This blog post has been rolling around in my head for probably about a year now…and Ive been trying to figure out the best way to put my thoughts to ‘paper’. I probably won’t do a good job here, but at least its from the heart.
A lot of people need to wake up to reality…that sounds harsh, but its the truth. Our concept of food and food safety in American is so skewed its absurd. We’ve been taught that food should be cheap and easily accessible. Labels are misleading and sometimes outright lies. Our government agencies that are ‘supposed’ to protect us are in cahoots with huge ag companies that only care about their bottom line.
Food is not cheap to grow! Americans spend less money on their food (about 6%) than any other country and even our grandparents! But thats not REALLY the true cost of food. If you calculate in the the $17BILLION dollars a year in agricultural subsidies (ie. your tax dollars) that number looks a little higher. Small time, organic producers get very little (if any) government subsidies. Those dollars are mostly reserved for big-time corn, soybean and rice producers.
Labels mean virtually nothing these days…at least, they don’t always mean what you think they do. Most consumers would think of rolling pastures and animals grazing when they see an organic label. The reality is very different. According to organic standards, animals must:
be fed certified organic feed
have ‘access’ to outdoors
be given no antibiotics
Beak trimming is allowed, there is no requirement for how much or what kind of outdoor space is required and there are MANY exceptions to the rules above. As far as ‘grass-fed’, ‘pasture raised’, free-range’ or any other label…there is absolutely zero rules or governing body that verifies or regulates them.
In essence, the only true way to know if the food you are eating is safe and environmentally friendly, is to buy direct from the farm (or grow it yourself). You’ve got to talk to the farmer that feeds you….know her practices, see their farm/ranch and make a connection you can count on. Im sure it may be difficult for some of you…but, there are many sources online to help you find small farms or farmers markets in your area.
First, Local Harvest…Local Harvest is a site that connects producers with the people trying to find them. They have over 30,000 listings of farms, farmers markets, restaurants and grocery stores that feature local food.
Eat Wild is also a GREAT source for meat, eggs and dairy products. They have strict rules regarding feed, housing and care of livestock.
Lastly, Pick Your Own is a low-tech website that helps find U-pick farms and ranches near you. The listings are text based but still allow you to check out what the farm has to offer, visit their FB page or website and get contact info.
I know its not easy…running to the grocery store and throwing things in your cart is SIMPLE and painless…but you reap what you sow. And allowing additive laden food grown with chemicals and little care for the environment in your diet will only lead to trouble in the future. Your health and our world depend on you taking some time to source your food. Us farmers are here to help!
Find a local market, farm and ranch in your area and change your eating habits today!!