A Look Back, and Forward

A Look Back, and Forward


A Look Back, and Forward

February 9, 2016
Michel Nischan at Bridgeport Farmers Market
Photo Credit: Tom Hopkins

Howdy and happy 2016!

As I look back at 2015 and out at the year ahead, I write with two observations. One: we’ve accomplished so much. And two: we’ve got so much to do.

On the heels of our sold-out Summit, I’m heartened to see that so many people and players in the good food movement have proven that, when we find things we can truly align on, we can come together and achieve meaningful change.

When we look at what we’ve already accomplished together, it’s huge. Nationally, we’re seeing farmers markets and nutrition incentives achieve greater scale. We’re seeing significant interest in the healthcare sector embracing the concept of fruit-and-vegetable prescriptions. We see food retailers dipping their rather large toes in the waters of affordable access. We see the Wall Street Journal write that incentives are the way of the future. The passing of the FINI program with strong bi-partisan support demonstrates that, when it comes to access and affordability, there really is a good food movement. And just last week we saw nutrition incentives hailed in a Congressional hearing!

I also realize we’re just getting started. While we have all worked together to achieve the $100m for FINI in the Farm Bill, we’re reaching less than a half million of the 45 million Americans who struggle every day to put healthy foods on the table.

We’ve accomplished some great things, but now we’ve gotta go big. It’s time to go from reaching hundreds of thousands to reaching millions; from providing access mostly at seasonal, weekly farmers markets, to including major retail grocers who are open 24-7-365.

None of us should rest until we see affordable, healthy food choices available to every American struggling with poverty. And that means working together. As we look to set the stones of the path to scalability, it’s essential that we spread the tent to include partners and stakeholders who often aren’t traditionally part of the good food movement—large retailers, product manufacturers, healthcare professionals, insurance companies and others. Imagine what might happen when we bring these larger players to the same table.

I’m high off the Summit, in large part because that’s what we saw there: government officials and industry leaders coming together with a common goal of a healthier diet that’s affordable to the most disadvantaged, better for public health, and better for family farmers, as well.

It’s work that transcends traditional partisanships. In this election year, I take great confidence in the knowledge that the incentive approach was first implemented and expanded during the Bush administration. It has since exploded under the Obama administration. And FINI passed—in the dark environment of a split Congress—with broad bipartisan support. The incentive approach is so powerful, such a win-win, with so many multiple benefits, that I believe it can grow in any political climate.

Speaking of growing in any climate – it’s snowing outside my window as I type this, but across the county farmers are ordering seeds and preparing for the fields of tomato, corn, kohlrabi, and peppers that will soon reach for the sky. And many of them are ordering seeds they had never heard of a few years ago – like papalo, pepiche, and epazote. They’re planting more diverse crops because of unique market opportunities the incentive approach has opened up.

Like them, we have an opportunity to plant seeds, to cultivate more diverse partnerships. That’s how we, together, can scale our movement to make healthful, affordable food available across America.

Michel Nischan

Michel Nischan Signature

Co-Founder & CEO