“When we told our youth that farming was a lowly aim compared with becoming teachers, doctors, or lawyers, what were we thinking? We need teachers for just a few of life’s decades. If we are lucky, we’ll see a doctor only a few times a year, and a lawyer even less. But we need farmers every single day of our lives, beginning to end. No exceptions.” -Barbara Kingsolver
- Farmer's Diary
Food is always at our fingertips, and access to food so convenient that we often forget the means to the end. We see the food as an obstacle before the end of a recipe, as a vehicle for body energy and as a catalyst of social interaction, but do we see food as its components? As the parts that make up a single ingredient? Do we see the synthetics, the engineering, and the fossil fuels? Or alternatively, the soil, the sunshine, and the farmers who toiled over it?
If we begin to think of food as the parts that create it and the system from whence it comes, then we can begin to reconnect the broken links between well-being, environment, and farmers. By eating locally, we can witness and interact with the system first hand. We can see the humus of the soil, rich with mycelium and life, or the dry and dusty particles, stagnant with toxins and chemicals. We can talk to our farmer, hear her practices, her successes, and her failures. We can observe the health and abundance of the birds and the insects and the livestock.
There are four basic necessities in life: water, food, shelter, and air. We are keenly aware when most of these necessities are faulty. We are wary of unsafe and unclean water, we can feel our throats burn in times of forest fire smoke, and we feel solace when we come indoors from a cold afternoon out. But the impacts of unhealthy foods are not immediate and do not trigger us immediately.
The only true way to know our food is to know the land and the people who grow it. To grow our own food or to support a local sustainable farmer, eliminates the guesswork at the grocery store, the reading of convoluted nutrition facts, and brings certainty in a life of misleadings and advertisements. This process also allows us to reconnect with one the the things most important to our lives that we have taken for granted.
Eating locally can revitalize our community and our bodies. It can rehabilitate our impact on the soil, the water, and the air. It can teach us to reconnect with what sustains us.
-Megan French is co-owner of Boundless Farmstead in Bend.