By Russell Libby
MOFGA Executive Director
Advertising people say that you know your message is getting through when you're so tired of repeating it that you're ready to stop. Not that we're tired, but it's always fun to see some results. So, for those of us who like some reinforcement that we're heading in the right direction, I hope you've noticed that:
• the public's knowledge of, and concerns about, genetically engineered foods has been growing rapidly this year;
• organic foods are one of the fastest-growing categories in retail stores across the country;
• almost six percent of Maine's dairy farms have converted to organic production;
• Maine has one of the densest networks of farmer's markets, natural food stores, and restaurants buying local foods in the country;
• Agriculture Commissioner Robert Spear and Legislative leaders have been promoting the importance of local agriculture and agricultural development;
• local land trusts are now looking at farmland as an important resource, and the Land for Maine's Future Bond that just passed sets aside $5 million for farmland protection;
• we just had one of the best Common Ground Country Fairs ever!
… and MOFGA's in the middle of all this and more.
As we approach, at least in common measurement, the end of the decade, the century, and the millennium, I can only feel encouraged about the progress that's being made toward building a local and organic food system here in Maine. While we can and do affect the larger world, the biggest impact we have is in our day-to-day actions and decisions.
We've already started to converse with friends and neighbors about how to celebrate at the end of December. I know an important part of that for all of us is the food that we'll share. Decades from now we'll want to remember December 31, and tell stories of how the world has changed from that date. I'm hoping that all of us will be able to remember that we had made commitments to a celebration that involved local foods and farmers, not just on that day, but everyday.
I hope you all enjoy the holidays, because right afterwards we'll be back at work bringing along the majority of farmers and consumers, building a food system that works for all of us.