Every morsel of food you eat, every bite of food you feed to your family was at it’s point of origin, grown, raised, caught or harvested by someone. Most likely this person was a farmer. Farmers are the essential ingredient to our ability to eat. Farms from enormous to micro-sized all play a part in our food system. The vast majority of farmers are extremely hard working, intelligent, dedicated professionals of their trade. Since a vast majority of citizens aren’t able to grow their own food a farmer is pretty essential… well… to life. So it seems farms, farming, farmers are pretty darn important!
When you are purchasing food, say an apple, a head of broccoli, a carton of milk, a steak, or a dozen eggs you are supporting a farmers work. You are not just purchasing something to put into your stomach, you are purchasing nutrients to fuel your body. Preferably not just any nutrients but ones that will fuel your body well. Food filled with quality nutrients has the capacity to bring you good health, well being, greater productivity & a high quality of life. WOW!!!
If this is true, which it is, why is the pervasive reason to choose a certain food item often based on whether it is “cheap” or not. In other products we purchase most of us know that cheap isn’t always, or rarely is, the best value. Value is every bit as much about quality as it is about price.
Often times, not always, a cheap price can be an indicator of quality, or the lack of it. Ask yourself why is the product cheap? Is it old? Does it contain an inferior quality of ingredients; or possibly ingredients from a lab not a farm at all? Are the farms/farmers growing it concerned with the quality of the soil and growing nutrient dense food? How do their farming practices impact the soil, water & air quality? Are the farms that are providing animals or animal products providing a quality habitat/life for those animals? Were the workers on those farms treated well and receive fair wages so they too can take care of their families? There are a lot of important hidden issues involved in price.
Returning to a food system of local farms producing high quality fresh food items for their communities seems essential. Farmers Markets, Food Co-ops, CSA’s and other Direct from Farm programs are growing in popularity. In a system where the farmer can receive a fair price/living wage for their work and the consumer has access to gorgeous, flavorful, high quality nutritious food, everyone wins. Suddenly low price is not the deciding factor, it is quality. Quality of food. Quality of health. Quality of community. Quality of life for all, producer & customer alike.
If you haven’t yet joined the local food movement make this the year you start. Find a market that sources from local farmers, a Farmer’s Market, a CSA or other Farm Program, or buy Direct from a local Farm. Be willing to spend that extra 50 cents on a head of lettuce or extra $1 for a dozen eggs. You will be awakened to the incredible flavor of truly fresh well raised food. If you have already begun to spend your food dollars more locally add something new this year. Try to source some meat or dairy from a local farm, fruit from a local orchard, local flowers too! The extra effort you put into sourcing local food is so worth it!
-Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food-
Unfortunately not everyone has access to good quality food. It is also quite difficult to stretch a thin budget. Both of these are difficult issues with no clear answers. But it does seem to me that access to quality nutritious food should be a priority in our society. What are your thoughts?