Food, the most basic of human needs, is easily taken for granted in a society of abundance. We too easily forget that history is littered with examples of societies who were not able to adapt how they feed themselves to changing conditions—whether that be persistent drought or economic upheaval. A better future is not guaranteed, and increasingly we are unable to use the past as a reliable guide for what is to come.
The goal of the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan is to ‘future proof’ how food travels from farm to table. Future proofing is the process of insulating ourselves, as much as possible, from the vagaries of an uncertain future—in essence, to be more resilient. In the food and farming sector, these uncertainties are huge.
When planning for our future, we must ask:
- Will the past continue to be a good indicator for how much rainfall we see each year?
- Will global markets remain stable and growing, or will our attitudes and policies about trade change?
- Will the trend towards increased income disparity overwhelm our safety net of programs and services?
- Will attitudes about immigration and diversity make finding workers for the food sector possible?
In creating this action plan, we believe we can increase prosperity and health across the community and insulate ourselves from future uncertainties by making strategic investments in the food system. This would have a positive, cyclical effect that looks something like this:
- Providing more access to good food and better information creates healthier people who make positive choices for themselves and their families.
- This in turn creates well-nourished workers who are better able to support a vibrant food system, bringing more resources to the community.
- And this in turn allows people to become better stewards of the natural resources that support our health.