Ali Long

Co-founder Local Food Alliance

Why were you inspired to found the Local Food Alliance?

After 10 years in the field of philanthropy education and change making, I realized that one issue area in particular held the biggest potential for positive change - food systems. If we could return to regional food sheds, instead of the global system that emerged from the industrial revolution, we could address a huge number of social, environmental and governance problems that now plague our nation and our world. Our current global system replaces nutrient density and flavor with disease-causing preservatives, chemicals, and fillers; factory farming is unspeakably inhumane to livestock; mono crops use inputs toxic to soil, water and air; volume-driven enterprise exploits workers and immigrants at each point in the system, from production to distribution to access. If this litany of systemic problems stems from our food system, therein can we also find solutions. I started LFA to bring awareness to this “ace in the hole.” I want people of all ages to know we can all help solve these sometimes overwhelming issues by simply “voting” with our forks. I want the security and consistency of a year-round food economy, and the community that arises from consumers knowing the people who produce clean, nourishing food for our families.‍

What does community resilience mean to you?

Community resilience stems from a solid, stable foundation of connected citizens who support each other. This support comes through community and commerce. Idaho is an agricultural state, graced with the capacity for food production. Our community can be secure, vibrant and strong - resilient - by cultivating our unique capacities, and respectfully leveraging the natural resources inherent to our place.

What LFA work are you most proud of?

I’m proud of our systemic approach. We have created and fostered important and lasting connections among producers, processors, distributors, wholesalers and retailers, consumers and efforts to repurpose nutrients. We have introduced our community at large to the faces, names and stories of the folks who feed us.

Looking back, what is your favorite LFA moment?

It’s hard to choose just one, but early on at our Farmers’ Market booth, a 10 year old boy puzzled over our graphic that depicts the food system - a circle of arrows between “Produce, process, distribute, access, consume, recover” - and asked, “where is the beginning and where is the end?” It was exciting to see him begin to consider the concept and complexity of a system. Like the chicken and the egg, we had succeeded in giving him true food for thought!