Coalition Report

Building A Better Food System

By Jenn DeRose,
Known & Grown Manager, Missouri Coalition for the Environment


Five things you can do to build a better system that protects our air, soil, and water.

1. Know your farmer. This is actually easier than it sounds, even during the pandemic. You can learn all about local farmers in our area by checking out the farmer profiles on using the Local Food Locator at knownandgrownstl.org. Farmers in the Known & Grown program don’t use synthetic chemicals on their produce or pasture, don’t confine animals, and use Good Stewardship Practices to protect natural resources.

2. Ask where your food is coming from. This one can be tough at first, but it can be done kindly and it gets easier with practice. Here are some steps to make asking easier:

Do your research and figure out what’s important to you. Do you care most about pesticides? Farm workers? Animal welfare? Climate-friendly farming? Picking one topic and becoming conversational about why it matters to you will make talking about it much easier.

Provide alternative solutions. Does your favorite restaurant or store offer factory-farmed meat? (The vast majority of meat in the USA comes from CAFOS, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). Let them know that Known & Grown STL can help them find pasture-raised, local products. We are ready and willing to help.

Be kind in your messaging. It can be hard to understand why restaurants and retailers would offer food that is so bad for people and the planet. Unfortunately, the way our food system is set up makes it difficult to do otherwise. In fact, your reaching out may be the very first time anyone has ever talked to them about this issue. Be kind, and they might be more inclined to listen.

Send a message via social media. Send a direct message at first – don’t start by posting on their wall or making public admonishments. Many businesses check their social media regularly and will respond quickly to a direct note.

3. Support farmers by supporting businesses that use their products. And when you buy from stores and restaurants that use products from local farmers, let them know why you’re supporting them. If businesses know that this matters to customers, they will make a consistent effort to source better food.

4. Educate yourself about food justice and food sovereignty. Follow and support groups who are working to make our food system more equitable, like the Food Equity Advisory Board here in St. Louis.

5. VOTE. Elect people who understand how the food system impacts human health, equity, and the environment. Mark November 3 on your calendar and make a plan to vote!