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Our wealth is our health and community

by Belis July 16, 2020

Local, Organic and Ethically Produced

Where better to begin the journey of improving both our own and others’ lives than with that which is necessary to it; food. Not only is food vital to our health and thus survival but it also dictates our very quality of life. What we consume influences our physiological make up and thus psychological state. The means of its production affect not only our bodies but also our economy, environment, community and a plethora of other issues. We cannot afford to overlook the importance of keeping it local, “organic,” and ethically produced. From environmental destruction to innumerous societal and health-based issues there’s no shortage of reasons as to why we should consume small-scale locally grown organic foods.

There’s no doubt about it, fresh local produce tastes much better and is much better for you and your community

The Taste

Let’s begin with perhaps one of the most obvious reasons, albeit least important aspects of eating locally. The taste my friends. If you don’t believe it, try it yourself. Go to a supermarket and purchase your average say strawberries. Then (when in season) go to a local farmers market, acquire some and compare the two. There’s no doubt about it, fresh local produce tastes much better. Though this is perhaps a more superficial element to the importance of eating local, it is still a relevant one. That being said, the taste/freshness is often indicative of its nutrient content.

Nutritious

Fresh well-grown produce is much more nutrient dense, as non-local produce is transported long distances and not allowed to naturally mature. It is more often than not harvested before it has naturally ripened so as to help preserve it during its long journey, then artificially ripened upon arrival via calcium carbide. A chemical that contains traces of arsenic and phosphorous hydride and whose use has been deemed hazardous by various health authorities worldwide. Many such artificial ripening agents are produced by the same companies that produce artificial pesticides and fertilizers that are rampantly and harmfully used. Ironically, these ripening agents actually decrease the shelf life of fruits and vegetables and add toxicity to our food.

Why’s he entirely covered and wearing a gas mask?

Any fruit or vegetable is only as good as the soil in which it’s grown.

Large-scale agriculture, even if “organic” utilizes terrible means of fertilizing the soil from which the plants draw their nutrients, in turn becoming part of the plant (just as what we eat forms what and even who we are). From pumping vats of gaseous nitrates into soil to the utilization of known carcinogens, there’s no shortage of poor soil treatment. Couple this with the use of contemporary pesticides and the result is a slew of terrible bi-products. The disruption of pollinators (which we depend on for the majority of produce), the mass contamination of both surface and groundwater, and perhaps most importantly the decrease in microorganisms in the soil itself. After all we need proper populations of bacteria and fungi present in the soil, otherwise, it will not hold the nutrients necessary to healthy plant growth in the first place. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) even announced that more than 90 percent of water and fish samples from all streams contained traces of at least one or more pesticides. More than 58% of drinking water in India has been contaminated beyond EPA standards with organochlorine and other such pesticides. Given the fact that potable water is becoming more and more sparse this is a very serious issue. Without even making mention of soil depletion and erosion, it’s quite clear how detrimental such farming practices are to both ourselves and our environment.

Americans consume roughly 400 gallons of oil per year per person just for agriculture.

Costly

Transportation costs alone are ridiculously high, the degree of pollution and waste is immense. Have you ever thought what it takes to get a banana here from say Peru? On average Americans consume roughly 400 gallons of oil per year per person just for agriculture. Most of this in both transport and production, but a surprisingly large portion is used in the production of the aforementioned fertilizers and pesticides. More than a quarter of all farming “energy” goes into synthetic fertilizers. Thus, local organic farming methods greatly reduce the consumption and dependence on oil for many reasons. Not to mention all of the agricultural, local transport and vending jobs small-scale farming is capable of supporting. All the while helping the local economy by keeping the monetary expenditure of the populace circulating amongst themselves instead of further contributing to national, or international businesses who have no vested interest in the well-being of those communities. After all, do we really need further dependence on volatile socio-economic systems in which we have little to no say?

Health

Perhaps most relevant to your immediate existence are the innumerous documented health threats due to the consumption of truly non-organic and non-local produce. There have been many pathogen outbreaks due to the long distance and mass transportation methods. From staphylococcal food poisoning to salmonellosis via cross contamination in transport vessels. Antibiotic resistance now becoming rampant due to the farming practices in the dairy and meat industries pose a massive threat to public health. The list of chronic illnesses caused by chemically treated produce and processed foods are innumerable including asthma, obesity, autism, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alsheimer’s, various types of cancer and a long list of learning disabilities. The impact extends not only to your individual health but the wellbeing of our community. Weighing down our health care system, which is already a massive issue unto itself (to be continued…), contributing to an ever-dwindling clean water supply, destroying environments and local sustainability. There’s no debating the need to change our farming methods, but in order to do so, we must change our consumer habits.

Now time for praxis, as again what’s the use of the theoretical if not made practical.

What can we do?

Well, it’s really quite simple. There’s more than likely a handful of small-scale organic farms in your area and many of them now offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) memberships. In which you literally invest in the farm or farms of your choosing pre-harvest. This allows the farms to invest in labor and material costs in order to further their efforts to bring quality produce to our tables. Dependent upon the membership, they will provide you weekly with a sizable box of seasonal produce. Either delivered to you or to a predetermined location. Again, the specifics vary from farm to farm but it’s a very cost-efficient way of ensuring that you continually receive high-quality healthy food and that your local small-scale farmers are supported and able to provide such services to more members of the community. You’re not only investing in your health but also your community. Look for CSAs in your area, if there aren’t any don’t fret there’s bound to be a local farmers market somewhere. Worst case scenario perhaps there’s a local health food store and you can ask them what products are indeed locally produced. What we consume influences not only our own health and that of our community but is also one of the greatest ways in which we can proactively “vote” for what change we want to see in the world. Exploitation of labor, pollution, reappropriation of wealth, local jobs, sustainability, the destruction of our environment, and many more issues are directly affected in a positive manner when we choose to consume locally grown organic food. It’s not black and white either, you don’t have to start consuming 100% local to make a difference. Something is better than nothing, and we’ve got to start somewhere.

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