Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Here's to Mud On Your Boots.

OK, so here's the deal. The clamor towards more and more organic production has meant a migration of our farms and fields to other states, coasts, and countries. With that migration we've lost communities, economies, and connections. We no longer know our food or the people that grow it. Fortunately, rushing to the rescue are people like you and me that have an acute need to stick our toes in the soil that grows our crops. We revel in the fact that we can have a intimate conversation with the critters that oversee the farm environment. We like to know where our food comes from and who grew it.

Today, you can buy food grown practically anywhere--Washington, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, China--where it is often grown because of cheaper labor, relaxed enviromnental laws, friendlier corporate business environments, and, most importantly, because it can often be grown organically. But, these days local is where it is at. To be fair, organically grown produce has a place in our food system, but only when it can be done locally, as well. When that production takes place on the other side of the planet, the amount of petroleum energy it takes to transport food from the far reaches of the world far exceeds any benefit you get by having it grown there. Food grown sustainably and locally takes far fewer resources to get from seed to salad than the same crop grown 5000 miles or more away. Food grown sustainably and locally has the personal investment of the farmer because they have to live, eat, work, breathe, and survive here, too.

Most importantly locally grown means a connection, or a reconnection in many cases, with the land, the water, and the people that nurture the soil to bring you the best food possible. It means jobs, stable local economies, thriving rural communities, clean air and water, and safe food. It means at the end of the day you can stop at your local farm or farm market, pick up dinner, look the famer in the eye, and say "Thanks, I'll see you tomorrow." That food dollar will come back to you in ways you'd never imagine.

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