Supporting Farmers, Eating Local Food

Folks, it ain’t normal to rely on unsustainable, inhumane industrial food. It’s time to return to normal, seasonal eating and local food from time-tested farming methods.

| June/July 2012

Local Food Garden in Philadelphia

A garden in Philadelphia puts formerly unused space to work growing food.


Joel Salatin’s newest book, Folks, This Ain’t Normal (Center Street, 2011) describes, with Joel’s distinctive voice, how far removed we are from the simple, sustainable joy that comes from living close to the land and the people we love in the 21st centuryExplore how local food and seasonal eating, when done right, are ways to return our food system to normalcy. The following excerpt was adapted from Folks, This Ain’t Normal.

The average morsel of food sees more of the world than the farmer who grows it, traveling an average of 1,500 miles from field to fork. It takes 15 calories of energy to put 1 calorie on the table, and 4 of those are expended in transportation.

Folks, this ain’t normal.

When you go to the supermarket, the majority of what’s for sale came from some other state. Imagine walking down the aisles, then ask yourself, “What could be produced within 100 miles of here?”

In most areas, the list is lengthy: Apples, barley, beef, beets, cabbage, carrots, cherries, chicken, corn, cucumbers, dairy products, grapes, honey, oats, pork, potatoes, tomatoes, wheat, coffee.

OK, I was just seeing whether you were on your toes with that last one. But, most of what we eat can indeed be grown nearby. Often it can’t be grown year-round, however, and therein lies the conundrum. You can’t have a viable local food system without a seasonal eating commitment, which includes preserving seasonal production for nonseasonal consumption.

ginger stephens
7/13/2012 7:11:03 PM

I have been wanting to do this for years but I have MS and it is hard , sometimes not at all possible for me to do. I was thinking that if more people thought about doing this than I could help when I could and someone else could take over when I couldn't and we could share the veggies. Now if I could only convince my partner it is the thing to do.

kane harper
7/7/2012 8:46:59 PM

Gardening in the Southeast (South). I was so HAPPY to see the acticle "Gardening in the Southeast" in (June/July 2012). I was delighted to see and read about Ms. Ira Wallace! She reminds me of some of my kin-folk with her number one favorite veggie being collard greens! I grew up on collard greens from my Grandfather's garden that were organically grown. We didn't know that at that time, we just thought it was the only way! I enjoy Mother Earth News immensely, it would be great to see more acticles on the South (the deep South) where sustainable Homesteading originated!

nancy smith
7/7/2012 4:24:10 AM

Eating locally makes too much sense. It requires a network of local producers within a reasonable distance from urban areas, and a culture that values the skills and work necessary for such production. It requires, as well, a regulatory system which does not seem biased in favor of institutional producers. Urban farm cooperatives would seem an obvious option, but, again, they require the acquisition of knowledge and contribution of effort on the part of the members. The value of "sweat equity" is undervalued in our society and, thus, hinders our ability to capitalize on our resources.

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