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Michelle Ferrier argues for good food fight on personal, local level at BlogHer conference

Michelle Ferrier, an associate professor in Elon University's School of Communications, is also the founder and publisher of LocallyGrownNews.com, an online news and information hub focused on local food issues. She was one of the panelists May 20 and 21 at BlogHer Food in Atlanta, a conference focused on those who blog about food.

BlogHer Food 2011 Food Blogging for Change panel from left to right: Elaine Wu, moderator; Andrew Wilder, Bettina Luescher, Michelle Ferrier and the anonymous Mrs. Q.

At a session geared toward food policy and change, Ferrier didn’t hesitate to name her top three wishes:
• Help towns and municipalities to recognize that food security is as important as homeland security,
• Establish home economics at the elementary school level, and
• Grow a home garden or community garden in every neighborhood.

The panel, “Food Blogging for Change,” featured Bettina Luescher of the World Food Programme (www.wfp.org); Mrs. Q, an anonymous teacher who blogs about a year of school lunches at www.fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com, and Andrew Wilder, a blogger on food policy at www.eatingrules.com. The session was moderated by Elaine Wu, of www.virgoblue.com. From feeding the world to making personal choices, the panelists ranged in scale. But their thoughts on food policy and effecting change through technology were similar.

Luescher said that her goal at the World Food Programme is to tell the stories of the people and communities changed by the WFP’s activities.

“The amazing thing for me is how we can share stories we see in the field and how the web can enable sharing of these stories provides avenues for impact,” Luescher said.

Ferrier said that the media shares powerful images of what hunger looks like. These images mask the scope of hunger in the world and in the United States.

“We all have images of hunger from the television. We’ve been trained to turn away from the images of starving children. But turn the story on its head and recognize all children starve for good food,” she said.

Nutritionists say that childhood obesity may be a food security issue. A child may overeat when he or she doesn’t know when they will eat again.

Ferrier said she began LocallyGrownNews.com by looking for areas where women were making a difference.

“I found it was around family and food. I had done stories on local and community farmers markets and realized that social commentary was happening at the farmers’ market rather than the town center,” she said. “I saw food and storytelling as a pathway to local and community change.”

Ferrier says that LocallyGrownNews.com is educating North Carolinians about where to find fresh food, how to grow it, how to prepare it and how food choices can change food policy.

Ferrier coached attendees on using social media tools to communicate and move people to action around food issues. She uses news and information on LocallyGrownNews.com and social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and others to grow the good food movement.

Michelle Ferrier,
5/26/2011 9:46 AM