Understanding Where Our Food Comes From

| 5/24/2018 3:12:00 PM

Tags: Jonathan Olivier, Tennessee, young farmers, local farmers, local food,

local food, local farmers

I’m sure I grew up like many folks my age did. While my mother cooked most of our meals for my two brothers, father and I, we didn’t eat local or from a backyard garden. Really, the only local thing about our food was that it came from the grocery store nearby—with ingredients sourced from around the country produced using the industrial, chemical-laden model.

Organic? That wasn’t part of our vocabulary.

Despite living in a small town and having Cajun grandparents who, just a generation before, grew all of their own food, questioning where our meals came from was the last thing on our mind. Food was just, well, food—so we thought.

Eventually, though, like the prevailing winds of our food culture, my mom started to buy organic—likely due to my persistence, but, nonetheless, our family made a change. We started a small garden in our backyard that provided us with fresh tomatoes, okra and green beans. Then, when we could, we made it to the Red Stick Farmers Market in nearby Baton Rouge, which, today, is thriving more than I ever remember. Suddenly, when I harvested deer or small game from the wilderness near our home, I thought of the meat as free-range, local and as organic as you can get. It started to all make sense.

Why Local Matters

It wasn’t until Brittney and I started in January traveling to farms that I grasped the importance of the world we were entering. While I knew of farmers, I never really got to know one. Along the way this year, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few that, not only have made an impact on my life, but are people I can now call friends. I’ve seen the painstaking effort these folks are taking to produce the best food they possibly can on a limited budget and on a small scale when our system is one that rewards the mega-producers. And to me, that’s paramount. 

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