There are over two million farms in America and the vast majority of them are smaller family owned farms. Agriculture is vital to the long term growth of our economy, protecting our environment, as well as our overall health and quality of life. Many of these farms are economically challenged because many of them use natural conservation methods without the use of hormones and chemicals to grow their crops and livestock.
Meanwhile larger farm operations are using chemicals and methods that are poisoning our soil, water and probably us! Also, the mass produced chemically laced food that we all have have eaten doesn’t taste very good. One of the main reasons why we allow this to go on is that we’ve become a nation of consumers addicted to produce perfection, perfectly shaped and blemish-free fruits and vegetables, available all year long. That’s a tall order, to be sure, and American food growers, processors, and shippers have done an admirable job of catering to our every whim. We have become our own worst enemies.
Want juicy red tomatoes in the middle of February? No problem. Who knows where they came from, but we all know that they are neither red or juicy. Where ever they were shipped from we know that they were picked before ripe, treated with some kind of gas to make them slightly red. And they taste awful. The average mouthful of food travels about 1,300 miles to get to your dinner table, according to the World Watch Institute.
Of course, a lot of fruits and vegetables don’t make the entire trip in original form. Along the way, they are canned, bottled, frozen, or otherwise processed and packaged. For example, more than half of all the fruits and vegetables Americans consume go through some processing and packaging before being purchased and eaten. Do you see where we am going here? Each step of the food-distribution process, growing, processing, transporting, warehousing,and selling requires a massive amount of energy and resources and in some cases provide food products that don’t taste very good and are not very good for us.
What are we suggesting is this. We should eat seasonally. Reduce the amount of processed foods that we eat and support our farm communities by purchasing directly from them whenever possible. There are farmers markets in close proximity to most cites in America. We should use them on a regular basis. I know that it’s a little more of a hassle than going to you local grocery store, but look at it as a field trip. Pack up the kids and make a day of it. Farmers markets are fun. They are full of great food and interesting people. Get out and celebrate life!
Another way to get some great food and support you local farmers is by joining a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture program. You can buy a share which consists of a large weekly box of seasonal farm fresh products. You get a box each week during the season. The boxes typically contain a variety of fruits and vegetables which include, lettuces, tomatoes, radishes, berries, peaches, apples, heirloom plants, herbs, grains and flours. Some farms even offer poultry, variety meats, cheese’s and eggs. The benefits are:
- Eat ultra fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables that are full of flavor.
- Get exposed to new foods.
- You usually get to visit the farm, at least once per season.
- Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows your food and learn more about how food is grown.
- Support your local economy and family owned farm.
Products that are grown by family owned farmers are better for you, your family, and the country.