Young children can spend hours imagining worlds that are exactly the way they want them to be. They create entire realities in their minds and play them out in real life with toys, sticks, or whatever they can find. But somehow, we start losing that ability to imagine so vividly and wildly as we age.
At Hillsboro Food Co-op, we haven’t given up on imagining. We envision a world of plenty for our friends, families, and neighbors. We see tables full of nutritious food to support the community’s well-being. We imagine a world without food scarcity or insecurity, a world with enough for everyone. And we invite you to join us in this vision by becoming a part-owner of our community-owned Hillsboro, OR, grocery store.
A World of Plenty Is Possible
The world’s population is nearly 8 billion people. In fact, by the time you read this, it may have already surpassed that number.
How on Earth (literally) can we feed that number of people? How can we ensure that our communities aren’t going hungry? How can we create equitable access to nutritious food?
These are overwhelming questions to ponder when we think about such large numbers. But when we think about the abundance of what our Earth can produce, it doesn’t seem so daunting. The fact is, there is enough food for everyone. Globally, we can have enough food to feed all of us.
If that’s the case, why are so many people hungry? The answer to that question is complicated, as is anything on a global scale. But as a starting point, distribution is a significant factor. About a third of the food produced for humans to eat never makes it to anyone’s table. That is a staggering amount of waste.
Here are some ways we can work to overcome this obstacle on our way to feeding the world.
Growing enough food only helps if people have a way to access it. With more than 50 million people living in designated food deserts, there are thousands of communities who lack access to nutritious options.
This problem exists in rural, suburban, and urban areas and disproportionately impacts people of color. To counteract this lack of access, communities and governments need to create smaller local markets within these communities. And they need to be true grocery stores, not convenience stores filled with expensive, processed choices.
Big-box stores often don’t want to open up in these communities, and there is rarely sufficient room for them. But small markets and co-ops can serve these neighborhoods well. With fresh in-season produce and a good supply of staple items, small grocery stores can go a long way in battling food deserts.
Modern large-scale farming has damaged much of the world’s soil. Globally, we have become heavily reliant on three crops in our diets: maize, wheat, and rice. These three crops make up 60% of the world’s dietary energy. This lack of variety in our diets is partly responsible for a new “double burden” across the globe. That is, populations are now experiencing both malnutrition AND obesity.
Local community gardens provide a way for people to grow and access a variety of in-season produce that helps meet their nutritional needs. And these gardens are typically quite affordable for individuals and families. Many parks and rec departments, colleges, churches, and food co-ops have community gardens.
These spaces give people more control over the soil, seeds, and pest prevention measures they use. With this access and control, communities can have sufficient nutrient-dense options that are safe to consume.
Since food production isn’t the biggest obstacle to feeding the world, we need to create more ways to distribute the food we produce. Food co-ops are excellent at meeting this need. Co-ops such as HFC can work directly with local farmers, bee-keepers, ranchers, and other producers to move food from the farms to the shelves.
This hyper-local focus keeps the supply chain short and manageable, reducing transportation costs and environmental impacts. It also helps maintain the local economy, placing dollars into the hands of those in the community.
Will You Imagine a World of Plenty with Us?
Hillsboro Food Co-op is eager to be part of the solution to food insecurity and inequity. We see a future of plenty when all of our neighbors, friends, and family will have enough nutritious food at all times. We know it’s possible and are excited to watch it develop.
We invite you to join us in this exciting vision by becoming a member-owner and being part of this impactful work.