Food becomes policy initiative in Howard, not just something to eat [Editorial]

Howard County is staking out nutrition as an arena of government involvement to an unusual degree.

In May, the county unveiled its Roving Radish food delivery system. This is a refrigerated truck that delivers fresh food to participating families at five locations around the county. The kit of pre-cut food, which sells for $24 to participating families (discounted by subsidy down to $10 to families that demonstrate need), is intended to feed four people eight different meals.

There are a lot of fingerprints on this project. As much as possible, the food comes from county farms. Inmates at the Howard County Detention Center prepared the food for distribution. Each kit contains recipes and nutritional information specific to the food it contains.

More food initiatives may be in the pipeline. The county now has a 24-member Food Policy Task Force whose aim is "to develop the best, most forward-thinking food system possible in Howard County." Members include farmers, restaurateurs, master gardeners, social service professionals and economic development specialists.

Plans are for the task force to develop a "food hub," a centralized master distribution site that will supply a broad range of consumers. Curious about community-supported agriculture (CSA), farmers markets and organic grocers? The county can also help you there at its web site The site lists six CSA farms in the county where consumers can purchase a stake in the farm in return for regular delivery of produce, eggs, cheese and other food produced on the farm.

In all these food policy initiatives, the county is clearly moving well past other jurisdictions. Why is it doing this? The short answer may be, because it can. Howard is a county with the wherewithal to be ambitious in its social policy. We think that's what most want who live in a county with "Choose Civility" as its motto.

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