We Are What We Eat and Measure

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment

The following excerpt is taken from the introduction to Whole Measures for Community Food Systems, a resource that “is designed to give organizations and communities a collaborative process for defining and expressing their complex stories and the multiple outcomes that emerge from their work.”  The guide is an example of what is possible coming out of the training that we jointly offer with the Center for Whole Communities called Whole Measures: Transforming Communities by Measuring What Matters Most.  This year we will offer the workshop in San Francisco (May), at Knoll Farm in Vermont (July), and in Boston (December).   In addition, the Community Food Security Coalition will offer a workshop on Whole Measures specifically focused on community food security work this April in Lexington, KY.

The spectrum of those working towards community food security is culturally and geographically diverse, spanning a broad range of people, places and activities. Organizations and individuals working in the food system and building food secure communities create complex relationships and inter-related activities. For example, an urban farmers’ market may also house a job-skills program that trains young mothers to teach cooking skills. At the close of the market, gleaners come by to pick up extra produce for the food bank, while a local composter gathers food waste to be recycled. Farmers at the market may also run a cooperative distribution site for local restaurants and institutions like schools and hospitals, as well as hold a seat on the local food policy council that helps define priorities for the area’s food system development.

Complex relationships and connections such as these are at the heart of building whole communities. Because of their intricacy, however, they can also be difficult to measure. Over the past eight years, Community Food Project grantees have expressed interest in finding ways to communicate the story of their work. In addition to counting the number of
pounds produced, partners engaged, youth trained, and other specific outputs, grantees are interested in sharing the importance of the connections between these outputs, the impacts of the relationships cultivated, the reinforcement
of underlying values, and the ways in which respect was communicated. Whole Measures for Community Food Systems is designed to give organizations and communities a collaborative process for defining and expressing their complex stories and the multiple outcomes that emerge from their work . . .

 For other posts of relevance to Whole Measures, check out:

“Holding Tension”

“Seeing, Being, Doing Whole”

“Geiger Counters for Quality”

“We Are What We Measure”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.