On Monday, June 10 Chateau Ste. Michelle was basked in the afternoon’s sunlight that gently drifted down the green expanse of the vineyard. Following the curved pathways leads you into an elegant tasting room and behind that, a lecture hall that invites in the remnants of afternoon sun. GrapeVine, a unique organization that blends conversation mixed with community, gathered to hear national bestselling author Anna Lappé speak. Lappé’s work centers around sustainability and food justice. Accompanying Lappé on a panel were five women, all with unique positions and skills here in Washington that focus on a unified ultimate value: what’s on the end of your fork matters.
The panel consisted of Donna Moodie, who opened the restaurant Marjorie in Seattle back in 2003. During the conversation she stressed, “It’s not that important to preach; invite someone to the table.” Hospitality and genuine conversation seem to go a lot further than lecturing others.
Anna Chotzen, Viva Farms Business and Marketing Manager, explained how Viva Farms is an agricultural training and farm business incubator program with locations in Skagit and King counties. It has trained more than 950 farmers and the best part: Viva’s training is bilingual: catering to both English and Spanish speakers.
Hilary Aten joined PCC Farmland Trust in 2011. She explained how rural communities are dependent on their natural resources and how, as a country, we waste about a third of the food we produce while some other countries waste nearly 50% of their food.
Lisa Pawlek Jaguzny came to Oxbow Farm and Education Center in 2018. As Executive Director, she is leading the organizations on land care, farming, and environmental education.
Tracey Gleason Baker is a 5th generation owner and rancher of The Gleason Ranch located in Brady, Washington. Baker prides herself on ranching holistically and sustainability.
After the enlightening and lively evening of conversation, Lappé answered a few questions via email. Lappé says the most rewarding piece of writing what she does is being able to share it with so many people. She urges you to support your local foodshed. She believes it’s one of the strongest and most straightforward ways people can be more conscientious about their diets especially when the Puget Sound region is thriving with farms to support. “This means supporting stores that buy from your local farmers or trying direct-to-consumer opportunities—like farmers markets or community-supported agriculture farms—to connect directly to the people producing your food,” said Lappé.
Lappé believes that more people than ever are wanting to align their lives to a commitment to tackle the climate crisis. The simplest—and one of the more effective ways to do this on an everyday level—is to be considerate of what we buy, to how we get around, to what we do for a living. “Studies show that organic production reduces on-farm greenhouse gas emissions and creates more resilient farms able to better withstand the weather extremes of the climate crisis. It also means seeking to reduce waste in the food stream, from reducing our consumption of packaged and processed foods to ensuring that the food we buy, we eat. The average American family wastes about one-third of all food they could eat any year, that’s a lot of wasted money, not to mention wasted greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing that food,” said Lappé.
When asked what she was most excited about for the future she had a lot to say. “I am excited by the movements around the world that are standing up, from water protectors in Standing Rock to Sunrise movement youth in Diane Feinstein’s office to anti-fracking activists in Pennsylvania, to demand that we keep fossil fuels in the ground and decarbonize our economy as quickly as possible. And I’m excited about how much the conversation has changed.” She continued, “More and more people realize that the food sector is responsible for about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions and that intervening in the food system is urgently important. There are now awesome food and climate policies being developed by folks like the California Climate and Agriculture Network and great campaigns around these themes, too. We don’t have any time to lose, though, so I’d like to see all of this work scaled up and scaled up fast!”
From the folks at Grist to Governor Jay Inslee, many people in the Pacific Northwest believe climate change is the story of our generation. Lappé agrees wholeheartedly. She said, “The question remains… how does this story end? We are writing this story as we speak and all of us can be its authors.”