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Ways to Engage for Individual and Collective Impact Toward a Better System

The global challenges we face sometimes seem too big to comprehend, much less solve. We asked our Head Shepherdess Jacqueline Smith how she believes people can individually and collectively be empowered to positively impact our food system.
sheep grazing at the central grazing company farm

The global challenges we face sometimes seem too big to comprehend, much less solve. Do you ever feel that way, too? 

When we at Central Grazing are overwhelmed, we remind ourselves that we’re not alone. We are surrounded by our flock — the sheep, as well as a group of like-minded, concerned people who want to take action and make a difference. We asked our Head Shepherdess Jacqueline Smith how she believes people can individually and collectively be empowered to have a positive impact.

What food choices can people make to reduce waste and address the inequality in our current food system?

We are all more than consumers, but we have purchasing power, and the choices we make with our purchases matter. When you support local producers, you support a system that gives more of each dollar to someone in your community, infuses the local economy that the producer relies upon, and reduces overall food miles and other environmental impacts. 

Learning to cook from raw fruits, vegetables, and meats are important in making this switch. It allows you to cook seasonally, which makes supporting local farmers and your local food supply easier. 

Which meat cuts you buy also matters. Being open to cooking a greater variety of cuts means you can choose cuts that often otherwise go to waste at the processing facility or store. For lamb, you can start with our nose-to-tail guide. Our Lamb Box subscriptions also help you learn to cook the whole animal. Each box comes with recipes for every cut included. Within about six months, you’ll receive cuts and recipes for an entire lamb.

What additional shifts or bigger-picture thinking about our food does this require?

When have you thought about the whole animal, outside of the meat? We often know to buy local for your farmer for your food. We understand that buying local helps with climate, but clothing also comes from the earth. It can come from animal or fiber sources, and there are ways to buy food for local economies. Utilization of the whole animal is critical to the sustainability of our meat production; the hide and bones are all valuable resources. Central Grazing has leather as part of our product offering for this reason. 

Locally, we are working on a feasibility study for a processing facility that will be an Animal Welfare Approved facility with components in place to help us utilize the whole animal, including the hides, in our local community.  

How can people get engaged directly in collective and community action?

As a business, and as a leader, being active in the local community matters. Central Grazing collaborates with businesses in our region, hires from within our region, and tries to create jobs and supply chains that employ and support our community members.

Everyone can engage in local decision-making by showing up at meetings, paying attention to who gets elected, and keeping up with what is on the meeting docket. People can talk to local leaders about climate change, food justice, food access, and share their individual realities so those leaders can make informed decisions that reflect our needs and values.

I also encourage folks to find like-minded and values-aligned community leaders and businesses. Our newsletter and Facebook page are examples of spaces we have created to build connection. We have the power as a collective to change things in our local community, which echoes to bigger changes at national and global scales. 

sheep grazing on midwestern grass under a blue sky, on a farm that practices ethical animal farming in lawrence, kansas