Remember the days when all of our food came from our neighbor the farmer? Yeah, neither do we. But it wasn't long ago that that was how things worked! Today, each piece of food on our plates probably travels further than your family did on their last vacation which creates an incredible carbon footprint and makes us feel more detached from the land more than ever before. The information this chart captures is startling:
What does it mean? Since 1935, the number of American farms has dramatically declined. Oddly enough, the acreage per farm has ferociously risen. This is because food is now being produced in incredible quantities, usually in one variety per location, then shipped all over the country instead of lots of small farms growing a small number of a variety of items and sharing them only locally. Of course, this is certainly a profitable way to farm, but it is also a strain on our fossil fuels, and destructive to plant biodiversity. Remember the potato famine? Yeah, that happened because the Irish were depending too much on just one type of food. Since there wasn't a lot of biodiversity, when one disease reached their sole variety of potatoes it cleaned out every crop. Had they grown multiple types of potatoes, or had their fields been smaller and more spread out, the disease may not have had such an enormous impact.
So what can we do to lessen our dependence on oil (to fuel the vehicles that bring our food all the way from California and the machines that run these gigantic farms)? How can we encourage biodiversity? The answer is to eat as much as we can that is grown locally. Previous to 1935 (with a few exceptions like spices, sugar, and coffee), this was what everyone did! And guess what - we can live solely on foods that are grown right here in our home state! Locavores do it, why can't we? Small farms, like most New Hampshire, farms are human (as opposed to machine) run, grow lots of varieties of foods, and don't have far to travel to nourish you. Win, win, win!
Recently, Governer Hassan proclaimed this month to be New Hampshire Eat Local Month! How will Sunflower be celebrating? Today we are hosting a Local Foods Festival. Later in the month we'll be posting a few locavore recipes here on our blog, and we'll also be spreading the good word of New Hampshire-grown food! You can participate by supporting local farms, too. Here at Sunflower we carry more than 100 local vendors including farms, bakeries, dairies, etc. And if you have any questions about eating local - how to find the best food or prepare certain veggies that you may not have heard of - we are here to help!
Health, happiness, and local eats!
* Click chart for source. Post by Julia Marchand.