My overall food and health goal for my family is to reduce our reliance on "barcode food;" that is, food that we purchase through stores. I wrote last year about giving up the grocery store, something much more easily accomplished during these abundant summer months when farms, farmers' markets, CSA offerings, farm collaboratives, and our own gardens are bursting with fresh harvests.
I recently learned the term "non-bar code food" while reading more of organic farmer, Joel Salatin's, great work. I just finished his book, Folks, This Ain't Normal, that explores in depth just how far we have strayed from normalcy in American food production and consumption, and the steps it requires to move the pendulum back.
Perhaps the greatest thing we can do as consumers is opt-out of industrial food altogether, choosing instead to buy direct from local, sustainable farms and farm collaboratives. This food is not only nutritionally superior, it is also ecologically superior and supports local economies. Check out Local Harvest.org to help locate farm-fresh food near you.
But why should we care? Why should we pay more for better food? The fact that we Americans pay more for healthcare and less for food than any other country is reason for pause. Where are our priorities? I fully believe that food is medicine, and that by consuming farm-fresh, nutrient-dense, sustainably produced, chemical-free foods we are ensuring our family's health and well-being now and into the future.
And yes, it costs a bit more to eat this way. But shouldn't it? Shouldn't we be allocating more of our disposable income to something as important as food instead of some of the other non-essentials we find ourselves purchasing? Or, as my friend Sam at My Barefoot Farm realized, if you don't want to pay more for better food, or can't find it, you can find ways to produce it on your own. Even in urban areas, backyard chickens and rabbitries and rooftop gardens are becoming more prevalent.
I hope that someday I will be able to produce more of my family's own food, but until then, purchasing and preparing as much food as I can direct from farms and farm collaboratives seems a reasonable--and important--goal. In the summer it's easy to gather the majority of our foods outside of grocery stores, so it's a great time to begin--or resume--this effort.
NO BARCODE FOOD SUMMER CHALLENGE! Could you commit to a summer goal of purchasing over half of your family's weekly food directly from farms (or your garden!)? 80 percent?
For all the talk of local, sustainable food, less than five percent of Americans actually eat this way! Let's put our money where our mouth is and improve family and community health with great food.