Shifting Food from Factory to Family

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Maybe it's because one year ago today I baked my first loaf of homemade bread and haven't looked back. Maybe it's because I recently watched the excellent, new documentary, Farmageddon, about the regulatory war on small farms in America. Maybe it's because I picked up the most recent issue of The New Yorker at our local newsstand and read the cover story on the ridiculous obstacles to raw (unpasteurized) milk sales and distribution throughout the country. Maybe it's because I am dreaming of our summer farm-stay vacation where we can become more connected to food and farm. Or maybe it's because this guy mysteriously appeared yesterday in the small backyard of our city condo building.

Whatever it is, I am fired up about food and farm. I am puzzled by how I became so detached from my food and only recently began the process of shifting control of our food from factory to family. How did this happen? How did pesticide-ridden, genetically-modified, factory-produced food become the norm in this country, while fresh, pure, time-honored, nutrient-dense foods become scarcer, more difficult to find, and, in some cases--like raw milk in certain states--outright illegal?

It's baffling to me, for instance, that it would be perfectly legal and convenient for me to feed my kids a daily diet of fast food and nachos, but I can't buy raw milk here in the city. (In Massachusetts, as in several other states, direct-farm sales of raw milk are allowed from regulated raw milk dairies.) As I've mentioned before, I love our lightly-pasteurized, glass-bottled milk from a Vermont organic farm collaborative, but I would like the convenient and legal choice to purchase raw milk here in the city. And for families in many states, it's outright illegal to purchase raw milk anywhere.

Raw milk is just one example of how our access to real, local, farm-fresh, wholesome food has become constrained over the past half-century by government regulators and big agricultural interests. I am hoping that the pendulum is due to swing back. I am hoping that families will grow increasingly outraged that their food is being controlled by factories not farmers, by federal regulatory bureaucracies and large food conglomerates, and not local communities and informed consumers.

I am doing my best to take back control of my family's food sources and engage in more rewarding urban homemaking as a result. Perhaps my visiting backyard turkey is a signal that city families are ready to take back the farm.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more. I am often really resentful of how HARD it is to feed my family the way I truly desire--hard to acquire the local food, hard to pay for it, hard to be constantly in search of something better than what the grocery store offers, hard to spend so much time in the kitchen when there are so many other things to do.

    We dream of raising our own animals for milk, eggs and meat, but with the price of land these days, is a small family farm even possible?

    I often say "I am so sick of always thinking about food!" It really was so much easier to be ignorant!

    End of rant...

    1. Patti, I love your rant! It echoes exactly how I feel. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!