Where are the young people? It’s a question I have been asked a lot this past year as Upper Peninsula Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference.
To get answers, I turned to an organization called 40 Below in Marquette County. The group was created in 2010 as a way for professionals under the age of 40 to come together through networking and professional development opportunities. The group hosts fun events, puts on conferences and encourages young adults to volunteer in the community.
When we look back through the history of festivals, events or gatherings related to farming, food, and harvests – you’ll find that each will have their own version or interpretation of what that celebration represents. From the ancient sacrifices in honor of Greek gods, to our modern-day hometown harvest festivals – you won’t find one occasion quite the same. One contributing factor to those differences, is location. A harvest festival in Spain often highlights grapes, where here in Michigan we celebrate cherries and blueberries. Our geography and local climate largely determine when we hold these events and what they celebrate. Another important piece is the people. Throughout history cultural influences such as religion, art, politics, and business have shaped rituals that find their way into being. As time goes on, activities evolve, disappear, grow, and sometimes become honored by tradition. Many cultures mention in their own ways, the importance of coming together as a group, family or community and the vital social connection these moments bring.These same reasonings can be applied to the MQT Local Food Fest,
In the United States, we waste 40% of food produced, and an alarming 90% of that goes to the landfill, where it emits methane gas which is a mere 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. If that statistic doesn’t do anything for you, then how about that the average American spends about $1,500 a year on food they are just going to throw away.