The Local Food Economy Game is an applied research and social action project of Sohodojo. Our goal is to increase the production and consumption of wholesome foods grown and sold locally. We are developing a web-based exploratory learning environment where folks can have fun while deepening their appreciation of the social and economic impacts of "Buy Fresh, Buy Local."

The World is Flat

Now that I have finished "Field that Dream" and "Fields of Plenty," I will continue with my reading of Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat." As I make connections between the book and LFE and/or Sohodojo content, my thoughts will go up here.


Conceptual Model for the Canadian Food and Nutrition System

Located here "Conceptual Model for the Canadian Food and Nutrition System," used by Health Canada. This model is more complex than ours will be, as it takes into account five levels of food use: food supply, distribution, consumption, utilization, and health outcome. Our model will certainly elminate the last two, as it will not incorporate the health aspects of the food we eat to that extent.

More from "Fields of Plenty"

...Rethinking how our society
participates in the food system, where food is produced and by whom, and what scale it is grown on.

Aaron says that he thinks the best way to get America back into agriculture is to turn it into a spectator sport.

These two quotations go back to a point of Sohodojo's that I have often mentioned in my blog posts: that shopping can and should be an experience in itself. Michael Ableman, the author of "Fields of Plenty" firmly believes in this himself. He stresses the importance of knowing who made your food, how it was made, where it was made. There should be a connection, he says, between yourself and your food.

"Fields of Plenty:" Reliability of local foods

From Michael Ableman's "Fields of Plenty:"

Satur Farm is a reliable source; it's about production, consistency, about always being able to say yes to every request from every restaurant. I'm sure such reliability has helped give chefs in the region the confidence to commit to regional and organic ingredients and promote them to their customers.

From all the readings and research I have been doing into local foods and their viability, I can only find two legitimates reason why a restaurant or supermarket might refrain from using local foods. The first of these is the lack of reliability that can sometimes go along with local foods. Farmers are often not as dependent as a corporation such as Sysco in consistently supplying the same quality and quantity of foods. I think that if this stumbling block can be addressed, than corporations such as Wal-Mart will have no excuse for not using local foods.


"Fields of Plenty"

Just a note to say that I am busy reading Michael Ableman's "Fields of Plenty: A Farmers' Journey in Search of Real Food and the People Who Grow it." Similar to Jenny Kurzweil's "Fields that Dream," Ableman uses the stories and methods of many individual farmers to provide a context for the current state of American agriculture. Having read about half of Ableman's book so far, I would say that Kurzweil's is a better read--the stories of the farmers she tells are more gripping, and overall she makes a better case for the use of local foods. Ableman's book, though, has its advantages. He travels the country to interview many farmers from different areas, and his thoughts on each visit are detailed at each stop.


A couple more quotes from "Field that Dream"

As an additional to my earlier post about Jenny Kurzweil's "Fields That Dream," here are some facts about local foods and farmers' markets from her book:

  • In a recent survey, 19,000 farmers reported selling their produce only at farmers' markets.
  • Shoppers spent $584.6 billion for food produced in the United States in 1998, with farmers earning only a 20 percent share of the food dollar.

Agent-Based Computational Economics

In addition to the multitude of agent-based computational economics on Leigh Tesfatsion's website, there is also an article on the subject here, written by Denis Phan. Will post more as I get through the article...

A few more agent-based simulation platforms

Moduleco is a "modular "multi-agent" platform, designed for to simulate markets and organizations, social phenomenons and population dynamics."

In addition to being a resource for agent-based modeling information, SwarmWiki is the home of Swarm, one of the original agent-based simulation programs. Swarm is a "multi-agent software platform for the simulation of complex adaptive systems. In the Swarm system the basic unit of simulation is the swarm, a collection of agents executing a schedule of actions. Swarm supports hierarchical modeling approaches whereby agents can be composed of swarms of other agents in nested structures. Swarm provides object oriented libraries of reusable components for building models and analyzing, displaying, and controlling experiments on those models." An in-depth description of Swarm can be found here

Agent-Based Simulation Application: The US Air Force

SEAS, the US Air Force's "Multi-Agent Theater Operations Simulation," is a further example of the broad ranges of uses for agent-based simulation. According to the SEAS website:

"Fields That Dream: A Journey to the Roots of Our Food"

Fields That Dream: A Journey to the Roots of Our FoodFields That Dream: A Journey to the Roots of Our FoodI have spent some time over the last couple days reading Jenny Kurzweil's Fields That Dream: A Journey to the Roots of Our Food. Kurzweil describes the state of state of American agriculture through the lives of a number of small-scale farmers.

In addition to being well-written, Kurzweil's portrayal of the lives of these farmers is striking. From a Mexican family who immigrated to the States to make enough money to survive, to a chef who left his home and job to pursue life on a farm, to a couple who cannot leave their house for more than two hours at a time for fear of leaving their animals without care, each farmer has a story to tell.


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