This was submitted as an idea to the Politifest 2012 Idea Tournament. VOSD members will vote on the best ideas and on Sept. 19 we’ll announce six contenders (Not a member? Join now to vote). At Politifest on Sept. 29, each of the six finalists will have five minutes to pitch their idea to a panel. The panel rates the ideas and two finalists advance. The crowd at Politifest will vote on a winner. The winner will receive an “idea-inspired” trophy custom-designed by former City Councilwoman Donna Frye. VOSD CEO Scott Lewis will also write about the winner’s idea.

Eat Here Now is an investigation into how we can re-imagine our cities to be near food, because the benefits of growing food locally are profound:

The average meal in the United States travels more than 1,500 miles from farm to table. What if we reduce that to five miles and the cost of transportation and source of fuel becomes irrelevant?

The typical food garden uses about half the water than a landscape of lawn and shrubs. What if our water consumption was more in tune with the water that falls naturally, and our front yards qualified for agriculture water rates?

Public health issues such as diabetes and obesity are strongly linked to the food that we eat. What if every resident of San Diego had easy and affordable access to fresh food?

Philosophers — and marketing gurus — tell us that our ability to care about distant places and people depends on feeling it in our guts, and that our capacity to care develops first in the domesticated environment, here at home. What if our everyday environment could help us see and feel the human costs of rising corn prices in Mexico, for example, and link to distant people and places?

Built-out communities, like North Park or City Heights or dozens more, have few open spaces waiting to become urban farms. But what if the capacity to grow our own food is hiding in plain sight? Because communities like North Park do have extraordinarily wide streets, miles of public right-of-way, football fields-worth of flat roofs, and acres of front and back yards. What if the public reclaimed public space? What if streets + roofs + yards = food? And local food = fuel savings + water savings + healthier communities + social justice? We can start right here, right now.

Leslie Ryan submitted this idea to the Politifest 2012 Idea Tournament. Join us on Sept. 29!

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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