We realize these truths may not be self-evident, but not all agricultural systems are created equal.
This weekend residents of the United States celebrate Independence Day to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. As a nation built on agriculture, we’ve moved far from our original roots, with most of us buying our food from hyper-refrigerated grocery stores, after it’s been grown with chemicals on giant industrial farms and trucked from thousands of miles away. Just check out Food, Inc. this weekend for some eye-opening insight into the current state of food and agriculture in America. But this year, on our 233rd birthday, people across the country are starting to rediscover our roots – the dirty kind, that is.
There’s been a local food movement afoot for a long time now, with the rise of slow food, locavores, and a resurgence of interest in and concern for America’s small family farmers. But this year it feels like these growing movements, recent food scares and the recession have converged to send Americans back into their yards and their neighborhoods. Kitchen gardens, “recession gardens,” local farmers markets – hey, even the White House has a home organic garden now! Americans are searching for safe, healthy, affordable food, and we’re increasingly growing our own and buying directly from our farmers.
The good folks at Kitchen Gardeners International have launched a “Food Independence Day” campaign this year to encourage state governors and their families across the country to eat locally and sustainably for the Fourth of July this year. It’s a fun idea – on this hyper-patriotic holiday, what could be more patriotic than supporting our local economies and local farmers, and celebrating our unique local food cultures?
Mother Nature Network is a partner in the campaign, and they have a cool interactive map where you can see what’s local in your region right now, and read suggested menus for first families from local chefs.
You can celebrate Food Independence Day in your community this weekend by shopping at your local farmers market and then voting to help your market win $5,000 in Care2 and LocalHarvest’s “Love Your Farmers Market” contest. And if you need some inspiration for how to cook all of the amazing produce available at your market right now, check out our Farmers Market Cooking Show on YouTube.
Side-note of interest to many folks on Care2: Food Independence Day is not a vegetarian campaign, even though home gardens and farmers markets are fantastic resources for vegans and vegetarians. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years and was a little taken aback when I read the proposed menu for California’s first family which started with “grilled steaks or burgers” and saw that the recipe provided for sweet wala wala onions called for beef bouillon. But one of the issues I’ve been thinking about as I get more involved in local and sustainable food issues is the question of whether one can eat sustainably and eco-consciously and still eat (locally, organically raised) meat. It’s not a personal question for me – my vegetarianism stems primarily from my love of animals, but still. A question for another post, but I’d love to hear people’s thoughts!
So what will YOU be eating this weekend – and do you know where it came from?