Looking Back and Looking forward: Our 2011 New Year's Resolutions

In preparation for this New Year's blog post, I went back and read what I wrote last year at this time. (If you haven't read it yet, Shari's terrific, extensive 2010 good food recap from last week is well worth your time.) I'm the kind of guy who holds himself accountable, and I'm not about to make a bunch of new resolutions without seeing how I did on the old ones. Here are last year's New Year's resolutions, along my my own view on how we did: 

To Continue to Build Bridges
There are so many great farmers, restaurants, businesses, and organizations around the country working to improve our food system, to increase access and education, and to make our food safe. We will continue to reach out to others in order to learn, to build meaningful connections, and to make a difference.

How we did: We continued to build bridges, for sure. We've written for Civil Eats and the Huffington Post, expanding our reach and our range to places we'd previously only dreamed of. We've worked with IATP to create a Facebook presence and a series of posts about the farm bill to help get people riled up for 2012. We've worked closely with the Ramsey County Library system to bring food movies and classes to the 'burbs. We've partnered with Organic Valley and the Minneapolis Public Schools to teach people the value of a good school lunch, and we've rewarded people for eating lunch with their kids. We've also built strong relationships with many of the terrific co-ops in our state. And did I mention our 2nd annual pig roast and potluck, which gathered more than 150 people from around the Twin Cities to enjoy local food?

But we've also taken our eye off the ball at times, too easily distracted by the next deadline or event. We've spent a lot of time figuring out what's next without always focusing on what's directly in front of us. 

To Address the Connection Between Food and Health
The wellness - and healing - aspects of the food we eat profoundly affect ourselves, our children, and our communities, and we're excited to explore them more in the coming months.

How we did: We did some good work in this area, even adding a Health section to our website. Jill Grunewald's "For the Health of It" series has been a success too -- we now have a writer who knows all about the connection between food and health and isn't shy about sharing her smarts. Is there more we can be doing in this area? Absolutely!

To Continue to Invite the Conversation
We're committed to creating a community and a conversation - online and offline - that encourages people to ask questions, support each other, get great information, and make informed choices. It's critical that we share experiences, eat together, and learn from each other.

How we did: I struggle with this one on a regular basis. At SGT, we're continually trying to strike a balance between content that invites all readers, like recipes and green tips, with content that might be a bit more challenging and engaging for those of you who want to dig a little bit deeper. We'll continue to look for balance, and also for ways to be more inviting. We've added a whole lot of new writers and perspectives, which has helped. Now we need to find more ways for more people to participate -- without losing our focus.

To Dig Deeper
We're committed to making good food choices, to basing our thoughts on reliable information, and to sharing what we learn - even when it challenges conventional wisdom (and/or our own).

How we did: Again, we're looking for balance here. We've focused on school lunch and the farm bill, two areas that are in desperate need of attention. Can we dig even deeper on these issues? Absolutely -- we're just getting started.

To Can Truckloads of Tomatoes
This is the year, it really is.
Local tomatoes, year-round baby.

How we did: Terrible! In fact, I couldn't have done worse. I didn't can a single tomato this year. What a loser!

There you have it. 2010 was our first full calendar year, and I think we've done some good work. Still, more than ever, we've got lots to do. As I consider the future, I can't think of three more important areas of focus than the ones we picked last year (these themes came up in our recent reader survey as well):

  • Focusing on Food and Health - providing more useful information about why eating good food matters
  • Inviting the Conversation - connecting with local organizations, providers, producers, and events around the country
  • Digging Deeper - Digging below the surface on important issues to help people understand what's at stake and what to do about it

Is it cheating if we pick the same resolutions this year? Too bad. It's my party -- and you're all invited. Happy 2011!


Lee Zukor is the founder of Simple, Good, and Tasty. E-mail him at or follow him on Twitter.