Michael Pollan said it best in his book "The Omnivore’s Dilemma". He said that each and every day we make a choice on what to eat and that choice has a greater environmental impact then we think. For some there is no thought of where the food comes from just who is preparing it for consumption. Pollan was pointing out that the "Where the food came from" question is not present in the day to day normal cognitive process of deciding what to eat.
As a nation of eaters most of us don't realize that the food choices we make affect our environment. We have been so far removed from the making of our food that we have no idea what goes in it. Not only has this been perpetrated by the IFC but it was done specially to avoid the kind of scrutiny that the local farm movement is generating.
If we don’t see that beef processing companies import beef from other countries to make our hamburgers how can we make a value judgment at purchase time. I’ll bet you think that when you buy a hamburger, that it comes from a cow that at least lived in North America. That is not necessarily the case as has been recently pointed out in a lawsuit against a big meat packer.
No thought is given that the beef patty sitting on the bun before us has a relationship to the raised hormone levels in the water table and estrogen levels in male bass. But at its base that is what our choice to eat comes down to. Every day we decide to further the cause of local sustainable agriculture or benefit the Industrial Food Complex.
On one hand you have the small independent farmer that is trying to squeeze out a living by carefully tending the land and their animals for social, environmental, economic and human sustainability. On the other side is the vast IFC with ever increasing ways of chemically altering food, milk and juices for the sole purpose of producing these products in the least expensive way to gain the most profit. That in it of itself isn't bad, but it is the consistent failures resulting in illnesses, death and environmental degradation that make their practices deplorable.
That is how in the past most robber-barons made their huge fortunes. They took advantage of the less fortunate, less intelligent and in some cases just destroyed everything a person owned for their own personal gain. The cost to and negative impact on people and the environment does not matter. I mean the moniker says it all “robber-barons”. Food is one of the last great resources to be raped and pillaged so a few of our elite can make their personal fortunes greater.
You have a choice; you can make a difference globally by being just one person acting locally. It is happening now and has been happening slowly for at least the last twenty years. Those that are on the front lines see the progress. A couple of years ago, California registered the first increase in agriculture land in their State; stopping a decline that lasted decades. It is growing to such a point that the USDA is starting to take interest in the numbers.
The USDA recently sent out a mandatory census that looked at detail level data on growing and production and they are starting to offer incentives to help promote the local farm movement. Seven years ago I never heard of financial assistance for organic growers and or vegetable growers in general. It was usually just aimed at grains, water conservation, and nutrient management. These past two years I've seen two programs to help local vegetable farms.
Things are changing but you the individual is needed to participate. Barbara Kingsolver, in her book “Animal, Vegetable Miracle” wrote about the year she and her family spent eating seasonal, local foods. In it, not only did she highlight the adjustment to seasonality of foods but also to the plight of the local farm.
So the choice is ours to make. Do you want an open food source where you know where your food came from and can go to the source or do you want what is going on now? Recent news stories recounted the poisoning of a female who ate bad beef. Now that the court case has gone public the manufacturer had to divulge that the meat that made up this ground beef came from animal parts from two different countries, neither being America. If this isn’t an example of the IFC buying junk to put into the food supply to make a profit then I’m at a loss.
But it is us, you, me, and everyone that has a stake in this fight for healthy food. Never before have so many people been part of the same group that has the opportunity to be part of a grass roots effort. We All Eat. We can really make a change to affect our future and truly make a difference in the history of man. I am talking about the safety of food and the preservation of our ecology. We might like different things but we all eat. If you just chose local once a day over the IFC imagine the change we could all affect. I’m not saying that everything consumed should be local but if a lot of our choices are for local foods then the IFC’s will take notice and act accordingly. Of course we could have an outcome like free range chickens (see. Beware of Free Range) but I hold out hope for a better result.
It is just one choice made multiple times each day. As an individual you can choose whether to promote the IFC and all the damage being done to the environment (think feminized bass) or you can choose to support your local community, local families, local businesses and your local food producers. The money you spend at the farm gets spent in the community by the farmer. The money stays in a local bank; and is used to hire local labor be it skilled or general and used to purchase supplies from local businesses.
It is your choice, start slowly make a resolution to eat at least one local meal a day. We are not asking for you to be like Barbara Kingsolver, but to give serious thought about your children’s, grand-children’s and great-grandchildren’s health and the environment we will leave them.
Choose to make sure the future generations grow up in the least toxic setting possible. Become aware of how the IFC is poisoning us and the environment for their short term profit. If that doesn’t get you motivated to support your local sustainable farm we will all fail our future generations.
Buy Local-From a farmer you know and trust, not a chain selling the concept