My husband says every time we watch a documentary it changes our perspective on life. I say a good movie/book/experience can help us reconsider not only what is really important to us but what should be.
It isn’t that we watch a movie and change our habits abruptly, it is more of an evolving process where we listen to both sides of the story, weigh the options and consider what we know in our hearts and brains to be right. Then we take action.
When we saw Food, Inc., we started learning more about our food system and what options we had available in our area for quality food. We started seeing the regular grocery stores as buildings full of mostly dead, nutrient depleting packaged foods and CAFO raised meats. Stuff we used to buy all the time without knowing any better. We made some adjustments in our budget and started to dedicate more money to buying organic and hormone/antibiotic free food from the health food store.
Then we learned about Paleo – read a lot of books and listened to smarter people than us talk about paleo/ancestral/primal and all the reasons and science that backs it up – and started focusing more on the quality of our food and where it comes from. Found a local farm and go there every weekend for fresh eggs, milk and meat.
All of these things just made so much sense to us. Pay more for quality, pesticide/herbicide free, humanely raised, nutrient dense foods now. Don’t pay for chronic disease medications and large hospital bills later. Period.
We live a simpler life, a more fulfilling life where we concentrate not on getting a bigger TV or planning an extravagant vacation but on building relationships with people we love, taking care of ourselves and relaxing more.
We’re happy, we’re healthy. Life is good.
Then, last week we watched Farmageddon. If you don’t know, it is a documentary on small, local, organic farms and co-ops who are subject to the same regulations, rigmarole and paperwork as giant agribusiness companies with millions of dollars to spend. These small, sustainable farms and food distribution networks are at the mercy of laws that have been created for big corporations. I get it, the FDA and USDA are “watching out” for everyone, they want to make sure consumers are buying safe food. I guess that’s why not a single major outbreak of e. coli or mad cow disease has been linked to small, sustainable, local farms. Yep, that makes sense.
Some, not all, small farms basically just make ends meet (no pun intended), and then some are very successful. The 2007 Census of Agriculture stated the average age of farmers nationwide was nearing 60. Then in 2010 the Department of Agriculture dedicated $18M to educating young farmers. But we don’t think that’s enough. While we have known for a long time that local, sustainable farms are a dying breed in the US, seeing these true stories come to life hit home with us.
We have to do something. But what?
Leave our corporate hippie seats and go buy a farm? No, too dramatic. I am a planner, I need a plan.
Start a local restaurant that sells only local, organic, healthy food? Nah, let’s scale it back a bit.
We decided we would start small by planting a big ass garden in our backyard.
We are going to continue learning about agriculture and what it takes to cultivate, harvest, and preserve food for our family.
We are going to stand up for small farms, volunteer, try to educate our friends and family that something has to change for the future of food.
We are going to see how far we can take it. Can we grow enough food in our small yard to sustain us for a year?
And then next, who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Here is our garden at this very moment. This weekend we plan to double it. I’m sure I’ll share some updates as things start to grow. Happy planting!
In the meantime, go find a local farm and pay a little more, if you can, for some healthy food for you and your family. 😉