One of the subjects that I've wanted to cover here is not just how we grow our own food but how we purchase it.
Not everyone has space or time to garden and grow their own food and have no choice but to purchase it. And even those of us with gardens still need to supplement our diet with things we can't or don't want to grow or raise ourselves.
That doesn't mean that one can't still do one's best to, not only benefit the Earth and local farmers but influence one's own health by making the choice to eat as much fresh, local and preferably, when possible: Organic foods as possible.
It's becoming crucial that as many people as possible learn the importance of purchasing food that is grown and raised as close to home as humanly possible. Food cooperatives, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA's) Programs; even small roadside stands need to be supported as much and as often as possible.
In my article on Alternative Nature Online called Consumer Power and the Healthcare Industry I state:
"We, the consumers, are possibly the most powerful group in this country: if not the world. What we want, what we demand in the market place will be fulfilled. It is up to us how and by whom that is done. Please, when shopping take as much care in voting for your products as you would for the leaders of this country. Our and the Earth’s future and health depend on it. "
While the point to the article was, at that time, focused on the problems of the growing world wide herbal industry, the above quote as well as the article in general is applicable to our food resources as well.
What I challenge you all to do; starting with the next time you plan your weekly food purchases is to look over your list and think of ways you can purchase those items locally. Look for local farms, coops, CSA's, Farmers Markets and road stands that you can start supporting on a regular basis.
You can even often find home made preserves, jams and jellys at locally made craft stores.
When possible buy organic to send your vote for Earth sustaining production.
Go to these places before you go to the big mega grocery stores and only purchase what you can't get elsewhere there.
Another thing to do is to check these places before you make final decisions on your menu plans if you haven't checked with them before hand what's available (many farms, CSA's and Coops are online now with lists of what is available or allow people to call or send out emails).
I recognise that this can be challenging; particularly economically. But the second part of this challenge is to check and see just what the difference is and see if you can't even just spend a small fraction more.
Or, and those with time constraints this could be the hardest, learn to make more things from scratch rather then rely on prepackages foods.
I'm amazed at how much stuff there is all ready chopped up or precooked in the stores now and at a premium cost. If you are buying (and voting for) this sort of product could you save a little money and spend the time to chop your own vegetables? This includes the frozen varieties too.
If time is a problem may I suggest you take a look at your recipes and perhaps find some that don't take so long? It is possible to cook a dinner from scratch and have it on the table in 1/2 hour to 45 minutes tops. There are actually quite a few cookbooks with this in mind including those by Leanne Ely
Change all her ingredients to Local and preferably Organic and you're on your way.
I know that buying organic can more often then not be expensive as well as in some areas of the country near impossible to find. What I advice is to look carefully at any food you buy; organic or otherwise and see if it is healthy looking. While most of the food I purchase is organic I've actually passed over what is being offered due to, not only it's look and quality but whether or not it "feels" alive.
This may seem odd to many but go ahead when you are looking at the produce isle and check out different items and see how they feel to you. Even if they are bright and shiny many will "feel" dead. This includes the Organic section.
There are many reasons for this; including, in my opinion, the lacking of any spirituality in the method grown. It doesn't matter if it's organic or conventionally raised: mono-culture farms more often then not raise produce seem to lack any feeling of life.
A good one to check out is those strawberries they have in the middle of Winter, grown in mono-culture farms on the other side of the world, harvested without any care or love and picked long before they are ripe so they travel better.
I'd rather do without then buy some lackluster vegetable that I'd planned on for some dinner that week. It makes more sense to me to see what's available first then decide what looks irresistible is what I should be cooking.
In other words, don't make your menu and grocery list and think it's written in stone: allow yourself to improvise while choosing but for economical reasons; keep to a menu plan for no more then two weeks.
In the end, all I can ask is for you to do what you can either economically or in the purchasing of organic. It's often the accumulation of many small steps that lead to the bigger changes in the world.
I intend on coming back to this in the near future, hopefully with more ideas how to implement this into our lives as well as recipes; along with the usual garden babble I do here.
But for now, again, I challenge you to just, please, try to incorporate a few locally produced or grown items into your normal shopping and menu planning routine and see where it goes..
I thank you, the Earth thanks you, your local farmers and business people will thank you too.