Change food

Posted: Saturday, April 23, 2016 12:30 am
By Tessa Edick
For Columbia-Greene Media
 
One of the most important things we do every day is eat. There is no black or white, no rich or poor at the table, there is only hunger because we all need to eat — and we are more alike than different.
 
Access to farm-fresh, nutrient dense local food is key. We can’t eat virtually to provide energy for our bodies. We all require nutrition and we all love food.
 
Bringing the farm to every table in America responsibly and sustainably by addressing choices and sources, food insecurity (even outside of food deserts) and demanding truth in labeling is at the core of my mission to save the family farm to bring awareness and action on food policy.
 
We must stop the swap of nutrition for convenience and stop rationalizing the expense of our “cheap” food. With subsidies hidden in our tax dollars our perception of “affordable” eating changes.
 
Cheap food is cheating the health of our bodies and minds, those of our children and even the financial health of our rural communities when spending $1 locally multiples seven times. What are you eating when the food is flown in from 3,000 miles away?
 
Good food is not a privilege. In order to opt out of processed food and feed the world, we must preserve family farms and keep farmers farming to feed all of us equally well.
 
Ask: Who are the big players influencing what we eat? Why are they paying lip service to the farm-to-table movement turning us all upside-down about health and wellness with labels, claims, laws and science mysteries while making the big bucks? Why leave us to munch more and make more money than fathomable from cheap lab inspired factory food? Why not instead invest in rebuilding rural communities through local economic development and pay a fair living wage to people producing the very food we need to eat? Do you know Coca-Cola is in the milk business? Is it really a fair life?
 
Farmers’ practices are based in honesty and responsibility offering transparency, traceability, quality and freshness. To support these ideas we should be eating local food in season and prioritizing the land with subsidies and pricing attached to organically grown vegetables and local fruit. Why, instead, we are using our precious resources to grow strawberries and asparagus year-round in places they don’t belong is uncanny and unnecessary.
 
Farmers won’t lie to you or trick you with false claims or fancy packaging to make a buck. They won’t dupe you into thinking you are buying healthy and fresh food when you are not. Instead they will work tirelessly to feed you because they love the work, the land and their families. They don’t work 365 days a year to get rich.
 
The loudest voices we hear about food policy are critics threatening starvation and too many mouths to feed. I’m here to tell you they are lying. You can grow your own food, care for chickens and cook — it’s easy, rewarding and fun! And with a conscious of any kind, you willingly obligate to this idea to teach your children how to farm and invest in sustainable food ways for good health and long lives. Eating local saves lives and farming families too.
 
Obesity rates continue to rise and one in three children under the age of 10 are dangerously overweight. That’s 33 percent of our youth put at risk for shortened and unhealthy lives just from eating unhealthy processed cheap food.
 
Kids are the victims here. They are being told the biggest lies about food and the people that profit from these lies must be stopped, including the celebrity endorsements of processed food.
 
What can we do to keep kids healthy, keep farmers farming and rebuild rural economies? We can start by finding out where our food comes from, who is feeding us what and how?
 
We can forgo convenience as our motivation to feed ourselves and invest in local food to prevent unhealthy lives. If health were revered like wealth, what would you invest in to eat?
 
The time is now. Farmers are the real food celebrities. Call them starmers!
 
The truth is available and it all starts with your food choices sourced from family farms. Meet your farmer and get involved with where your food comes from — with seed, soil, cooking and baking.
 
Connecting kids to seed and soil at a young age is life changing. Teaching them to cook and make money with project-based applied learning changes their lives forever because eating something you grow changes everything about life. Everything you ever need to know in life you learn at the farm.
 
Watch your kids rebel against fast food by way of gardening and cooking. Support these activities at home and school as productive and rewarding, fostering a lifetime of health and wellness for the next generation. It matters and it’s worth it.
 
So this year, get connected to the land. Take a family trip to a local farm or visit an urban rooftop farm, shop a farmer’s market, join a CSA or ask the grocer, where do my eggs, dairy and meat come from? Not only will taste reward you, but your body, your community and your kids will thank you too.
 
Our choices today impact tomorrow and it starts with allocation of our food dollars. Unplug and eat local. Yes, you can get your FarmOn! too.
 
To contact Tessa Edick, email tessa@farmonfoundation.org or follow her on Twitter/IG @FarmOnFarmOn.
 
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