Conversation with Wayne Proberts Part 5: Future of the Food System

This is part five and the final part of a multi-part overview of an interview I did with Wayne Robert in August 2020. Here you can find Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 here.

A view of a market stall with lots of colorful fruit and vegetables.
Where we get our food from is an important decision. Image from Pixabay.

At the end of the interview we discussed changes we thought would happen to the food system. In particular we considered the strengths of the current food system that sustain us while we continue to make change.

People feel somewhere in their gut that we were going the wrong way as a society; we got to go another way. And part of how we’re going to express it is with food, we’re going to grow more food in our backyards. We’re gonna buy more local food, have connections with our local farmers. And I think the food movement is going to be pushing in very new directions after COVID.

Wayne Roberts August 2020

I hope Wayne is right and that we see a growth of local and regional food systems and regenerative agriculture lead by the farmers, rather than by the big agribusinesses. We need to change something about the food system as we shall not survive with the current system based on multinational companies creating packaged and processed foods, which leaves too many dependent on charitable handouts and too many essential workers, including farmers and farmworkers struggle to feed their families.

According to Wayne, one thing that has gone right is farmers markets, which are the cornerstone to building and sustaining a local food system.

Well, I think first, one of the successes of the food sector has been farmers markets. They’ve come up from virtually [nothing], they were all virtually extinct in England and the US and Canada, and they’re now all booming. 

Wayne Roberts August 2020
A picture of a shovel in freshly dug dirt representing the work we need to do to build the community and society we want after the pandemic
We have to dig deep to build a new local and regional food system Image by Goumbik from Pixabay

For the future of the food system from the science perspective, Wayne considered that the microbiomes of soil and the gut are the most important future research topics. For example, soil science and the role of regenerative agriculture in re-building the soil and helping to sequester carbon were topics we briefly discussed:

One of the interesting things is the rise of soil as an issue. There’s almost a religious feeling about soil now. And the whole field of regenerative agriculture. Yeah. And that’s restoring the importance of soil science.

Wayne Roberts August 2020

I would like to have a stronger connection with my local food system as mostly I buy food from local branches of big chains such as Aldi and Shoprite. I am lucky that I have a local farm offering a Community Supported Agriculture share (CSA) which starts in May. I must find out if other local farmers do CSAs or offer produce for sale from farm stands. It would be interesting for find out if any of the local farms use regenerative agricultural practices.

Do you use a CSA? What products can you find that are locally grown? Please share in the comments.