Uh, where does food come from? (Editorial)
This classified ad that reads: “To all you hunters who kill animals for food, shame on you; you ought to go to the store and buy the meat that was made there, where no animals were harmed” appeared a year or so ago in The Daily Record of Kankakee, Ill., in its “Speakout” column:
It is just another tragic example of the agri-illiteracy which has invaded the socio-economic consciousness of 21st century America.
Now happily, mercifully, thankfully, the nation’s agricultural industry — in all of its varied segments and endeavors — has decided to fight back.
In New Jersey, on Sept. 1, an estimated 1,500 urbanites and suburbanites from the central portion of the state were expected to gather at the Rutgers University Snyder Research Farm in Hunterdon County to taste tomatoes.
It was what Rutgers calls the Great Tomato Tasting in which Extension specialists and researchers seek feedback on the 100 tomato varieties and 70 varieties of peppers being grown at the research farm near Pittstown.
Ye,s indeed, the tasting provides information for the ultimate commercialization of some of the varieties but lurking within is the subliminal message that “here is what farming is all about ... farmers grow food ... buy local, eat fresh.”
In Pennsylvania, the National Farm City Council will mark National Farm-City Week, Nov. 19-26, with a symposium at the Lancaster Host Resort emntitled “Agriculture: A Growing Story.”
The focus of the symposium will be to counter incorrect information on agriculture and agricultural issues that is being fed to the general public.
In Maryland, the organization known as 1000 Friends of Farming is expecting about that many folks to show up for its second Farm Fest, this one at the Prigel Family Creamery in Glen Arm on Oct. 2.
The organization’s mission is to “Keep Farmers Farming,” and the Farm Fest will be a food-filled, music-filled, fun-filled celebration of agriculture and a salute to farmers, offering at least three local food vendors, a farmers’ market with at least 15 booths, Prigel Dairy ice cream, Maryland wine and beer, four local bands and maybe even some cowpie bingo.
Organic dairy farmer Bob Prigel is offering, and showcasing his farm for his urban and suburban neighbors as a way of saying, in the words of the American Farmland Trust, “No Farms, No Food.”
And finally, this week, Sept. 13-17 in Maryland, is “Homegrown School Lunch Week”
School children in hundreds of public schools across Maryland will get a taste of fresh, Maryland-grown and produced food in their lunches.
The Homegrown School Lunch Week was created during the 2008 session of the Maryland General Assembly when SB 158 Farm-to-School Program — Activities and Promotional Events, was signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley.
The program is designed to help educate students about where their food comes from, how it is produced, and the benefits of a healthy diet as well as to expand markets for Maryland farmers.
The “buy local eat fresh” phenomenon which is engaging the attention of consumers in these parts finds its roots in a culture which is concerned about obesity, about the disappearance of farmland, about an ignorance of food production — an ignorance which seems to deepen with each succeeding generation — and about the sustainabilityof the land, the environment and a way of life.
As we are all realizing, it offers a “teaching moment” which cannot be ignored.