New commitment to food
September 16, 2009
While the tomato and potato blight presents a particularly pressing challenge to farmers of the Northeast this summer, farmers of all regions are consistently presented with challenges in survival of their crops, farms, and themselves. As the biggest growing season, the summer is often the season that makes or breaks it for the farmer in the upcoming year. Facing these challenges and the constant degradation of the environment prompts many farmers and consumers to turn towards sustainable agriculture as a way to preserve themselves and the environment.
A growing number of people are getting excited about local and organic produce and more and more guarded about conventionally grown food. As awareness builds, one would hope that the consumer base would build as well. While consumers have built their awareness on food issues and the importance of buying local, farmers still struggle to sell enough of their produce.
Consumers here in the Roaring Fork Valley bustle into the farmers’ markets of Basalt and Aspen, but relationships need to be formed more than once a week, and such once-a-week options need to be plentiful. In order for sustainable agriculture to thrive, consumers need to commit more of their food dollars to the local farmer.
Consumers who want to both work towards better health and preservation of the earth might consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). CSAs differ from farm to farm, but mostly centers on the idea of paying a price up front and receiving a bundle of fresh produce from the farm every week. Often a CSA share can be paid off in part by labor.
Often consumers find they either don’t have the time or the need for pick up or use of the vegetables provided. Such consumers should consider a more rigorous farmers market and farmers stand schedule, depending on how many people you have to feed. Starting at the Aspen market on Saturdays, one could make a full week starting with Aspen, then going to the Basalt’s farmer’s market on Sunday, Monday a trip to Buttermilk to the fruit stand, Tuesday could be a trip to the Farm Stand on 82 at the Philip’s gas station, a break on Wednesday, a trip to Woody Creek on Thursday for the small new market at the Community Center, a break on Friday, and then back to Aspen.
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This schedule seems demanding and not totally reasonable, but then again neither is the current conventional food system. A reliance on the convenience of conventional food has come to bear a great cost to both people and the environment. A new commitment to food must be made, which can begin with local farmers. Committing to local, sustainable food means to a new relationship to food that not only centers on a wholesome preservation of the earth and people, but on fresher and better tasting food.
As summer comes to the end, all who wish for better food and a healthier earth must work to form alliances with farmers for more sustainable farms and food justice.