As reported last week, the proposed 2010 King County budget cuts could completely eliminate Puget Sound Fresh, the consumer education program promoting local food and farms. Among PSF's biggest projects is the Eat Local For Thanksgiving campaign, which encourages people to pledge to have at least one locally grown food item on their Thanksgiving table.
The Eat Local pledge is a campaign with some good momentum and serious potential. Now in its third year and currently in full swing, they set an ambitious goal this year of doubling last year's efforts and securing a minimum of 5,000 pledges throughout the state. Among those who have pledged to eat locally this holiday? A few local politicians including Richard Conlin, the freshly re-elected 12-year veteran of the City Council and Council President, and Mike McGinn who, at this point, stands a good chance of being mayor.The county budget is set to be approved and adopted by Monday, November 23. It's perfectly and painfully ironic that just three days after these deep, across-the-board cuts are set (which, unfortunately, seems very likely), the county council president will be sitting down giving thanks for a meal inspired in part by a county-funded program that's just been killed off. Mary Embleton, director of Cascade Harvest Coalition, which oversees Puget Sound Fresh, puts it another way: "That's $125,000 dollars wasted."
The lesson in all this? "This is an opportunity to educate our elected officials--many of whom are on board with our mission--and shed light on how we are funded, how tenuous these important programs are," says Embleton. "Up until now, a lot of them just didn't know."