We have established, over countless years many independent thinking minds that there is an interconnection between people and planet. Perhaps in the very next breath it was proclaimed that the global market served the greater “good” and it is in the best interest of humanity if the corporations continue expansion and extraction! There is no doubt that we can purchase products for less by using cheaper materials and paying minimal labor wages. Even our food sources must be examined to truly see how a lesser purchase price does not always equal savings in the long run. We do not recommend saving money at the expense of your future health.
September winds down another harvest for our local and backyard farmers; however, the number of independent farmers who still exist to provide healthy / natural food in our communities has all but dwindled away. The reasons are economically driven! The farmers cannot compete with food that is mass produced, genetically engineered, chemically sprayed toxins, injected anti-biotics, hormones, immunizations in the name of maximizing production (profit). To find out more about the entire food process we recommend watching the movie Food Inc. Of course, it will change the way you look at your food and has been known to motivate investigation and implementation of alternative methods for meeting our local demand for food. Time magazine shows briefly a frustrating and layered choice, one that implicates many other questions: What’s the most efficient way to grow food for all? Should farms be big or small, family- or corporate-run? How do your choices affect the planet? What tastes better? And then there’s that little matter of cancer.
Why Eat Locally Grown Food?
Revenue Stays Local – When you buy direct from local farmers, your dollars stay within your community, and strengthen the local economy. More than 90¢ of every dollar you spend goes to the farmer, thus preserving farming as a livelihood and farmland. This is important because as mergers in the food industry have increased, the portion of your food dollar paid to farmers has decreased. Vegetable farmers earn only 21¢ of your dollar; the other 79¢ goes to pay for marketing, distribution, and other costs.
Food Tastes Better – John Ikerd, a retired agricultural economics professor who writes about the growing “eat local” movement, says that farmers who sell direct to local consumers need not give priority to packing, shipping and shelf-life issues and can instead “select, grow and harvest crops to ensure peak qualities of freshness, nutrition and taste.” Eating local also means eating seasonally, he adds, a practice much in tune with Mother Nature.
Improved Health Benefits – “Local food is often safer, too,” says the Center for a New American Dream (CNAD). “Even when it’s not organic, small farms tend to be less aggressive than large farms about dousing their wares.” Small farms are also more likely to grow more variety, says CNAD, protecting biodiversity and preserving a wider agricultural gene pool, an important factor in long-term food security.
Reduces Global Warming – Eating locally grown food even helps in the fight against global warming. Rich Pirog of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture reports that the average fresh food item on our dinner table travels 1,500 miles to get there. Buying locally produced food eliminates the need for all that fuel-guzzling transportation.
A Few Ideas for Eating Local
1. Shop weekly at your local farmers market or farm stands
2. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for weekly seasonal harvest deliveries
3. Buy from local grocers and co-ops committed to stocking local food
4. Support restaurants and food vendors that buy locally produced food
5. Preserve food from the season — freeze, can, dry — to eat later in the year
6. Throw a “Locally-Grown Party” and serve all local food
7. Grow your own food in your yard or community garden plot
8. Visit local farmers and “u-picks”
9. Ask your grocer or favorite restaurant what local foods they carry
10. Plan your meals to accommodate local harvests and seasons.
11. One week try spending 10% of the grocery budget on local food, grown with 100 mile radius of wherever you live
12. Try one new fruit or vegetable each day
13. / Join a Gardner’s Club and connect with others to share; look for seed savers programs locally and online.
The Organic Consumers Association has information online and easily accessible for ideas on how to help individuals and communities expand self-sustainable efforts. An easy way to begin is to urge local elected officials to support locally grown organic food.
:: Middle Tennessee Resources:
The FARM – Summertown, TN offers classes in Eco-Village Training. An eco-village is only different from a traditional village in its ability to be sustained indefinitely into the future. In all other respects, it may have all of the features people in the industrial world have come to expect, like electric appliances, refrigeration, and video games.
“It is a misconception that living in an ecological way involves sacrifice and hardship,” says founder Albert Bates. “Many modern designs for dings, vehicles, and new materials require no change in habit whatsoever, while reducing environmental impacts significantly.” ETC has hosted courses in permaculture, organic certification professions, herbology, installing solar electricity and water heating, and yurt, bamboo, cob, earth bag, round pole, and straw bale construction, bio-fuels, midwifery, an annual children’s camp, and ongoing demonstrations in alternate energy, hybrid vehicles, constructed wetlands and sustainable farming. We inaugurated a student exchange program with Israeli kibbutz, Russian and Brazilian ecovillagers and a social justice program for training disadvantaged populations. We have ongoing projects in Palestine, Mexico, and Brazil that our graduates can become directly involved with.
The Eco-village Training Center assists transition towards a sustainable society by instruction in meeting basic needs for food, shelter, energy, fuel, gainful employment, and community process and progress. It comes around to understanding the needs of Earth’s natural systems and the human role in healing and helping.
ETC offers an immersion experience in sustainable living: courses and workshops, apprenticeships, and special demonstrations in green lifestyles. Set amongst the Farm’s 5000 acres of protected woods and meadows, the Eco-village Training Center is a living laboratory with a mandate to save the world. Sustainable technologies and principles surround you as you study and work throughout the training center-its eco-hostel, organic garden, forests, swales and ponds—in a permaculture consciousness, within an outstanding networking community of students and teachers.7
The Natural Answer Wellness Center – Sparta, TN has provided rural residents with naturally healthy solutions for over 10 years. This family owned business is located in a four story historic downtown building has the room and resources to provide the ommunity a myriad of wellness classes, as well as providing products and services that have been ahead of their time for years.
The Wellness Center carries quality products and has expanded to also include a selection of local honey, produce and Kocher produced meats. Purchasing local could cost more, but as the saying goes – you get what you pay for. Supporting other local businesses using principles of the 3/50 Project, the Natural Answer leads by example. Bringing food to the people from local farmers who actually care about the people! When you buy local, you support your local economy and empower the local people & communities to become more self-sustaining. Not to mention the list in the beginning for reasons to purchase locally grown food! It tastes the way nature intended it to taste and provides the nutrients naturally.
Using locally grown food, the wellness center plans to offer cooking & meal preparation classes and taste testing events. It may be true that the average southern cook has never considered eating vegetables without frying them, but no laughing – because I’ve done it myself. A class offers the perfect environment to experiment without commitment or fear of failure. Plus, recipe cards are provided for those who wish to try it at home. The Natural Answer Shopping List provides simple healthy choices for meal planning on a budget.
For those who do yoga and drink Kombucha, the Natural Answer distributes locally brewed deKombucha and hosts tea ceremonies for those who wish to learn more about the healing properties of tea. Although deKombucha is new to Tennessee, it has been around for approximately 3,000 years. Generally, the drink is handed down from household to household as the original source is a mystery. Although you can find the drink gracing some health stores, many pasteurize the drink, thereby killing the active probiotic ingredient.
If you don’t live in Tennessee, but wish to explore these types of options to sustain a healthy / empowered life, research your area on the internet or contact one of these institutes for information on sister facilities around the world. Without places and people like this, sharing information and learning how to become self-sustaining would become much more difficult. Don’t forget to support local businesses that care about your health and wellbeing while also taking a stand for environmentally sound practices. Our local farmers depend on us, but in reality we depend on them. Until the industry acknowledges and changes its food production process it has many hidden problems associated with it. Buying local or growing your own food supply when possible gives a higher probability of sustenance that can give the desired results, Energy: Health:
I was raised on a small farm in Illinois. My wife, Eileen and I and family have worked together hand and hand on this farm (and adjoining land we bought) since 1966. I attended and graduated University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL. I received a Bachelor of Science Degree (Cum Laude)in Agricultural Engineering in 1970.
I worked as a registered Professional Engineer for the Rock Island District, US Army Corps of Engineers for 33 years, before retiring. I held several supervisory positions while at Corps: Chief, Regulatory Branch, Assistant Chief of Operations Division, Chief of the Lock and Dam Branch, and Mississippi River Project Manager. One highlight of my career was developing NIC (Google "NIC - Navigation Information Connection") during the early 90's, in a joint effort, with the District's Information Management personnel and Navigation Industry Representatives.
My wife and I have 2 grown children and 4 grandchildren. We have businesses associated with farming, "live edge" furniture making, vegetable produce, and graphics. We enjoy pursuing our hobby interests.