I promise that this will be my last ” conversation” for a little while! 🙂 But I wanted to share a dream that I so wish would become a reality. I look at food and community some what differently than most. I have lived many places and it is very important to me to become a part of my community as quickly as possible. This involves supporting the local businesses, buying from the local farmers and farmer’s market, joining community groups and committees, going to the library, knowing the people at the post office and with a child being involved in the school and her activities. Do you know all your neighbors? I do and am so glad that I do.
And then there is food. Many years ago I had a stomach disorder, which was finally diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Looking back I think this was one of the best things that happened to me and helped shaped my life in an amazing way. I have always been active and incorporated exercise into my life, but up until about 20 or so years ago, not that concerned as to what I put into my body. I have always loved to cook, but the ingredients I cooked with were just ingredients. Now they are ingredients – that nourish!
But before I get to my dream I have to give some history and some facts:
Let me just write a little about the USDA, which was formed in 1862. It has the third largest budget behind the Army and Navy. The mission statement of the agency: “We provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.” I am not sure what this exactly means, but I know what they have done to our agricultural community and what they have done for our countries growing waist lines! Thanks to Earl Butz in the early 1970’s – as leader of the agency he promoted “get big or get out” – the start of the huge agricultural conglomerates and the decline of the family farm! In 1935 the average size of a farm was 155 acres in 2002 the average size was 441. In a 1998 USDA study a farm with 2000 acres or more has an average revenue per acre per year of $21.40, but a farm of 10 acres or smaller has an average revenue per acre per year of $1,960. Can you understand now why the agricultural conglomerates fight so hard to keep those subsidies?
Most people get their food and everything else from the grocery store. Were you aware that there are no seasons in a grocery store? Grocery stores have 47,000 products and each year another 17,000 “new” food items are introduced. The next time you are at your grocery store think about how they are set up. The “real” food is all around the periphery – but to get there you need to walk through aisle and aisle of “frankenfoods”. The other day I was walking into our local grocery store – I had to get some non-perishable home items – and I noticed on the outside signage it said Natural Food – it made me laugh, what an oxymoron.
I want to get to my dream, but I have just a few more items to share – I will make it quick and I think they speak for themselves and don’t need to be elaborated on.
- For Fiscal year 2011 the US Lunch Program’s budget was $11.1 billion and the California Corrections budget for the same year was $10.01 billion.
- Monsanto was the first exhibitor at Disneyland in 1950.
- We use 1 billion gallons of gasoline a year more than in the 1960’s because of increased weight of individuals.
- 1/5 of fossil fuel goes to the growing, packing and transporting of our food.
- The United States spend less on food and more on medicine than any other culture per capita.
- As corn production has increased so has the obesity rate.
For every $1 spent on health and wellness programs, $3 is saved on health care costs.
With all the reading, listening and watching of documentaries on our food system and our growing obesity rate, my thoughts have been going a million miles a minute – so it is no wonder that I have been having dreams about it all.
My dream was that we all took a step back and slowed the pace of our lives. We invested and supported our local businesses and communities and because of that more businesses came into our communities to meet our needs. Walking and bike paths were built and we could now get to all the places we needed to support our lives without getting into a car! Community gardens were growing all over and even on roof tops. Sprawl ceased to exist and our farm land was once again used for farms and not for housing developments. Local craftsman started to sprout up and there was no need for the big box stores that exploit people and our resources. We were fit and healthy and so were our children.
As I look at my life over the last several years – I am moving closer to having my dream become a reality. I truly believe that others are on the same dream path and seeing that the dream is not so far off into the future! And as promised – next week will be back to normal. I think with all the politics and natural disasters that we have been through in our area of the nation – I had plenty of time to contemplate! Have a wonderful weekend and go take a walk through your local farmer’s market!