Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Latest Tony Geraci News

If you're at all interested in the Baltimore local food movement, you've probably heard the news about Tony Geraci right now.

But for those of you who haven't, I thought it would be appropriate to post the news here.

To quote yesterday's Baltimore Sun article:

The Baltimore schools' food guru, Anthony Geraci, will be scaling back his duties as director of the food and nutrition office in the coming year but plans to keep cooking up ideas to reform city students' diets.

Geraci, who in two years in the post has inspired a leaner, greener version of what appears on student lunch trays, said in an interview Tuesday that he and the school system agreed to cut his hours so that he can spend more time with his wife, who lives in New Hampshire. But he plans to continue to steer the direction of the food and nutrition office, sometimes from afar, and to promote the city's initiatives on a national scale.

Urbanite Magazine also wrote an article about the Geraci news.

But while Geraci won the adulation of the newfood crowd, what he got from the city that initially embraced him is something else entirely: a tossed salad made of red tape, croutons the size of roadblocks, and too few greens—meaning cash. His efforts to convert his locavore vision into edible reality effectively ended in late May, when the city announced that, as of July 1, he would no longer be in charge of what city school kids eat. Geraci will continue on as a city schools "food consultant," but he'll also juggle consulting gigs across the country.

The Tedx video above shows the beginning of the love affair with the local food movement in Baltimore.

But, as in every relationship, it seems that the honeymoon phase is over and now it's time to hammer out the day to day issues.

Through my work with various collectives like 2640 and The Beet Food Co-op Buying Club, I've seen the struggle it takes to get a visionary idea work on a real world level. Ideas are one thing, but permits, bank accounts, and audience response are another. I'm sure that working with an organization as large and burdened as the school system can't make visionary change any easier.

This latest news hasn't made me doubt my faith in the local food movement. Changing our consumer habits isn't going to happen overnight.

The most important thing is that we're making a step in the right direction. Let's keep heading forward.

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