Sunday, October 16, 2011

Food, what is it good for?

Are we at war with our food or what? Listeria in cantaloupes and cheese. E-coli in lettuce and beef. Salmonella in eggs and chicken.

The world has come a long way in fighting disease and pests, but we’ve also created new problems. Our reliance on mega-agriculture where crops on grown on a huge scale with mechanized production and long haul transportation increases time from farm to table and may allow some bacteria to multiply and spread.

Pesticides and herbicides have led to resistant weeds and insects that then lead to a new spiral of poisons. Are you really at ease eating animals treated with growth hormones and antibiotics? It’s a common practice.

Since this year’s Blog Action Day is all about food, I thought I’d post some things ordinary people might do to make the world a better place.

I prefer not to politicize this blog or make choices for readers who have differing views on social action. For some people it will make sense to protest the corporate nature of today’s farming. For others, a donation to an international aid organization fighting famine will be right.


But what I’m going to suggest are things everyone can do without regard to political or social views:
If you have a garden or even a planter box grow some of your own food.
Frequent your local farmer’s market, thus supporting small-scale farmers.
Buy organically-grown if you can afford to.
Check your supermarket for locally-grown produce, which has been increasing in several stores I shop at. Ask you supermarket to start the practice if they haven’t. What this does is support smaller farms, cut down time to table and decrease use of fossil fuel to transport.
The cost of naturally-grown meat or hormone-free milk can be high, but I’ve found I can buy it often by keeping an eye out for sales. They are pretty frequent.

This may sound simplistic, but if a lot of people take small steps, they add up to leaps forward.
End of soap box probably until Earth Day when I’m compelled to remind everyone to keep our home planet clean and safe.


Donna said...

I agree completely. I just ate our last grapefruit from the fridge; our tomatoes and bell peppers are still producing. (My husband grows everything in pots.) Lemons and apples are plentiful, and persimmons will be ripe for the holidays. (Persimmon pie is a treat, like pumpkin but silkier with condensed milk.) Okay, so growing is easier to do in Southern California ...

Liza said...

Since I essentially live in the shade, I struggle to grow much. but I just walked out to my herb boxes to pluck the last of the basil, and some Italian Parsley and oregano to spice up my tomato sauce. Even that little bit feels (and tastes) good.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Great post, Tricia! Once in a while we need to climb on the soapbox and get a little political. You know I can't help doing that myself once and a while, even though such posts receive the least comment.

You've touched upon an important subject near and dear to me. The problems with our food are far reaching and endemic, starting with the farm program that subsidizes the wrong kind of agriculture and makes it possible for mega farms that practice poor animal husbandry to exist.

Buying local and organic is not expensive if you factor in the environmental and health costs of consuming fast food and pesticide/herbicide-laden foods produced cross country or on the other side of the world.

We can each do our part, and yes, if possible grow what you can and support the farmer down the road or in the next county. Eat in season and read labels. Watch out for things like high fructose corn syrup and ingredients you cannot pronounce.

Today we are eating cabbage, beets and apples, not strawberries and asparagus. We need to get political about our food! Thank you.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Donna: You are an inspiration with that garden bursting with produce. If more people realized how much more flavor was in tomatoes or peaches harvested when ripe I believe they'd find room to grow food in their yards like you have.

Liza: Herbs are my favorites to grow and harvest as needed. I love to make things with fresh basil. Yum.

Yvonne: *grins* I knew how you'd react being from farm country as you are.
I had beets tonight, too, along with finger potatoes, squash and carrots in cheese sauce. All from the farmer's market.
Thanks for the great comment.

Bish Denham said...

These are such simple steps to take, ones that I practice to the best of my ability!

We'd have a garden if it weren't so dry, what with water being restricted. Even so, we're thinking of planting spinach for the winter.

Natalie said...

Growing your own food is SO REWARDING too. I love that my kids can go out and pick a tomato and a carrot, wash them, and eat them fresh. And I love that I know exactly what goes on my garden and don't have to worry about pesticides and fertilizers.

If only we had a cow...


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Bish: A garden without water would certainly be a problem. Darn. I hope your spinach gets nice rain.

Natalie: Ooooo, I didn't know you had a great garden. It is so fantastic for kids--well, for adults, too, to pluck food straight from the plant. I love raw corn on the cob, so sweet.
A cow! My, that would be a big step.

MG Higgins said...

Thanks for this post. I agree that small steps can make a big difference. I'm fortunate to live in an area with lots of small farmers and abundant farmer's markets. We even have a local rancher who sells hormone-free, grass-fed beef to our stores and restaurants.

Marcia said...

It's so true that sometimes people won't bother doing anything, because they figure their efforts are so small. But it still matters.

VR Barkowski said...

Superb post, Tricia. This year we grew tomatoes and basil, next year we'll do better. We do visit our local farmers market. There's no point in eating grocery store produce, it has no taste.

Isn't it horrendous that our health, right down to the food we put in our mouth, has become politicized?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Mel: Sounds like heaven in your neighborhood!

Marcia: Indeed. If more people support small farms they will prosper. If people don't they will fade away.

VR: It is horrendous, but maybe we can win back ground and change things.
I rarely buy produce in supermarkets due to its lack of flavor. blegh

Golden Eagle said...

Good point about taking small steps. :)

LynNerdKelley said...

It is kind of scary, the strange things they're doing to our food and how kids are reaching puberty at an earlier age because of the hormones in milk. Twilight Zone stuff as far as I'm concerned! Your suggestions are good ones. Growing our own food and shopping at farmers markets makes perfect sense.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

GoldenEagle: They add up!

Lynn: I hate to think about it, but you look at the ingredient labels and it's creepy. But some of the stuff like the growth hormones aren't even on labels.

Lydia Kang said...

Agreed. Especially the grow it yourself thing. I love my garden. It feeds me and makes me happy.

Barrie said...

We have a Farmers' Market that has gotten quite popular. ;)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Lydia: A garden that feeds you is lovely on multiple levels. :)

Barrie: Oh, that's great news! :D

Suzanne Casamento said...

I think we all need to take a road trip to Yvonne's farm.

And I love your suggestions. I'm doing them all! Although I don't have much space so I'm only growing herbs right now.

At the risk of politicizing further, I've got something to add. When you head to the farmer's market or grocery store, bring your reusable bags! ;)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Suzanne: Oh, wouldn't it be fun to go to Yvonne's???
I keep those reusable bags in my car all the time now. Lots of them!