Warning: this post may come off a little preachy but it is a subject we both feel passionately about.
We are blessed and privileged to live the lifestyle that we do. We have traveled and experienced so much in the last year. The number one lesson we have taken away over the last year? We live in a nation filled with amazing people that do so much and ask nothing in return.
This is the post that serves as the inspiration for the Regional Gems blog posts which will become a regular feature henceforth. The average American consumer, and I count us amongst that descriptor, wants the most value for their hard earned dollar. We shop big box stores because we assume their prices are the lowest, we do business online rather than brick and mortar stores because prices are lower, and we demand everything be as inexpensive as possible but with the highest possible quality.
Stuck in the middle are the farmers and ranchers that produce the food and raw materials that grace our tables and households. They don’t live in big cities and live in places where the vast majority of the country would never consider living. For the purposes of this blog post, it doesn’t matter if it is a family farm or a farm run by big business.
Fields, crops, and herds all require human intervention. Someone has to get up early to feed the herd, milk the cows, plant the seeds etc. There are no farm or ranch fairies that come along and magically milk the cows or bring in the crop. It takes a human working long, lonely hours to put milk on our tables, steak on our grills, and vegetables on our plates.
Farm to table is a growing movement in the restaurant industry but it is too little, too late. Restaurants that offer farm to table menus are too few and far between. Do you really want to help the farmer and know where your food comes from? Then stop searching for the cheapest food source and support your local businesses.
The best food we’ve had has been obtained at the small local grocer who is in contact with the local farmers and ranchers. We’ve had beef that was so tender and flavorful it melted in your mouth. It was raised locally, butchered locally, and available in the local grocery. We’ve had farm fresh eggs that were so fresh the yolks were orange yellow and not pale yellow. And these are just a few of the examples we’ve had the privilege to experience the last year.
Farmers and ranchers are subject to weather and being unwanted as “civilization” encroaches on traditional farm land. One bad season of rain or weather and an entire crop can be wiped out. What, if any, of the crop that can be salvaged then increases the price to the consumer and the consumer complains on the rising cost of food. The farmer doesn’t have the privilege of telling the crop that he will harvest when it’s just a wee bit warmer or when it’s light out, farmer doesn’t get weekends off or two week vacations when the weather is nice.
Those precious green buds poking out of the ground are a family’s livelihood. One tornado, one large hail storm, drought, or a multitude of other things can go wrong. Consumers complain about pesticide use and want organic this and non-GMO that, but then they complain just as vocally when the price of food increases to meet their complaints on how food is produced. How often do big city folks stop and think about where their food actually comes from? We have made the conscious decision to shop local grocers and liquor stores as we travel. There has been a negligible increase in prices but there has been a substantial increase in quality of life.
If you want to be part of the solution, then stop with the occasional feel good treat out at a farm to table restaurant and start with the cooking of farm to table food every day. Your family, your health, and energy levels will thank you. The farmers and ranchers will silently thank you.
Over the coming weeks and months, we will share those local grocers and products we have found to be exceptional.