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Think globally, eat locally


2008-10-23

You may not have heard about the real food movement yet, but its time is coming. One of the first steps, the Food Justice Tour, will be in Spartanburg from Oct. 23 through Oct. 28. Thanya Sangubon spoke on topics ranging from sustainable local agriculture to international free trade and fair trade at a number of campus and community events. Shespoke Monday, Oct. 27, at Leonard Auditorium on the Wofford campus.

Wofford alumnus Allyn Steele (‘05, left) and the Wofford College Go Green Initiative's fall semester Real Food Challenge campaign are doing their best to educate the students of Wofford and the surrounding community of Spartanburg on just what it means to pick out food that supports local farmers and highlights unfair trade practices that hurt farmers in poor parts of the world.

“The Real Food Challenge is a nationwide campaign,” says Steele. “A lot of colleges have adopted it. Wofford is one of several in South Carolina. This is the first time that campuses have networked nationwide to do this kind of thing, though.”

Sangubon, who goes by the name P’Nok, organizes farmers in her native Thailand in an effort to make sure they reap the profits of their labor and avoid being undermined by government subsidies.

Indeed, the whole point of the real food movement is to establish a more direct relationship between producer and consumer.

Amy Chalmers is a Wofford student who worked alongside local farmers last summer with Steele and other Wofford students.

“We have so many resources in the area,” says Chalmers. “We want to get the word out. It’s about being more connected to the food that you eat and having a more tangible way of connecting with farmers and supporting them. Support the Farmer’s Market, for example.”

Fellow student Sarah Hager explains how Wofford fits into the equation.

“With so many resources in the area and with our goal being to promote them, and what better place to start than on a college campus?,” says Hager. “Now that I have spent time working with farmers I realize that there are people behind the food that you buy. You should do your best to support them, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Steele echoes Chalmers’ point that college campuses are an ideal place to start the education process.

“The idea behind this is for campuses that are going to sell products such as bananas, rice and coffee…products not grown locally…to do so in a way that’s real. The Real Food Challenge’s goal is to highlight the real costs of food, which are often hidden by subsidies and things like that.

“Campuses spend billions of dollars a year on food. If all those purchases were put toward stimulating local and regional economies or developing fair trade practices, over time it will be more fair to farmers who aren’t being treated fairly now. This is the first step.”