Fair Food

by Oran B. Hesterman

Reviewed September 2011 by Phil Korman, CISA Executive Director

Oran Hesterman, author of Fair Food, has been intimately involved in the sustainable food movement for decades.  There’s a lot to learn from his long view in his new book.

Oran has played many roles in the movement, from farmer to foundation officer.  He’s recently founded a new non-profit, the Fair Food Network, which works to “uphold the fundamental right to healthy, fresh, and sustainably grown food.”  Hesterman brings both a historical and contemporary view of why our present food system, a “$1 trillion economic engine,” is broken, resulting in damage to both individual and environmental health.  Perhaps most importantly, Hesterman emphasizes the importance of public policy solutions to achieve widespread impact.  He explains clearly why individual action, such as backyard gardening, is valuable but insufficient.

Hesterman is clear about what values we must bring to our food system:  ”equity, diversity, ecological integrity and economic viability.”  He provides good examples of the ways that both insiders, working within businesses and institutions, and activists, on the outside, can effect change.  At times, these insiders and outsiders are working in parallel paths or in tandem towards changing the food system.

CISA received its first grant from the Kellogg Foundation in 1993, when Hesterman co-led their Integrated Farming systems program. Later, Kellogg supported the launch of the Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown®campaign, which Hesterman describes as  “the first modern-era communications campaign to encourage local purchasing as a way to support local farming.”  This story is a reminder to us all that making change is a long journey, taking time, resources and bit of luck.  Hesterman’s new book should help encourage more people to eat, celebrate and agitate for community connection and political change in our food system.

Photo of Phil Korman and Oran Hesterman by Leslie Cerier.