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What is Food Literacy and Why Does it Matter?

nourish2.jpgGrowing up in Colorado, the last thing on my mind was the story of my food. It came from the grocery store, of course. Or a fast food joint. I was enamored with anything that the astronauts might eat or drink, which meant highly processed food.

One of the few memories I have of eating fresh, local, seasonal food was at a nearby cherry orchard. Wow, the burst of flavor still lingers in my mouth. Like many people, I went from meal to meal without ever asking the most basic questions: Where did this food come from? How was it grown? How did it reach me?

In a nutshell, I was food illiterate. Not until I moved away from home did I begin to question my relationship to food and the larger food system. Gradually, I began to reflect on the ecological and social implications of my food choices. I discovered the joy of shopping at a farmers market. And I cherished the act of cooking and eating with friends and family.

As my food journey unfolded, I found myself becoming more food literate. I saw food and agriculture as powerful levers for nourish1.jpgconstructive social change. How many spheres of human activity—if you design with intention—can create more vibrant communities, help solve global warming, and restore fiscal sanity (remember health care costs)?

This personal engagement with the story of my food led me to produce a PBS special entitled Nourish: Food + Community and develop a companion educational initiative. More and more, I’m intrigued with the question: What is food literacy and why does it matter?

nourish3.jpgAt Nourish, we’ve crafted a simple definition for food literacy: “Understanding the story of our food from farm to table, and back to the soil.” This definition invites us to consider the big picture. We’re all part of the story.

Join us in creating a more food literate society.

Take the Food Literacy Quiz!

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Kirk Bergstrom is the founder and executive director of WorldLink, a nonprofit organization dedicated to education for sustainability. A filmmaker, designer and social entrepreneur, he has produced award-winning television, interactive multimedia, websites, museum exhibits, and educational curricula. Kirk enjoys tasting seasonal fare at the farmers market and cooking up fresh veggies picked from the garden.

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