Somewhere we have lost track; we have forgot that we eat food not money. Furthermore, we are compromising our health by demanding lower prices. For example, it may cost a farmer $.12 to grow an apple but may be forced to sell it at $.08. This is clearly a loss of profit. How do they survive? There is a demand for and a dependency on government subsidies and most farmers have a job off the farm. Does anyone want to be dependent on a government subsidy? I don’t think so.
One step in encouraging a healthy community, is awareness and appreciation. Any one that has had to do a hard days work in the fields or cleaning a kitchen floor can tell you that they have a lot more respect for the time and effort it takes to keep that produce around for our survival or that kitchen floor clean to maintain a pleasant and healthy space to live.
Another step concerns accessibility and perceived value. Farmers markets bypass the middleman and gives the consumer direct contact with the farmer. They can access their produce knowingly: the food they are about to eat is grown locally and is supporting a family and/or workers, who will at least receive more for their labour and their operating costs, without government dependency.
The perceived value of an apple these days can go in two basic directions: Make it Cheaper OR Put your Money Where Your Mouth Is
1. Make it cheaper; This is where farming, as we know it today, will be replaced by Labratory Farms. That’s right, chemically and genetically modified produce – we are already half way there. You are living, walking and breathing lab experiments for Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods.
To elaborate, it means putting more of your hard-earned dollars into locally farmed food instead of another pair of shoes. Reallocating our hard-earned money is what is most important. The food system is becoming more and more insecure.
There are companies that are taking ownership of seeds and producing seeds that are sterile. Yes, that means Farmers will have to buy new seed every year, instead of saving their own, becoming more and more dependent on huge, multinational chemical and seed companies. Can you imagine if a tomato seed went up like a litre of gas? Farmers, including urban farmers, have continued to survive because of seed saving capabilities. Now this basic right is under threat.
2. Put our money where our mouth is; this goes beyond money. It is a conscious choice that is not to be confused with the recent organic trend. Simply put: buy local.
Make your own choices. Give your money to people you are happy to give it to. This is your choice, your freedom and your influence. I enjoy giving my hard-earned money to purchase food from farmers I respect and appreciate, and I give thanks to them for perpetuating a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. I enjoy eating food grown from saved seeds year after year and keeping it chemical free. Food is Medicine, and besides, a beautiful byproduct of buying local food is a healthy community.
Written by Michelle Cornwall, with assistance from Emily Harrison. Michelle believes in urban farming and would like to see agriculture incorporated into the school system. Meanwhile, she hopes to contribute to a healthy community by being a part of a Farmer’s Market at Malaspina University College. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org