Recently, Marilyn Robinson joined TEDxTucson as a curator. Here is a short piece she wrote on the importance of the local food movement to our community.

I was very sad to hear that Stout’s Cider Mill in Willcox, Arizona is going out of business. I shall miss it and my visits to buy their wonderful pies made with the apples they have grown for twenty-five years.  Mr. Stout wrote in a final letter to the public that, “…we dismissed all employees and turned off the ovens in the bakery at the close of business on March 29.” This family business employed orchard workers, bakers, apple pickers, cider press operators, bottlers, etc. and they offered the public family fun and apple picking recreation.

Where will they and their employees go? When I go to a farmer’s market I think as I choose my fruits and vegetables, of sustenance for myself and my family and of  my responsibility to support  small family farmers who still believe in the good earth and  what they can coax from it in this desert environment. But is a farmer’s market even sustainable without people like Ron and Corinne Stout?

I have only recently come to appreciate what the terms “locavore”, one who consumes what is produced locally, and “local food movement,” purchasing more locally grown food, mean in the context of community sustainability and me being the change I want to see in my world.

The theme TEDx  Tucson has chosen for its salons in 2011-2012 is about community sustainability and will engage us in a dialogue about how local food can lead to local jobs and make Tucson and southern Arizona a better place for nurturing all of us. The TED salon idea is important for Tucson because it starts the conversations about possibilities and will introduce us to new ideas and the people who have ideas and want to share them. It’s about the ideas and not about agendas, about collaboration and inspiration. Most importantly it’s about the questions that will be raised that have not been considered. What is a food system? What is our agriculture ecology? How does agriculture it fit into our bio-tech emphasis we are pursuing? What jobs can be generated in the name of food sustainability? What impact will energy, transportation, education and water policies have on food sustainability in our region? What kinds of leaders have a community sustainability vision regarding these policies? These are questions that I have and that TEDx Tucson can help us all to consider in order to come up with answers that we are hungry for.  Food sustainability is food for thought.