Phew! Goodbye 2021 and don’t slam the door on your way out.
Right, good riddance to a difficult year and let’s shut the book on what happened!
Not so fast.
I find it helpful to look back to remember what I achieved in the last 12 months and have a moments of celebration. Perhaps I learned something that I can take forward to give me hope to make 2022 better.
For my end of year reflections I start with YearCompass. The most important changes in my life were personal: my dad’s death, moving forward without my life coach Jesse Brisendine, and joining London Writers’ Salon as a Gold Patron.
On the professional front, the most significant change was taking USDA’s Harmonized GAP Plus training and becoming a Group GAP auditor for LancoGAP. I also attended many online trainings about food safety across all spectrums including retail food and selling food online. The knowledge I gained improved my ability to help all my clients with their food safety as I now have a better understanding of food safety from farm to table.
My book is slowly, oh so slowly, making progress. I am, I understand from discussions with fellow LWS Gold writers, in the very messy middle of the book and I have no idea what this book is about anymore and what it looks like. More positively, I have written one first draft and I am on the second, even though both are what I like to call “vomit” drafts. I admit that I hadn’t realized what I was getting myself into in 2019 when I breezily agreed to write about food science and food systems. The biggest challenge is keeping up with all the food system changes that are taking place as the world does sit still waiting for me to write my book.
We have now seen that having a vaccine was just an excuse to return to normal, whatever that means, especially for farm and food workers. Nothing much, on the surface, has changed for our essential workers. Like many, they are still paid poorly and treated badly with little outside support. I believe there is an interesting change happening here though as workers demand that their humanity is recognized and many are currently refusing to work in situations leading a shortage of workers and strikes around the food industry, from food service to food manufacturing.
Racism is still rife in America. Food equity is still lacking. People still lack access and control over their food systems. Food sovereignty has yet to be recognized as a goal within the US Food Movement. Managers, executives, food scientists and food technologists are mostly white and were mostly able to work from home. There was a calculated backlash against the USDA’s program for debt relief for Black farms which is still slowly, painfully making its way through the courts leaving Black farmers still without relief and struggling to keep their farms and land.
Climate change continues to disrupt our lives with wildfires and heatwaves in the Pacific Northwest, droughts in the SouthWest, tornadoes in Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky, and record breaking heat in December in Alaska. There is an understanding that we have to be ready to adapt and work change on the fly. Individual farms may be devastated by a climate event, so we have to be ready to support them at their time of loss at the same time as being ready as a community to look elsewhere for our food. Resilience is a community-centered responsibility not individual trauma response like it has been in the past.
The UN People’s Food Systems Summit took place in September and, frustratingly, focused on technological solutions, looking a new Green Revolution to provide us solutions to the joint problems of world hunger and climate change. This is without considering the potential of agroecology and indigenous methods of growing and producing food. This also led to the formation of stronger coalitions from the groups who do want to see a systemic change.
While this is challenging news – all of it, from my Dad’s death to the push back against debt relief for minority farmers – this all gives us a strong basis for 2022. I have seen on many fronts that community is essential. My family’s support over Dad, the support I get from LWS for writing my book and the community I am building around food science and food systems are making me more effective at the work I do.
We can take responsibility for our corner of 2022. We can support the food system by purchasing from local farmers and food businesses and help make sure that healthy food is available for everyone in our community.
Or perhaps in 2022 you will learn how to rest. I learned from the Nap Ministry not to feel guilty about resting and to realize that I need to rest.
Please share in the comments, how you are going to celebrate you in 2022.