Journalist Eli Saslow Shows Us Our Food System In Real Time

Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting this week for a series of six articles on food stamps. Before you stop reading because you know how bad the news is going to be and you know you can't do anything about it, please allow me to make a case for your reading these superbly written stories, linked here.

My case is short:

As Wendell Berry said a year ago during the first Berry Conference, there are no big solutions to big problems. Instead, he said, big problems are solved in relationships. In good company. In loving connections to neighbors. See? We can do that. We can relate to each other. We can love and connect to at least some of our neighbors. We can take small steps. So it's safe to read Eli Saslow's stories.

Second, and last for this particular case: We have the means to feed ourselves. All of us. Everybody in. We have amnesia on this capacity, but our land and climate remain ready for us to feed ourselves and each other. We have options beyond those that dominate the kitchens and calendars of SNAP benefits recipients today. Recognizing what's possible and working toward it are the brilliant work of the several steering committees that run Community Farmers Market in Bowling Green. That same recognition and dedication underlie the beautiful work of the family that created 4th Street Farm in downtown Lexington. This can be anyone's goodness: offering an extra tomato, pitching in for an hour on a neighbor's new garden plot, or sharing extra cornbread with a nearby family.

The industrial food complex, the SNAP program, states hungry for federal money, grocery stores and banks that depend on the monthly food stamp infusion—individual mortals cannot fix that. Let's do the small things we can do, build the bonds of affection and relationship Wendell champions, and take heart. And let's appreciate the power of journalism and of Eli Saslow himself to frame and name what our neighbors and friends experience right now that deserves our small acts.


Rona RobertsComment