Menu for the Future

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Lakewood Observer News Coverage

Posted by Peg D on April 25, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Menu For The Future—Serving Up Community Dialogue

The Menu for the Future project is involving Lakewood residents in learning about and discussing the issues affecting their daily food choices. The expected outcome is to create more literate consumers, which in turn will drive sales of local, healthy food. The program is based on a six-week course developed by the Northwest Earth Institute that involves selected readings and self-facilitated discussion. It is part of the Local Food Celebration Year for Sustainable Cleveland 2019.

In September of 2011, a working group came together at the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit and set a goal to get as many groups as possible to use the Menu for the Future course within their faith community, organization, business or neighborhood during 2012. About a dozen pilot groups, with a farmer or food producer in each one, are meeting in February and March, and plans are in motion to scale up during the remainder of the year.

The course, designed for groups of eight to twelve participants, is based on a source book of readings that includes directions for self-facilitation by the groups for guided conversation about our food systems. The course has been successfully used in Port Townsend, WA, where they ran 25 simultaneous courses with a farmer or food producer in each course (most groups were ten to fifteen people). It changed the nature of the conversation about food in the town and established relationships between producers and consumers that have been of economic as well as personal benefit.

The course is designed to educate and to inspire people to move to action based on that information. With readings from a variety of sources including Michael Pollan, Wendell Berry, Frances Lappe and Barbara Kingsolver, it

  • Explores food systems and their impact on culture, society and ecological systems.
  • Offers insights into agricultural and individual practices that promote personal and ecological well-being
  • Challenges participants to consider their role in creating or supporting sustainable food systems.

The Lakewood Public Library has ordered five copies, and books can be purchased for $20, a special Cleveland rate. Currently groups are meeting in a variety of settings and geographic areas: River's Edge, Carnegie West Library, the Galleria, the Catholic Diocese Headquarters, Preterm, Gates Mills Library, Unitarian Universalist churches in Shaker Heights, Akron and Kent, and a Hudson Ecumenical group. The pilot groups and interested conveners will hold a celebration potluck at the Galleria on April 19th. Additional groups will launch in April and May, including a group at the Lakewood Public Library. Anyone interested in convening a group (no special expertise needed) or joining a group should contact [email protected] or call 216-264-0181.

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