Do you know where your food comes from? That seems like a rather simple question. But if you were to open your refrigerator right now and take a gander, would you be able to pinpoint the source of your family’s dinner? Could you calculate the miles your food traveled from its originating farm? Is it even from a farm or is it from a factory? These are all exceedingly important questions to answer, especially for the health of your family and community. These questions also seem to be getting more and more difficult to answer. There was a time when the majority of our meals had to come from a quilt of local farmers, with a few treats here and there from far-off places. The idea of food involving a factory as its origin story was fodder for sci-fi novels and dystopian storylines. However, not to be dramatic but, we’re currently living a storyline that isn’t too far from this. Even when you buy produce from the organic section of your local superstore, we still rarely know what brought our food items to our tables. Where did they come from? Who grew them and in what conditions? When you can know the whole story behind your food, you can make informed decisions for yourself, your family, and your community.
Knowing the sourcing of your food is important for so many reasons:
Invest in your local economy:
When you know where your food comes from, you can decide whether or not you’d like to support your local economy by keeping your dollars close to home. By purchasing from local farmers, bakers, and makers, you’re choosing to keep your dollars inside your local community. Growing your community benefits you directly rather than sending money off to large corporations who are often out of state and don’t know what a Hanover tomato is or what makes it so special. Making a profit is the top priority for most of our major food corporations. Their main focus is finding ways to produce food products as cheap as possible while also selling as much as they can for the highest price they can. They’re not concerned about the state of the soil after the products are grown and shipped off. They’re not concerned about how the farmworkers will feed their own families - they’re rarely paid enough to be able to afford their own produce. And they rarely concern themselves over the end result of filling America’s grocery store shelves with nutrient-poor food items, while charging them a pretty penny for it. To help keep us hooked on their products, they use ingredients that are chemically infamous for being addictive. If a food item is good, it shouldn’t need to be altered for added addictive qualities.
Knowing how the animals you’re eating are fed and treated:
When you buy meat, fish, dairy, or eggs, the way the animal in question was raised and the way in which the products (meat, dairy, or eggs) were collected, directly affects the quality of the product. Even if you aren’t concerned at all with the treatment of the animals (most conventional meat, dairy, and poultry plants are real-life nightmares), how an animal is treated before slaughter (or collection if talking about eggs and dairy) has a significant impact on the overall nutritional quality and taste of the items. Try it out! Try one egg from our local egg providers All Good Acres and Hens and Hemp compared to a Publix egg. There really is no comparison. Our eggs not only taste (so much) better, but they’re also much richer in healthy fats, and vitamins, and are anti-inflammatory. By choosing a farmer who doesn’t practice factory farming or use Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), consumers can use their collective purchasing power to support farmers who care about providing good lives for their animals with humane conditions. After all, it’s better for the animals, the land, and our families!
Educating Our Families:
Studies show that our children, overwhelmingly, don’t know where our food comes from. They’ve never seen a potato plant, didn’t know that you can make homemade ketchup without corn syrup, and don’t know that most strawberries are grown with enough pesticides to take the strongest amongst us down. When children are educated about where their food comes from, they can make healthy and personally responsible choices for themselves and their families.
When we choose foods that are responsibly and ethically raised and produced, we’re showing the big corporations within the food industry that we are requiring them to maintain transparency and are holding them to a certain standard of humanitarianism. When you choose these food items that are grown or produced locally, you're investing in your local community - creating jobs and bolstering your neighbors to support themselves, rather than a CEO’s bloated wallet. By questioning your food sources and making changes to what you put on your plate, you can support your local community, improve the nutritional quality as well as the taste of the food on your plate, and support children to make educated choices. The future of American agriculture and the global food industry will be determined by the relationships consumers choose to have with their food, and the people producing it.