The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of January 16 to January 23, 2020


Today I attended the meeting for the Winchendon Food Project in the Town Hall auditorium. I've been attending these meetings since they started. I've had some thoughts about the benefits of this project that haven't yet been mentioned at the meetings.

We talk a lot about the importance of food in preventing chronic illnesses and helping people stay healthy and fit, reducing health care costs overall. We talk about the economic and environmental benefits of local food production and distribution--giving local farmers access to a profitable consumer base instead of food dollars going to big supermarket chains for produce flown in from California, Canada and Chile. We talk about the way local food networks help bind together a community.

But we don't talk about safety.

Many people worry about terrorism and terrorist attacks; this is a major reason for mistrust of immigrants. But we're more vulnerable to terrorist attacks that we need to be, because we rely on massive systems that can be easily disrupted. Local, overlapping and redundant systems for producing food, water, electrical power and services are far safer than massive single systems. You can only impact a small part of them at any one time. If something does happen, they're within your direct control to repair or replace. They're empowering, while dependence on massive centralized systems makes us helpless.

Imagine what would happen if we had a major breakdown of our infrastructure; if oil runs out; if climate change disrupts global supply chains.

New England is in a much better position to quickly achieve regional self-sufficiency than some other parts of the country. And rural areas like North Central Massachusetts are in a better position to be self-sufficient than any size city (although New England's cities have many advantages over megalopolises like New York and Los Angeles--this is obvious if you ever flew from over them in a plane at night).

The Winchendon Food Project is a step toward regional self-sufficiency. It goes far beyond helping people here access good food. It's a model of a new kind of system--or more accurately, an updating of a very old one--that makes us all safer and more secure. Our proliferating solar farms are another good example. Our small manufacturing businesses are part of it. Maybe we couldn't produce our own gasoline, but we could change to electric vehicles and make methanol from crops that we grow.

That's the funny thing about real change, the right kind of change. It's not just a stand-alone thing. It's like that first domino tipped over with a million more to go. Sometimes, when you open your consciousness to making one small could lead anywhere, and the sky's the limit.

Inanna Arthen