A big takeaway from this year’s Go Big Read book, The Poison Squad, is keeping consumers informed on what is being put into their food through adequate labeling. For quite some time, Madison, and a lot of Wisconsin as well, has been making huge efforts in the local/ pure food movement, focusing on supporting local farms and food producers and knowing where your food came from.
Here are three food movement groups/organizations that have had a large impact throughout the state of Wisconsin
REAP Food Group: Founded in 1997 as the Dane County Research, Education, Action and Policy on Food Group, the now REAP Food group works to “grow healthful, just, and sustainable local food systems- meaning good food, grown well is accessible to all.”
Their primary focus is to connect consumers directly to the farmers that produce their food; their website has a list of local farms, businesses, restaurants, and farmers markets that sell directly to consumers. REAP Food Group has also started programs like Farm to School and Farm to Business. These programs do just as their names suggest; they provide farm fresh food to schools throughout Madison and connect restaurants and businesses with local farms, promoting the use of local and sustainable food.
Slow Food (UW & Madison group): Though this is a national organization with different chapters throughout the country, the Slow Food UW and Madison chapter were among the first community and campus, Slow Food chapters.
Slow Food UW, in its practices, focuses on the right to food, sustainability, transparency, community, culture, and equity, making quality, local food available to everyone. Once a week, both Slow Food UW and Slow Food Madison put on their own respective dinners with local products and share those meals with the broader community at a reasonable price. For the Slow Food organization, the focus is not only on the quality of food, but also on the experience that you have while enjoying it.
Dane County Farmers’ Market: If you have ever been around the capitol square on a Saturday between April and November, then you have at least witnessed the large crowds of people heading to the Dane County Farmers’ Market.
The market was started in 1972 by the then Madison mayor, Bill Dyke, to bring together the urban and rural people of Wisconsin. Today, the market is a convenient opportunity to buy fresh, local products directly from the people who grew/ produced them (as well as getting as many free cheese curd samples as possible). With the mission to promote the sale of Wisconsin-grown products and educate consumers of the benefits of locally grown and prepared food, the Dane County Farmers’ Market is currently the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country. Since the market started in 1972, there has been one rule that has been continually enforced; the products must be Wisconsin grown.
Supporting local food movements not only helps Wisconsin farmers and producers, but knowing where your food comes from also keeps you from asking, “I wonder what’s in it.”
Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office