To wrap up Earth Day, I want to share with you something near and dear to my heart: Food!
It's no suprise that I love to eat, but it's super important to me that I know where my food is coming from. I don't want to get all preachy, but do you know where your food comes from?
If you need a little push, on an empty stomach, watch the amazing documentary Food Inc (click the link to watch it for free!). It was an eye opening experience for me and everyone I know who's watched it. It's shocking to know how animals, farmers, employees in the industry and our food is treated. Who really controls the USDA is twisted and a big motivator to me to vote with my fork!
In college I came across my first co-op and spent my summers buying goodies from them and local farmers at the Saturday Market. It felt good knowing that the money I was spending was going directly to the people I shook hands with. Spending my dollar with them meant I'd get yummy things week after week.
To take the co-op a step further I strongly suggest looking into a CSA ( community-supported agriculture). My CSA is Grant Family Farms, which I found on Local Harvest (it really is an amazing site).
Josh and I purchased a "single" share of veggies, a share of fruit, and eggs. Each week I can pick up a dozen different veggies, hand picked fruit and fresh free-range farm eggs, for 26 weeks. You can't get much closer to the earth.
Most CSA's ask that you pay up front, so they can afford to plant and harvest. The price can be shocking at first, but the money you save in trips to the grocery store and over priced, over processed food is significant. If you talk to the farmers, many of them will allow you to pay in payments and some even send out a list every week and you can pick and choose what you like, keeping within your budget.
Meat is the other end of the spectrum. In Food Inc they discuss how the everyday beef you buy from the store is raised; it's horrifying. There are only 13! meat proccessing plants in this country, which increases chances of diseases in meat.
Now I'm no PETA, but I do believe in respecting the animals in which your food comes from. I want to tell you all that in plains of Kansas, I saw "beef feed farms" with my own two eyes. It was terribly sad, thousands (yes, that many) of cows, shoved into tiny little pastures, not a speck of grass in sight but rather standing knee deep in their own feces. Ick!
And don't get me started on the smell; in Dodge City, KS, it was unbearable. Not that fresh, country drive, manure smell. It was death and hamburgers, and not in a good way. I didn't eat beef the rest of our trip.
We now purchase beef through Ranch Foods Direct and Lasater Beef. The option is available to purchase value packs through the farm, or from the local Whole Foods and Farmer's Markets. They ship all over the states, but Local Harvest can help you find a farm in your area.
You can taste the difference, friends. The beef is delicious, lean, and tender. If you see a sign by a local farm that says "Buy half a cow", get your family together and go in on it together. It's a great value and an amazing taste! If you like your steak, this is the only way to go.
Check you local markets out, check city regulations to see if you can start a small chicken coop (suprisingly easy). Visit local farms and ask them about their practices; if you seem put off, ask them to change.
I hope this didn't come off as "crazy preachy", but I know that I feel better, fuller and healthier by buying from the locals. You will to, so give it a try!
If you have any questions, please ask. I'd love to hear what you all think about Food Inc, the industry or food in general. If you'd like to see video I took of the feed farms, I have them and would be happy to email them along!
I hope you had a happy, enlightening Earth Day! I'll see you tomorrow for some 'native' fun! xo.