When is the last time you met the person who grows the food you eat? A hundred years ago it was not uncommon for most people to have chickens, a milk cow and a garden. Most everyone could also say they knew a butcher and a baker. It wasn’t until post-WW II when the industrialization of our nation’s food system began to create a commodity market for meats, dairy and produce. Shelf stability also became a game-changer for the landscape of food production with the inclusion of additives and preservatives. We are coming upon an important crossroads in the history of food in that it is very possible for the rising generation to spend an entire lifetime never knowing the origin of the food they eat. For instance, when you get a basket of chicken tenders how many chickens did it take to create that meal? Or how many miles do blueberries and tomatoes have to travel to be in the grocery store produce section in the middle of winter?
My challenge to you is to get to know your local farmers and try to eat as local and in season as possible. Why? Because consuming meat from animals eating local grasses, honey from bees pollinating local flora and vegetables grown in season will create a fresh and healthy menu that provides your body with the minerals, nutrients and antioxidants it needs in the season you need it. For example, the delicate flesh of tomatoes is protected from the intensity of the summer sun because of lycopene and one of the major health benefits of eating tomatoes is sun protection. When are tomatoes ready to harvest and eat? July and August the hottest summer months when we need it the most. Another example is the difference between spring and fall honey and the importance of both. Our pasture-based meats are lower in total fat and offers more of the good fats (Omega-3s); higher in antioxidants: vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C; higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium; and is considered the richest known source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is believed to be one of the most potent defenses against cancer. When you know the farmer, you can see their production model in practice and know the food you eat is grown in a sustainable and responsible manner.