Seven Springs Speaker Spotlight: Robin Mather, Local Food Advocate

Reader Contribution by Erica Binns
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Get to know Robin Mather of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

What are you going to speak about at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR?

I’m going to talk about how the food sovereignty movement can get Big Ag and Big Government out of your kitchen. I’ll have information about how the tiny town of Sedgwick, Maine, has passed a law which forbids federal interference in local food sales, so local dairymen can sell raw milk to customers who want that, for example. I’ll describe how the law was drafted and why, how the new law is playing out, and have handouts on how the audience can get their communities to adopt similar laws and ordinances.

What are you most looking forward to sharing with FAIR attendees?

I am so looking forward to sharing the passion for sustainability with FAIR attendees. It will be the first time I’ve found myself in a sea of like-minded people, and that is so thrilling to me. I read the other day that it takes only 10 percent of a population believing in an idea before it reaches a tipping point and causes society as a whole to adopt the idea. I think we’re getting close to that with sustainability and other green thinking.

Tell us about your background with your particular topic.

I’ve been writing about food for more than 30 years for newspapers and magazines. My first book, A Garden of Unearthly Delights, was published in 1995, and it was one of the first books for the general public to talk about genetic engineering of crops and livestock, long before GMO foods reached the public’s consciousness. My second book, The Feast Nearby, was published in May; it’s a collection of essays and recipes from a year of eating locally in Michigan on just $40 a week. I wrote it partly to dispute the newly popular notion that eating locally is only for rich foodie elites. So food and its related social and political issues have been deeply important to me for many years.

Why should fairgoers attend your presentation?

I think we have reached a point in American history when we must begin to act – sometimes ferociously – to push back on overbearing government regulation and Big Ag interference with access to good, healthful food for all. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are without jobs; the federal government nearly defaulted on its obligations; every week we hear of contaminated food recalls, and learn of the health costs of GMO and industrial foods and crops. I find it unconscionable that precious resources – our tax dollars – are spent to harass raw milk dairies in raids with guns drawn, and to protect an industrial food system that is clearly making us sick. It is inexplicable to me that the lawmakers and the regulators whose salaries are paid by us, with our tax money, steadfastly refuse to represent our interests. I think it’s time for all of us to insist on change, starting now. Food sovereignty is a vigorous first step.

How will you get to the FAIR, and how far do you have to travel?

I’ll be flying in from Topeka, KS, where the offices of MOTHER EARTH NEWS are.

What are you most looking forward to at the FAIR?

I’m really looking forward to the sponsor and vendor exhibits, and certainly hope to hear a great many of the speakers, although I know I’ll have other duties besides my presentation.

What advice do you have for attendees?

Wear comfortable shoes. Bring a backpack or messenger bag for all the information you’ll pick up. Make sure you have small bills to pay vendors for food, drink and other purchases. Don’t wait too long to eat, and drink a lot of water, even if it’s not hot. Above all, Be Nice.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only one thing, what would you choose?

A small knife or hatchet would be handy. If I had one, I could just about create everything else I needed, from rope and string to fish nets and traps to clothing. I sure would miss paper, though.

Thanks, Robin. We’ll see you at the FAIR!

Please visit the FAIR website for more information about the Seven Springs, Pa. FAIR September 24-25, and upcoming FAIRs in other locations. Tickets are on sale now.

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