Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fair Food

It's a perfect Maine summer day. Sam and I wash beautiful
purple onions. Feathery carrots are being dug out of the good Orono
soil. College students are placing kale, chard, corn, potatoes, and
other locally grown veggies in colorful cloth bags. Our benevolent
bosses, Shelley and John Jemmison, carry on genial oversight, assisted
capably by garden dog Mika. After a juice and melon snack we deliver
the goodie bags to residents of two low income senior citizen housing
complexes. They await our arrival like kids anticipating a visit from
Santa. They admire the food, swap for favorites, discuss recipes...
I believe Oran Hesterman, author of Fair Foods: Growing A Healthy,
Sustainable Food System For All, would surely approve.
Let's face it. Our current food system is really screwed up.
Hesterman starts off by discussing the myriad reasons things have gone
wrong. We aren't protecting our precious water and soil from overuse,
erosion, and pollution. Much prime farm land is not being used for
farming. Current agricultural and transportation practices contribute
to climate change. Many people lack access to healthy food, resulting
in too high prevalence of obesity related diseases. Outbreaks of food
born illness and the increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria strains
are major health problems. And workers at every point of food
production from harvest to waiting tables are treated as "expendable".
In the face of all this, Hesterman is an optimist. There are
some revolutionary undertakings in all arenas from reducing use of
chemicals in the farm to bringing wholesome produce to people with
lack of access to even basic grocery stores. The examples he cites
are truly inspirational.
George Shelter, a Michigan dairyman, was on the verge of losing
his farm. Then he began a system of letting his cattle eat grass in a
pasture rotation rather than buying feed. The benefits went beyond
saving money and getting back into the black. His actions had
positive environmental impacts. And he was able to produce better
milk and ice cream and sell them locally.
My favorite section is "From Conscious Consumer To Engaged
Citizen." The advice starts with what you can do in your kitchen and
community and goes on with ways to influence institutions and public
policy. Talk about inspiring! The policies section has over 50 pages
of organizations to connect with and learn from.
All I can say is if you care about the book already!
On a more personal note: I'm enjoying the week before Christmas--
friends, family, our lap cat, planning surprises for loved ones, our
beautiful Christmas tree.
A great big shout out goes out to John, Shelley, and the rest of the
Orono Community Garden crew--especially Mika.
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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