I just can’t tell you how good our barn smells right now! Last week we harvested garlic and now one of its hand-hewn beams is fully lined with this earthy delight. If former lives were such a thing, I’m sure I was an Italian maiden and my brick barn presided over an old-world villa. Do ya think?
Like everything else from our garden, this garlic is so-o-o-o much more flavorful than anything you buy in the grocery store. If there’s a disadvantage to raising your own food, it’s that you become acutely aware of just how tasteless and removed from its natural state our retail food has become. Call me a snob (or an empty-nester who can now afford to spend more), but more times than not I’ll go out of my way to shop at Willy Street Cooperative in Madison, and other such stores, simply because its food is organic and/or locally-grown. Think fresh, flavorful and healthy. (Unfortunately, I know I’m using more time and fuel — it’s not easy being green.)
Have you ever read Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé? I first ran into this book while working for the Youth Conservation Corp in the late 1970s. Such ecological food practices were revolutionary back then and, while some of her theories have since been refuted, Lappé is still credited as being an introducer to the active food movement we have today. What I find interesting is how 40 years later, her forewarnings of an unsustainable food system are now here to haunt us. And she was right. Today we have declining health, depleted soils, and a problem of affordably producing quality food, simply because the good food movement is not as much of American life as it should be.
In his article Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers, Bren Smith, a farmer himself, offers suggestions for preserving the good food movement we appreciate today. He writes of political agendas, like supporting affordable health care and shifting subsidies from factory farms to family farms. But guess what, there are also things we can do at the grassroots level that are equally important for supporting good food—simple things that not only benefit ourselves but society as a whole.
- Be willing to spend more for better food, and better health.
- Support small farms instead of factory farms—research the farm, maybe even take a drive to the country to see it.
- Buy a CSA share from a farm near you.
- Support food cooperatives—become an owner for greater discounts.
- If you don’t have access to grocery stores that carry local and organic food, ask your grocer to do so. Do the same with the restaurants you patronize.
- Become a farmer yourself: grow a garden.
- Speak up! Write about it. Talk about it on social media. Make people aware of what you or others are doing with good food.