At dinner the other night, my 14 year old son pulled up his chair to the dinner table with his eyes bright and stated, "that's one thing I love about living on a farm, the good homemade food!" I laughed, because we were eating seasoned baked pork tenderloin, sauteed garlic green beans, and mashed potatoes. Most of the ingredients were bought at the store. The green beans had been frozen and the potatoes were instant. As a full-time single mom working 45+ hours a week outside the home, that was about all I had the energy to throw together after a long day at work.
What he said got me thinking though (as well as made pride swell up in my gut). Farming really made me take a step back and start cooking more from scratch (not that frozen green beans and instant potatoes are from scratch lol), and my children value this. We have raised and traded for many things over the last 6+ years including goat, rabbit, pork, beef, poultry, vegetables, fruits, seasonings and herbs, canned goods, and even pre-made sweets and treats. There really is a difference in quality when you eat fresh, plus there is a huge factor in knowing where your food came from, what went into it, and how it was raised and even slaughtered (as in ethically and humanely). The flavors are better, more intense, and it just feels a whole lot more rewarding to know that they food we are putting into our bodies was raised with good stewardship.
I really enjoy looking at even my seasoning drawer and cupboard and seeing bay leaves from August and his wife, and the lemon extract from Dinnertime Farms, and the homemade vanilla that our friend Ashley made. There's a story behind each of those of things, and I am 100% confident that they were made with care and without extra things that don't need to be added.
Our society has this huge disconnect from our food sources. Some peoples' answer to this disconnect is to raid factory farming and try to bring awareness of the practices behind these places to light. Unfortunately, that has brought up a lot of controversy and I can't say I condone a lot of the behavior that has lumped most of these attempts into one big mess.
Instead of boycotting those factory farms, I think our best bet as a society is to support local. Redirect your dollars and your attention. I need to take my own advice, and I know first-hand how tough that is. It can be expensive (although in the long run when you factor in how much HEALTHIER these foods are, and how being healthier in general makes for fewer medical and hospital bills plus just feeling better). But, if you start small, and start with habits that are baby steps, then it won't seem like such an unattainable goal. Maybe start with sourcing out your milk source to a local source (have you tried sheeps milk or goat milk yet? Not that stuff you can buy at the grocery store, but local stuff straight from the farm?). Or attend your local farmers markets or farm swap/sale events. Join local groups on Facebook that are designed to connect consumers with local farmers and craftsmen.
I need to follow my own advice. I stop at Walmart at least once a week it seems like for groceries or medicines or something my kids need for school (usually relayed to me at the very last possible moment). I guess it's time for me to put a little more oomph into my own baby steps.
What are some ideas YOU have to help support local economy?