We had a chance to chat with Sibella Kraus, of Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE), and ask about the future of food. Below are her insights on several key questions that affect us all.
Why is it important that society transition to sustainably produced food?
Sustainably produced food means food produced with no negative impacts on the environment, either in the short or long term; and ideally with positive environmental impacts, such as carbon sequestration, improved soil health, and increased biodiversity. Sustainable agriculture, which works at a wide range of scales, fosters food sovereignty. The Bay Area Food Futures Roadmap makes the case for making the agriculture and food sector a foundation of regional resilience.
How did you get interested in sustainable food & agriculture?
As a professional cook in the early part of my career, I was inspired by the connection between delicious, nurturing food and organically produced food, handled with care from farm to plate. In leadership roles in wholesale and public markets, I enjoyed getting to know hundreds of innovative and dedicated farmers, creating new market opportunities and solving logistics puzzles. As a journalist, I got excited digging into issues and discovering trends.
What will it take for more farmers to support sustainably produced food on their farms?
Support from the public, especially economic incentives and also more respect.
Outside of places like the Bay Area, what are some the challenges with moving to sustainable agriculture?
A main challenge for expanding sustainable agriculture is the lack of true cost accounting. The ‘cheap food’ provided by the mainstream food system is artificially buoyed up by subsidies for commodity crops and jettisoned externalities (i.e. environmental and social production costs passed on to the public). A related challenge is that investments in sustainable agriculture require a long-term outlook.
What would help most to further the push toward sustainable agriculture? Policy, investment from private sector, consumer demand, other?
Advancing sustainable agriculture requires public and private institutions, civil society and individuals to undertake myriad concerted actions and to build on successful models. The Bay Area Food Futures Roadmap, a framework for collaborative impact, presents a vision and principles, a detailed list of actions by actor, and a scorecard with numerous indicators showing where we are now and where we need to go in order to elevate sustainable agriculture in our region.
More information on The Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) in Berkeley, CA is here: www.sagecenter.org