Out on the bikes again this weekend we covered 19 miles. We’re getting ready for this Saturday’s Buy Fresh, Bike Local Event in Boiling Springs, PA sponsored by Slow Food Harrisburg. It’s a 25 mile ride followed by a lunch at Dickinson College Farm catered by local chefs, caterers and farmers using locally grown food. In addition to the scrumptious lunch, there will also be vendors and local artisans to visit. Proceeds from this event will benefit the South Central PA Chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local.
If this sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday morning, you can still get tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/117903. If the bike ride scares you, you can always just show up for the food or choose the shorter 10 mile ride option.
There is a movement among us to raise awareness about the state of our food supply. Slow Food Harrisburg is part of the International Slow Food movement originally begun in Italy in response to McDonald's opening up shot there. Buy Fresh, Buy Local, is part of Food Routes Network, a national nonprofit organization that provides communications tools, technical support, networking and information resources to organizations nationwide that are working to rebuild local, community-based food systems. To find your own local chapter check out http://www.foodroutes.org/buy-fresh-buy-local.jsp.
There are times when I am acutely aware that I am in the minority when it comes to my food values. I am still stunned to see the Cracker Barrel parking lot jammed at 3pm on a week day. I shake my head in horror as I detour my way around a snaking line for the drive up window at the Arby’s. I understand the occasional fast food necessity (sort of), but the demand for fast food is still huge, despite the fact that the food purchased there is not just bad for your health and the local farm economy, but could kill you. I believe if the people purchasing that Big Mac, spent a day touring the Feed lots where that beef is grown and the manufacturing plant where it is processed they would spend their hard earned money elsewhere. It seems unconscionable that we care not about the treatment of the animals who gave up their lives for our lunch. And it seems plain stupid that we aren’t concerned about the way our food is handled and processed before we eat it.
We are much too far removed from our food. Most of us don’t know where it comes from, let alone, what’s in that bag of cheese curls we just gave our children. I’ve been watching the series Mad Men (I’m only on Season Three, so don’t spoil it for me) and I’m blown away by the way everyone smokes. From what I’ve read the show is very realistic and I do vaguely remember the way people smoked during my childhood. Smokers enjoyed a near majority. Nowadays they seem to be the social lepers because we all know smoking can kill you. If we could time travel somehow back to the 50’s and explain this to the pack of women smoking while their children played on the swingset, they would laugh at us. Smoking can’t be dangerous – everyone smokes, silly! If it was going to kill us the government wouldn’t allow it!
Ahh, such trust we have in our government. We don’t trust it with our tax money, our childrens’ education, or our personal information, but we sure trust it to ensure that the food available to us is safe. What are we thinking? Or why aren’t we thinking? If you haven’t figured it out by now, the government is run in large part by the guy with the largest pockets, which in most cases would be the big companies that make a fortune on unhealthy food laden with pesticides and grown with GMO seeds, meat stuffed with antibiotics and raised in feed lots, and “food” made from artificial ingredients, chemicals, additives, fillers, and enough salt and sugar to mask it all. We are getting fatter and sicker, and we blame it on advertising and will power? Why can we not connect the dots??
OK, I’m just saying.
Back to feeling like I’m in the minority. I join organizations like Slow Food Harrisburg and Buy Fresh, Buy Local PA because they are doing the hard, thankless work of raising public awareness and questioning the laws and ethics that govern the food industry. They are fighting for the local food economy and the farmers that haven’t given up. So I support them. Attending events like this Buy Fresh, Bike Local Ride this weekend lets me have a few moments with kindred spirits. For a few hours I’m one of the majority. These are people invested in their communities and their health. They get it.
If you want to connect with others in your own community who are striving for a healthier self, community, and world, look up one of the following organizations. Even if you can’t attend their events, you can support them with your membership and spread the word.
A national nonprofit organization that provides communications tools, technical support, networking and information resources to organizations nationwide that are working to rebuild local, community-based food systems. http://www.foodroutes.org/
A non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. To do that, Slow Food brings together pleasure and responsibility, and makes them inseparable.
Today, we have over 100,000 members in 132 countries http://www.slowfood.com/
Center for a Livable Future (Johns Hopkins University)
As the world's population and consumer demand continue to grow, there is urgent need to improve human health, prevent disease, and meet basic needs for food, water and shelter equitably for all people. The challenge of our time is to meet these goals as population increases while protecting the environment, preserving biodiversity, and conserving finite resources to meet the needs of future generations. http://www.jhsph.edu/
Green America (formerly Coop America)
Green America is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982. Our mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. http://www.greenamericatoday.org/
Eat Well Guide
The Eat Well Guide® is a free online directory for anyone in search of fresh, locally grown and sustainably produced food in the United States and Canada. http://www.eatwellguide.org/
Helps you locate farmers’ markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies. http://www.localharvest.org/
The Center for Food Safety
This group works to protect human health and the environment by curbing the proliferation of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. This site even has a non-GMO Food Shoppers Guide (with a phone app for you tech junkies that is downloadable) to help you avoid GMO foods. http://www.truefoodnow.org/
If you are what you eat, and you don't know what you're eating, do you know who you are? --Unknown
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Crash Patrols the Chicken Pen
In an effort to deter the hawks who were making off with our hens in alarming numbers, we strung up the chicken pen with wire and hanging plastic. Not only does it work, but it gives the pen a certain party atmosphere!
What I'm Reading and Loving
Organic Manifesto by Maria Rodale
Magical Journey by Katrina Kenison
What to Eat by Marion Nestle
My Year of Meats by Ruth L Ozeki
Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter
A Householder's Guide to the Universe by Harriet Fasenfest
Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman
Food Rules by Michael Pollan
Second Nature by Michael Pollan
Coop: A Family, A Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg by Michael Perry
I'm a reluctantly busy mother of three children, one large partially educated horse, 22 chickens, 2 cats, 2 hound dogs, and assorted small animals that live in aquariums. I am blessed with an incredibly patient husband who is almost always a good sport. We live on 6 acres on a hill side in South Central Pennsylvania. I'm a compulsive writer, constant thinker, and passionate believer in organic living. As a freelance writer always looking for work, I welcome your suggestions, connections, and sympathy!