Saturday, July 7, 2012

Warning: Soap Box

I have watched every food documentary that I could find. I've read books by Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin and Alice Waters. I follow them all on Twitter. I've read and watched interviews. I feel like I am fairly educated as a consumer about where food comes from and how it is produced. I know what CAFO, GMO, GE and Bt stand for. As a family we have tried to "do better". We grow a garden, raise chickens and dairy goats, our meat is either purchased from a local farm or is venison that was hunted by my husband and family. With all of that said, we are still far from "perfect".
Today it finally hit me. We must care less about changing the giant food system and asking our government to regulate them differently. Politics and big business have taken over the country's agricultural system. I've always thought that's what needed changing. Don't get me wrong, as consumers we can help along that change by purchasing organic and grass fed, but that's not enough. I've always felt that I should buy local when I could and grow what I can, but today I had an "aha moment". We MUST grow what we can and depend on our local farmer to ensure our food safety. I realize this is not new. Duh! I would have a "Buy Local, Eat Fresh" sticker on my mini-van if my husband would let me (he's anti all bumper stickers). But I guess I never really committed to it. Like most of America I use the excuse that it's expensive or that so much is unavailable to me. I have to step out and make the change. For real. I can make cheddar crackers for littles instead of buying Annie's Bunnies. I can make icecream or buy the local creamery's at the farm stand.  I don't need to eat ice cream with wreckless abandon. If I pay $7 for a 1/2 gallon I bet I won't eat it all in a week.Well, isn't that a novel idea! Again, duh. 
This is not me posting to say that we are setting a 100 mile rule as a family and by no means is this me saying that I've got it all figured out. This is simply me saying, with you as witnesses, that I am ready to step up my game. Can you imagine how much of a difference we could have on our local economy if we chose to buy from our neighbors? If instead of going to Walmart we went to a farmer or sewist or candle maker? If instead of throwing away we paid for repairs. What happened to the days when you bought a quality pair of shoes and took them to a cobbler for repair? Do we even still have cobblers? We could change our part of the world.
 Sustainable farming can feed the world, it can feed our country, state and county. You know what it would require? More farmers. Wow, more jobs! How bout that?! Instead of packing 6000 pigs in a garage and having one guy push buttons that control everything, let's employ a dozen people to tend to the land and raise healthy pigs. Better yet,  raise entire food systems, pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys, and the grass to feed them all.
 A garden large enough to feed my family thru the year will require a ton of work. We aren't there yet, but we can certainly move toward it. That's where I think alot of people bow out of this idea, the work. It's alot of work to produce food. It's easier to buy it and ignore the work. Why do you think a free-range chicken costs $15 while the one in the store is $6? I gaurantee the farmer is making WAY less than Tyson. How can they sell their's for so little?
I'm ready. I'm ready to know my neighbor and embrace the village mentality. I am ready to barter before I buy, reuse before I recycle. I am ready to be better steward of this earth we have been blessed with. I am ready to appreciate the food I eat because I know the work that it required.

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