wines. I am thrilled to report that because consumers and regional winemakers spoke out, the past several years have seen a dramatic shift back to traditional winemaking and the flavors of place are re-emerging. So, too, can we begin to see the health of our communities restored with shifts in our energy, food, and farming policies and practices.

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