Markus Lattner is improvement manager for a Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) farm in Pennsylvania, where he helps streamline processes in order to keep everything working efficiently. In this capacity, Markus Lattner combines his commitment to the environment with a dedication to quality produce. Markus Lattner spoke recently with InformatioNation about a concept that’s close to his heart.
InformatioNation: Explain to us what “slow food” is.
Markus Lattner: In short, it’s a movement to encourage people to think about the origin of food and the impact on the environment.
InformatioNation: Does the term relate to “fast food” somehow?
Markus Lattner: In a sense, yes. We live in a fast food society, and it’s that mentality that is harming us.
InformatioNation: How so?
Markus Lattner: By getting away from having food shipped from far away, we avoid the negative environmental impact of cargo ships, which emit dangerous chemicals.
InformatioNation: Plus, the food arrives more quickly.
Markus Lattner: Good point. It also tends to taste fresher. People are usually pleasantly surprised when they compare produce from across the world to produce from across the street.
InformatioNation: So with all of the obvious benefits, most businesses buy food locally, right?
Markus Lattner: Actually, no. Several factors have the industry leaning toward importing food from afar, including a higher availability of shipping containers.
InformatioNation: But shipping can be dangerous to the environment.
Markus Lattner: Those with an eye to the environment are definitely concerned about the impact of carrier ships. Studies have shown these chemicals are dangerous to those inhale them—even deadly.
InformatioNation: So buying locally not only saves money but also potentially, lives?
Markus Lattner: In a ‘big picture’ kind of way, yes.
InformatioNation: It can also be risky, when earthquakes, tornadoes, and wars interrupt exports.
Markus Lattner: Correct. By depending on local businesses, businesses avoid interruption in food supply due to factors outside of their control.
InformatioNation: Is there a way to push businesses toward buying locally?
Markus Lattner: As fuel prices decrease, the price of non-local food will decrease, as well, which will lure businesses away from buying locally.
InformatioNation: So local businesses will have a hard time competing?
Markus Lattner: If local prices are significantly higher, of course merchants will choose to go with the cheaper of the two choices.
InformatioNation: There has to be a way to turn that around.
Markus Lattner: I believe that if the government would tax oil, rather than subsidizing it, local businesses would lean back toward buying locally, giving local suppliers the edge.
Markus Lattner knows the value of local produce, having tasted his share in the Schuykill County area. He has a long history in the manufacturing industry and is dedicated to applying lean manufacturing principles to local farming.