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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Oran Hesterman publishes book on sustainable food system for all

Oran Hesterman believes our food system is broken.

He said he believes that it is in desperate need of redesign. He said he believes many Americans are unaware of their part in this broken food system. The good news? He said he believes we can fix the system.

In his new book, "Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All," Hesterman details the problems with our system and offers solutions on how to fix what he sees as a problem greater than what we eat. He points out that our problem stems from the way our food is produced, packaged and delivered.

"I wrote the book Fair Food' to help people become engaged citizens in the fair food movement," he said. "I wrote it so people can look beyond the refrigerator to see how much change they can make."

The former Santa Cruz resident is the president and CEO of Fair Food Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the amount of healthy, fresh and sustainable food system.

Hesterman lives in Michigan, where he served as the food director for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and taught forage and crops systems management, sustainable agriculture and leadership development at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.

After studying at UC Santa Cruz in the 1970s, he transferred to UC Davis, where he earned his bachelor's degree in plant sciences and master's degree in agronomy.

Yet, it was his time in Santa Cruz that jump-started his career in researching and reporting on agriculture and food systems.

Although Hesterman transferred to UC Davis before getting his diploma in Santa Cruz, his experiences at UCSC shaped his career. "Well as you probably know I have strong roots in Santa Cruz, being a student there in the '70s." Hesterman said. "I helped break ground on some vegetable gardens that are still there today."

Hesterman was one of the first students to be involved with the UCSC vegetable gardens. He broke ground on The Farm in 1970, which has since been renamed the Alan Chadwick Garden. "That [the garden] really propelled me into this career," he said. "Being in harmony with nature and with each other has been the focus throughout my career."

Many Santa Cruz residents are familiar with the term "buying local" as it gained in local popularity far before the economic downturn.

Along with buying local comes farmers markets, organic products and a special connection between the consumer and grower.

Hesterman said he believes that buying local is not enough to change our broken food system.

In his book, he gives instruction on how to make changes in a larger way than by simply buying from a local farmer, which he emphasizes as still being important.

He said he wants readers to see beyond actions such as buying locally and to think about how many inner-city residents don't have access to the fresh vegetables and fruits those in suburbs and rural areas have.

The result, he said, is a inner-city child who is uneducated about healthy eating and only able to access unhealthy food.

Hesterman said he hopes his book guides those looking to help on a larger level by acting in local ways.

"I would love readers to read with an understanding that while our food system is broken in many ways, it is a system we know how to fix," he said. "There are opportunities for people to get involved on many levels, from their own home to communities to the places they worship to policies on the local and national level."

While his book contains facts and details about those living in areas without fresh food, his book offers solutions to the problems he sees. "My book provides dozens of resources if people are interested in engaging in fair food systems," he said.

posted by CASFS 2006 @ 9:25 PM

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