I was reminded of this very fact the other day when I was back in Michigan. It wasn't being in MI which stirred these thoughts in me, it was the time alone in the car. I look forward to the long drives, the time spent alone in the car lost in thoughts, listening to music and as it were on this trip, lots of books on CD. On the way home I listened to Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle, which awakened something in me. I listened, feeling called to appreciate the simplicity of the life her family had chosen for themselves--a life of eating as organically and mindfully as possible. A year where her family tries to eat as much as possible the things which can be grown/raised by themselves or attained as locally/regionally as possible--a life which is close at hand here at the Farm.
One of the main themes of the book is that eating in a fashion that is mindful and socially conscious is not that difficult; available to each of is the ability to change the way we feed our families and hopefully, eventually impact the greater food system. Supporting local farmers means not only keeping jobs and farms in your area, but it also means fresher, better quality of food; food that you can trace back to it's home! Buying local also decreases our carbon footprints, since so much of our food comes to us from all over the world! It is getting easier and easier to shop local. Now many Farmer's Markets are working with W.I.C. (Women, Infants and Children) to better serve those poor who are at a higher nutrional risk.
Listening to the book made me even more thankful for the community in which I live: the Farm community and the more "global" local community. At the Farm we are able to raise our own cows and pigs for dairy and meat, chickens are raised for eggs; vegetables are grown outside in our own wonderful soil through late spring, summer and fall, harvested and eaten, processed and stored for winter consumption. Our chickens, pigs and cows all see plenty of day light with time outdoors. Our cows eat silage and hay in the colder times, moving to literally greener pastures of alfalfa and grass in the summer. These things sound simple, but are not common place for many of the animals that are raised and consumed by Americans everyday.
In the greater area Farmers markets happen and seem to thrive, or at least manage to make it and return year after year. Upon doing some reading the other day, I was pleased as punch to find Farmer's Markets take place in all of these local (or relatively local) cities and towns:
- Berkshire County: Adams, Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Otis, North Adams, Pittsfields, Sheffield, Williamstown (to name a few)
- Hampden County: Chicopee, Holyoke, Springfield, Westfield (to name a few)
- Hampshire County: Belchertown, Easthampton, Northhampton, South Hadley (to name a few)
Here is the link for more information on CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture). CSA's are programs where community members can pay to join, thus supporting the farmers and reaping the benefits of local veggies and fruits throughout the season.
Aside from many countless great things which have come out of Animal Vegetable Miracle, a website has also been birthed. Check out animalvegetablemiracle.com for more info and great recipes.