Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
I got to go to the Indiana State Fair last week. I knew what to expect, but still would like to see some things changed, or at least added. The purpose of the fair depends on who you talk to, but I would say that the official purpose is to promote and celebrate Indiana agriculture. The type of agriculture represented was for the most part industrial commodity crop agriculture. I would have liked to have seen more of a focus of real food agriculture, including both small scale and industrial scale farming. To the State Fair’s credit, there was an exhibition of local value-added producers and my favorite beekeeper offered scrumptious samples. But where were the produce stands and exhibitions on small farmers? I know Indiana’s feels are mostly taken over by corn and soybeans, but small farmers are a vibrant and growing part of Indiana agriculture.
I know that State Fairs are famous for their bad, but oh-so-good food, but still, it is amazing to me that an event celebrating agriculture has such bad food. For the most part, food choices were slim when it came to real food. There was a stand I heard about later (I did not find it while I was there) that sold relatively healthy options. It would have been nice to see more local food businesses there selling clean, local food.
Finally, although the fair did have a hunger relief effort, which involved donating food towards hunger relief efforts, there was no real focus on social justice and addressing hunger issues. I had to dig deep to find out about the fair’s food donations. In terms of exhibitions, as far as I know, there was nothing. Nothing but a huge cheese sculpture, wasting two tons of cheddar. Some sort of exhibition about social justice as it relates to food would have been fantastic, even if it was just some basic education about emergency hunger relief.
Please share your thoughts. Has anyone gone to State Fairs that have done a better job in any of these areas? I would love to hear about it!