I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to many parts of the world despite being in my twenties. Something that always struck me was how so many people in so many countries, which spanned all demographics, have a fundamental understanding and connection to the food that is grown on their countries’ home soil. When I think back to these conversations I always remember how proud they were to talk about the crops they were famous for and how they were the “best” in the world. Coffee and tea in Rwanda, chocolate in Ecuador and radicchio in Italy are some that come to mind. I always remember reflecting on these conversations and wondering why I could’t think of what food my country is proud of producing. Sure, the US grows a lot of potatoes in Idaho, oranges in Florida, grapes, cashews, strawberries in California, corn in Nebraska and so on, but we are disconnected greatly from all of these. Those strawberry quarts in the supermarket come with controversial pesticide usage and labor violation baggage. We rely on a migrant labor force through seasonal work visas to pick our fruits all over the country (which is in jeopardy given our current closed borders). The large monocultures in the midwest are so mechanized that it has led and continues to lead to the fundamental demise of rural civilization. The concentrated animal feeding operations have a laundry list of reasons to be ashamed of. Earl Butz, the Secretary of Agriculture in the 1970’s famously told farmers “go big or get out” in a nationwide effort to industrialize farming activities. The ultimate product of this policy resulted in 75% of our food being produced by 5% of farms. Essentially, there was no place for small farms in the food system. It is no surprise that most Americans lost or maybe never had a connection to their food that they consume on a daily basis. However, in the last 10-15 years small farms are seeing a resurgence. This can be attributed to a higher demand for local farms’ goods. I believe the demand has increased because Americans are seeking a connection to their food, just like I have seen from all over the world. It is human nature to feel connected to the food that one consumes. So with all that being said, thank you for supporting local small farms. I am excited to share anecdotes about how your food is being grown and hopefully we learn and live happily and healthily together as we continue to strive to build a food system that we are proud of!
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