Happy Food Independence Day

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?


Amanda R.
Amanda R8 years ago

It is possible to raise meat without destroying the environment too much (although not cattle). But the emotional distancing and cruelty that inherently comes with raising animals solely for food is wrong. I will not stand for it under any circumstances. The future is meat-free.

Carol S.
Carol S8 years ago

We enjoy and reap the benefits of our organic home garden. However, we recently purchased Miracle Gro ORGANIC CHOICE potting soil. It burned our hands after handling. After some research we found that this product apparently contains biosolids (sludge). Sludge can be everything homeowners, hospitals and industries put down their toilets and drains (including prescription drugs, sweepings of slaughterhouses, & wastewater treatment residue). The end product can be a concentrated mass of heavy metals and carcinogenic, teratogenic, and hormone-disrupting chemicals, gorged with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This area smells like the sewer after watering. It's been suggested by an old time farmer that we dig up the soil and dispose of it in plastic bags. In the future, we will always do research BEFORE we buy because these types of products seem to be pervasive throughout the fertilizer industry.

Bradley Harris
Bradley Harris8 years ago

I thinking America is finally realizing that copreate farming is a diaster. For our food to be safe and wholsome we need to go back to the family own farms.

Shevlin R.
Shevlin R8 years ago

We currently do not grow our own food, but that is because we live in an apartment in the desert Southwest. When we move to the Pacific Northwest, that *will* change. :)

Glenna Jones-kachtik
Glenna Kachtik8 years ago

Penelope, I understand what you are saying; but not feeding cows or chickens or pigs or whatever and not giving them water will cause them to die. These animals are here. Unless you are going to advocate that they go extinct don't we have to provide for them.
I understand that you are really trying to just get people to understand that you think raising animals for food is wrong. I am all for more locally grown everything - plant & animal products.
Unless you are advocating that all cows, pigs, etc be neutered or spayed so that they die a natural death and are not replaced these animals will be here. Their predators are being hunted down and killed.
Everything is a cycle and it needs to be in balance. When you have more of one thing than another, it is not balanced.
Your statements are not false. They are so very true; however eliminating meat from our diets will not improve any of those statements. We need to go back to sustainable farming - less feedlots, less agribusiness & more locally grown items and animals - period!

Donald H.
Donald H8 years ago

With just one food item you could convince yourself to 'grow your own'. Put out some 'peas'... Once you've tasted what 'real peas' taste like, you'll never buy another can of 'whatever it is they call peas'. From there a person can 'add on' each year...till they get to a 'comfort level' of doing as much as they can. It isn't just 'the most healthy thing to do', it's also 'an environmental thing to do', a 'WOW!, that's good thing to do', an 'environmental thing to do'...and an 'exercise thing to do'...ALL GOOD THINGS...oh and, honestly, a little work but fun thing to do...

Penelope B.

Scientists have now proven that methane from animal agriculture traps 72 times more heat than Co2 in a 20 year period. So if people gave up meat we could cool the planet really quickly - give us time to get the green technology really up and running. Also nitrous oxide from animal factory farming is 310 times more potent than Co2, and hydrogen sulfide from factory farms is leathal if you breath it. The United Nations put out a report in 2006 that stated that flesh eating is the number one killer on the planet, thats where all our money goes into the health system to help people who have dis-eases from eating meat. That is cardio vascular problems, diabetes 2, cancer of all types, obesity etc etc . In fact there was a report just issued this week about how meat causes pancreatic cancer, check out the facts on the attached link, from scientists and from a spiritual understanding too

People need to consider growing their own food, there is already a shortage of food on the planet, and 923 million people starving, yet that food that is fed to animals could feed 2 billion people, so why do we feed animals and not people.
Also we have a problem with water, it takes 1200 gallons of water to produce 1 piece of beefsteak, it takes 98 gallons of water to produce a full vegan meal of rice, veges and soy protein. There are such good soy based foods now, soy chicken, soy ham, soy beef, etc why kill?

Lesley P.
Lesley P.8 years ago

Everyday, of course, should should be Local Food Independence Day. I have grown much of my own food since the 70's and continue to grow tomatoes, basil, a baytree and assorted edibles on my apartment patio. When my children, now 41 and 39 were growing up, we grew "market garden" size gardens till I realized I could do with a smaller plot. These gardens fed six persons and lots of family and friends. Whenever possible, I buy locally from organic farmers.

Hilary S.
Hilary S8 years ago

Local eating is not only good for the environment, it somehow just feels right to me. I love knowing the people who grow my food! This past week, I missed my local farmer's market due to a scheduling mishap and just missed the ritual of connecting with my local food providers. And wow, do I notice it during the week. I just eat so much worse! We don't have the wonderful local veggies and fruits we've been enjoying, so I'm scrambling to find things to fill the void - luckily, I've been keeping my own garden so much of the food is coming straight from the backyard. But, the family is getting a bit tired of beets, carrots and kale, so I'm impatient for Friday to re-fill on the delicious stone fruits and berries flooding the market right now. :)