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Help Spread The Word: Know Your Farmer Know Your Food

Help Spread The Word: Know Your Farmer Know Your Food

Last spring First Lady Michelle Obama planted an organic garden at the White House in what was just the first in a series of measures by the Obama Administration to improve access to fresh local foods.

One of these measures is the “Know Your Farmer Know Your Food” Initiative created by US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The initiative is designed to not only support local farmers but also to strengthen rural communities, promote healthy eating, and protect natural resources.

“An American people that is more engaged with their food supply will create new income opportunities for American agriculture,” said Vilsack. “Reconnecting consumers and institutions with local producers will stimulate economies in rural communities, improve access to healthy, nutritious food for our families, and decrease the amount of resources to transport our food.”

Secretary Vilsack recorded a video to invite Americans to join the discussion and share their ideas for ways to support local agriculture.

As he says in this video, the campaign is designed to begin a national conversation to help develop local and regional food systems and spur economic opportunity.

This means that the USDA is looking for input from consumers, farmers, ranchers, schools, community organizations and businesses about ways to address the issues surrounding local food solutions.

They are encouraging people to send them ideas and stories about food, agriculture, and local and regional food systems. And, they want input in any format you want to provide it: by calling, emailing, and sending photographs and videotapes. Check out some of the stories and videos they’ve already received.

To encourage more people to get involved, they are taking advantage of the increased popularity of social media tools to create more of a dialogue and receive input on local food. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan has already had two Facebook Chats to continue the national conversation about developing local and regional food systems and finding ways to support small and mid-sized farms. And, they want people to “fan” them on their Facebook page as well.

In December, Merrigan also announced that the USDA signed a cooperative agreement with the Fair Food Network, a Michigan-based organization working toward improving consumers’ access to healthy foods. This regional food system will have a strong urban-rural link by matching small and mid-size farms in rural southeast Michigan with urban markets, especially Detroit to bring them locally produced food, something that’s lacking there.

While some people have criticized the initiative as being more symbolic than helpful, and feel that it lacks real “teeth,” the USDA has actually started putting some money where it’s mouth is. It has provided $50 million on school lunch programs to get more local produce into school cafeterias and $4.8 million in grants to spur job growth in rural communities.

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Judi Gerber

Judi Gerber is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.

388 comments

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6:26PM PST on Mar 9, 2011

Actually, i dare say our species could survive without even farmers. We have done so for most of our species' duration to date. But, of course, most of today's people would die of starvation without farming.

But i bring this hypothetical point to light for if everyone knew how to farm and only farm, most of today's people would also then starve to death. Without many of the other disciplines developed by our civilization, farming would be reduced to using only crude hand tools of stone and wood, and there would be little science (there would'nt be good tools) This would vastly reduce the crop yields.

It's like a car engine. There would be no engine if there were no cylinders or other methods of displacement. But the engine would still be of no use without the fuel lines, injection nozzles, exhaust system, timing and ignition and many other parts.

So, while farmers are critically important, so are many other professions and one profession shouldn't really be socially exhalted over the others.

I agree that society would be well served if everyone had some depth of understanding of agriculture, much like physics, history, biology, medicine and chemistry. But we shouldn't all have to continually buy the bulk of our food directly from actual farmers and we don't really need to and still have an appreciation of what it takes to produce food. It's a little like requiring people to buy steel ingots directly from steel mills whenever they needed some shelving.

7:08PM PST on Mar 6, 2011

THANK YOU very much MIT for your message and for your rather WITTY but REFLECTIVE question?.My answer is : -
(i).YES, you do need to know all of those 'fellow-travellers on Planet Earth' AFTER KNOWING EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR FARMER ! REASON_ They are the most complete managers of the our essential food production systems, directly and indirectly of our fresh water supplies and of our 'fresh air supplies'. We survive at birth because of these and without, even Cosmonauts/astronauts perish !
(ii).NO you DO NOT NEED to know about all of those depending on the level sophistication and complexity of your dreams and aspirations. You could still survive perfectly well without all of those you listed (except farmers) as the Pygmies of Central Africa and South/South-East Asia CLEARLY DEMONSTRATE to this day, if 'QUARANTINED' from the excesses and frivolities of modern hyper-Consumerism.The higher Modern (Generic) Man aspires for a 'Perfect Earth Life' in an imperfect World, the more he has, of necessity, to WREAK HAVOC on the Balance of Nature and accelerates the finiteness of the resources that keeps him alive and enables him to aspire for something 'BETTER'. As someone ones said "LIVE SIMPLY SO THAT OTHERS MAY SIMPLY LIVE". The FARMER is the very embodiment of that concept. He gets his or his neighbours bulls to enrich his livestock without ever having heard of CRY-GENETICS !Know about Soil,Fresh Air ,Fresh Water and the FARMER ! Forget about all else!!!! TAKE CARE !

6:12PM PST on Mar 6, 2011

"Know your farmer".

Is there going to be a test?

I have to ask, should we also know your:

engineer
scientist
electronic assembler
jet mechanic
garbage man
mortician
hospital director
CEO
CFO
geneticist
board stuffer
graphic designer
play actor
chess champ
army general
navy ensign
ups packer
truck driver
lineman
electronic technician
office manager
cleaning lady
car assembler
appliance assembler
cop
fireman
chemist
biologist
artist
archeologist
nurse
bacteriologist
etc.
etc.
etc. ?

12:28AM PDT on Jul 28, 2010

Dear friends & green environmentalists,
dear farmers from all around the globe,

Water scarcity is an increaisng problem in the world and over 100 countries have already been extremely affected. Not only as of old-fashioned farming techniques and with-on-surface-irrigation instead of subsurface irrigation systems in many countries (Middle East & Africa) whereas the water scarcity is the main caus by the global warming caused resulting as of human over-consumption and mass animal production beside other causes (www.suprememastertv.com).

Please see attached the beginning of a new series of our GEREMCO youtube videos about our "Original patented GEREMCO DUNE SAND product technology for agricultural/landscape and many other applications as part of our global marketing strategy and business expansion with many GREEN events and projects taking place in the near future on global level based on our mission and "Greening the Deserts, Steppes, Savannahs & GEREMCO GREEN vision 2010 - 2050 - 2110 "Turning deserts green...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mEhN_M0fJg

12:27AM PDT on Jul 28, 2010

Your suggestions, comments are highly welcomed.

We will soon have an also an own associated foundation "WWWEC" in place which will serve as a platform to help most of all the underprivileged human beings for all their related questions/problems of HAVING TOO MUCH WATER & NOT HAVING ENOUGH WATER whereas we will offer solutions for their problems.

We look forward to join hands with all of you who wish to support our GEREMCO GREEN vision 2010 - 2050 - 2110.

Sincerely Yours

Marco Russ & Kuno von Wedelstedt
CMO & CEO
www.geremco.com
gecodune@gmail.com

8:31PM PDT on Jul 13, 2010

just a note organic is better but not fool proof. Still wash your veggies and fruits. limit your highly toxic fruit intake so you don't get too much of even organic pesticides and fungicides. And remember always the rain clouds go around the world and so does the wind so no matter how careful the farmer is there is the chance you'll get bad pesticides. So much of this is common sense and just being educated on what is out there.
Long time organic shopper.

2:12AM PDT on Jun 29, 2010

Thanks

1:51PM PDT on Apr 6, 2010

Thanks for this interesting read! My newest dilemma is whether to start shopping at stores like Wal-Mart that are now offering local, organic produce.

http://blog.greensherpa.com/index.php/personal-finance/produce-wars-wal-mart-or-whole-foods/

What do you think of this topic?

5:39PM PDT on Mar 15, 2010

ggreat article

7:08AM PST on Mar 10, 2010

I'll tell you what it will take. A compulsory tour of feedlots and slaughterhouses so everyone know exactly where their food is coming from. Modern mankind is so far removed from our food supply that the association between what we eat and how it gets to our plate has no meaning whatsoever.

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