With more and more distance between farmer and consumer, people are becoming disconnected from their food source. When people relied on local food sources, and traded directly with the grower to receive their nourishment, the economics of farming was very different. Crops were harvested when they were ripe, and sold to local markets or directly to the consumer, who could ask questions about the year’s successes and challenges, seasonal variations, and what to expect with the change of climate. People ate seasonally and locally without overthinking the political implications of their actions.
Today, farmers are at the behest of the global food chain. Farmers will grow the food, and a corporation will process, package, and ship the food, leaving a small profit for the farmer. This is where the “culture” in agriculture is being lost. Food has lost its local and seasonal appeal, since we can purchase any type of food product year round. Farmers are becoming powerless to even grow what they want, since “the market” determines that they should plant GMO corn, spray it with petroleum-based chemicals, sell it to the same company that engineered the seeds and pesticides, who will sell it to factory farms to feed inhumanely treated factory farmed livestock.
There is a movement afoot – more and more people are choosing to feed their bodies healthy, organic (real) food, to support local famers, and to stay away from corporate, vertically integrated food systems that control most of the world market. More and more farmers markets are available for conscious consumers, and with the internet, it’s possible to purchase specialty items like coffee and chocolate directly from farmers across the world. The Fair Trade certification has ensured that anyone marketing a product with this emblem is providing a fair wage to the grower, and a quality product to the consumer. The local, organic movement has even influenced corporate supermarkets to offer more organic produce, and to indicate where the produce has come from. However, let’s not be fooled that a “California” label means the product hasn’t been sprayed, processed, and transported, often arriving on shelves as it is beginning to ripen – meaning it was picked immaturely. The best way to ensure you are eating the healthiest, most quality food, is to purchase products with the fewest links between you and the farmer as possible- or grow your own.
To find a local farmer’s market:
To learn more about labeling GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms):
To learn about Organic certification: