Many of us are familiar with TED talks, the now ubiquitous storytelling venue that has attracted over a billion viewers to thousands of talks worldwide. In the 1990s, their “ideas worth spreading” mission led to granting independent licenses called TEDx events, often hosted by cities, universities or non-profits. Once the talks are published online, they become tools that can make impacts in our community development work. A TED talk (or any well-done, brief, online YouTube video) can be used to jumpstart a conversation on job creation, our environment, our health, our future or virtually any topic we may be teaching.
On October 17, 2014, I presented a TEDx talk to nearly 1,100 people at the historic Victoria Theatre in downtown Dayton, Ohio. The talk was entitled, “Be a Local Food Superhero.” My original aim was to inspire attendees, their friends and families to get more involved in supporting local farms and economies by purchasing local foods… noting that they could become virtual superheroes by making simple, deliberate choices in their food purchasing habits.
As I began to think about our work in community development, I quickly realized Extension workers can become local food superheroes as well. Aside from personally participating in the purchase and consumption of local goods, we can use our teaching and partnership platforms to encourage diverse programming around local foods, food security, food justice and a myriad of other food-related topics regardless of our individual program area focus.
The local foods idea cuts across all four program areas and spans rural, suburban and urban populations. Whether serving as youth educators, in agriculture, community development or family and consumer sciences, the opportunities are there. Extension workers have immense potential to positively impact local food consumption through their work. As noted in the talk, the social, community, personal health, environmental and economic impacts are not manipulated statistics. The added value comes through a collective impact. And collective impact can change our world.
The talk was published on January 12, 2015 and may be seen online at: u.osu.edu/raison/local-food/.
(Submitted by Brian Raison, Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator & County Extension Director, Miami County/Top of Ohio EERA)