Plant a single seed and a garden will grow. The residents of a small Tennessee town called Signal Mountain (with a population of almost 8,000) demonstrated that they’re living by that adage when they adopted the United States’ first green foods resolution six weeks ago. A green foods resolution is a formal commitment to supporting environmentally-friendly farming practices, such as the production of organic, locally-grown and plant-based foods (the cultivation of which is much less detrimental to the environment than animal agriculture is).
On October 12, after a single session of deliberation and a unanimous vote, the local council of Signal Mountain officially resolved that the town will “promote the expansion of the number of Farmers Markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, community gardens, and other venues which provide healthful plant-based foods.”
The full story behind Signal Mountain’s green foods resolution is a shining example of the power that lies in thinking globally, scaling down, and acting locally to inspire change. The resolution was brought to the table by one man: David Cook. A teacher of American Studies, Democracy and Peace Studies, Cook also writes a weekly column for the local newspaper. Each week, he reflects on a national issue and applies it to local life. Many of Cook’s pieces have an environmental and vegetarian bent, and he considers his column an attempt to change how his neighbors live and see the world around them.
With this aim in mind, earlier this autumn, Cook submitted a column on the importance of green foods resolutions. Several weeks later, Councilman Paul Hendricks contacted Cook to express his interest in a local resolution, and to let him know that it was under consideration. At the next public meeting, Cook spoke about his column, and the five-member council passed the nation’s first green foods resolution. “It was so democratic,” Cook said. “This has really been about food democracy and political democracy.”
Cook exudes patience and hope. “I see this as a seed,” he said. “Something will really grow out of this. I think it is part of many things that are moving in the right direction, including community-supported agriculture, organic farming, a greater commitment to vegetarianism, more car-pooling, more questioning. It’s all tied together.”
As for how the rest of us can act locally by thinking globally, Cook emphasizes being hard-headed and resourceful. “Get practical,” he said. “Attend council meetings, write letters to the editor, march, boycott, pray, weep, hug trees. Literally, read and write. You use whatever power you have – leverage connections, or whatever comes into your life each day – and you try to improve the world through that. You try to have the right relationship.”
Press Release from Farm Sanctuary about the first success story in their Green Food Resolutions Campaign
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Meredith Turner, Farm Sanctuary, 646-369-6212, email@example.com
Signal Mountain, Tennessee Beats New York to Become First City in the Nation to Pass Groundbreaking Green Food Resolution
Small Southern Town Sends Signal to the Rest of the Nation with Historic Passage of Sustainable Food and Climate Legislation
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – December 1, 2009 – In a surprising move, a small Tennessee town, appropriately named Signal Mountain, beat New York to the punch to become the first town in the nation to pass a groundbreaking Green Food Resolution, an ordinance designed to counteract the massive health and environmental damage created by large-scale factory farms and the meat industry, by encouraging local farms, plant-based diets, ecological sustainability and nutritious eating habits. New York currently has a Green Food Resolution pending.
Inspired by Farm Sanctuary’s Green Foods Resolution Campaign, David Cook, a columnist for Signal Mountain’s Mountain Mirror newspaper, penned a column suggesting the small Tennessee town should consider passing a Green Food Resolution of its own. The column caught the attention of City Councilman Paul M. Hendricks who immediately took action and presented the groundbreaking resolution before the five member Signal Mountain Town Council, who made national history when they voted unanimously to adopt the Green Food Resolution ordinance.
“Playing an integral role in the passage of the nation’s first Green Food Resolution reminded me of the power of true democracy,” said Cook. “Behind this resolution are countless others who are doing the same work in restoring the balance, in creating a right relationship once again between people and the land. I am proud of Signal Mountain and believe this is just the beginning.”
The historic passage of the U.S.’s first Green Food Resolution in Signal Mountain, Tennessee marks a major milestone in the country’s effort to reduce its national climate “foodprint” – a more significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions than all transportation systems combined –
by proactively addressing the impact food choices have on the numerous health and environmental problems plaguing the nation. The passage also marks an important milestone for Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, which recently launched a campaign to introduce Green Food Resolutions in cities and towns throughout the country.
“I was proud to introduce a resolution that is consistent with the values and principles I have long believed in,” said Councilman Hendricks. “As a physician, I know well the value of a good diet. As a long-time environmentalist, I understand the importance of decreasing the amounts of chemicals and especially antibiotics and hormones put into our food sources. As a community leader, I understand the value of keeping our food production at the local level. This initiative is a winning combination at all levels – personal, local and global.”
Future planning and sustainability are not new concepts in this Tennessee town. Signal Mountain signed onto the Mayor’s Agreement on Climate Change two years ago while Hendricks was Mayor. There are also several small farms on Signal Mountain and many mountain residents already participate in plant-based Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. The ordinance will complement these actions, as well as work that is currently being done to restore streams to healthy levels and resolve current and future traffic and transportation issues in a sustainable way.
“We applaud Councilman Hendricks and the town of Signal Mountain for taking visionary action to protect the health of their citizens, the environment and the billions of animals raised for food in deplorable conditions on factory farms each year,” said Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary. “By promoting access to healthy, plant-based food, Signal Mountain will indeed send a signal to the rest of the nation about the critical importance of thoughtful eating.”
Through Farm Sanctuary’s Green Food Resolutions Campaign, advocates just like Cook are reaching out to their local city governments to introduce resolutions similar to the one passed in Signal Mountain, and seeking wide support for the expansion of farmers markets, community supported CSA programs, community gardens and other venues that provide healthful plant-based foods.
On June 30, New York City Council Member Bill de Blasio introduced a similar groundbreaking resolution for New York City calling for a citywide FoodprintNYC initiative to reduce the city’s climate foodprint and create greater access to local, fresh, healthy plant-based food, especially in low-income communities, as well as city-run institutions. So far, 24 City Council members have signed on as co-sponsors.
Earlier this year, President Obama showed support of local gardens to promote healthy food by announcing the establishment of an edible garden on the South Lawn of the White House. In addition, the new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced his intention to create community gardens at every USDA facility around the world, starting with the “People’s Garden,” located on the grounds of the USDA.
If you would like to receive a copy of the Signal Mountain Green Food Resolution, or speak with Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur, please contact Meredith Turner at 646-369-6212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Farm Sanctuary
Farm Sanctuary is the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization. Since incorporating in 1986, Farm Sanctuary has worked to expose and stop cruel practices of the “food animal” industry through research and investigations, legal and institutional reforms, public awareness projects, youth education, and direct rescue and refuge efforts. Farm Sanctuary shelters in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Orland, Calif., provide lifelong care for hundreds of rescued animals, who have become ambassadors for farm animals everywhere by educating visitors about the realities of factory farming. Additional information can be found at farmsanctuary.org or by calling 607-583-2225.
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Green Food Resolution for City of Signal Mountain
Whereas, the City of Signal Mountain strives to be a Green City that promotes lifestyles that are ecologically sustainable; and
Whereas, food and farming systems have significant impacts on our health and the ecological wellbeing of our planet; and
Whereas, there is growing popular concern about problems associated with industrialized animal agriculture, including environmental destruction, threats to consumer health and rural communities, and the inhumane treatment of animals; and
Whereas, plant-based foods have been shown to be healthful and nutritious; and
Whereas, shifting toward plant based agriculture can help to lighten our footprint on the planet; therefore
RESOLVED that the Signal Mountain City Council encourages individuals, institutions and businesses to provide more plant-based foods, especially those grown locally and organically; and
RESOLVED that the Signal Mountain Council promotes expansions of the number of Farmers’ Markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, Community Gardens, and other venues for providing healthful plant-based foods, and encourages food retailers to offer more plant-based options.