Evolving Peace

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Market of Farmers, For Health

In my more recent history, I have succumbed to a fondness of obtaining fresh produce at the local farmers market. What is surprising to me is that it has only become a newer resolve into my shopping habits for basic provisions. For years I had not visited farmers markets for multiple reasons. But as my new found awakening has arrived I realize the great importance of the local farmers market to the community.

First off, as a youth I was raised with parents who extensively gardened throughout the summer season. Their affinity to gardening was not for a desire to grow fresh nutritious produce but as a weapon of economic frugality. A summer diet for me consisted of every recipe under the sun that included broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, peppers and yellow squash. Of course as a kid, I blew that off in disgust and wanted a juicy hamburger instead. Now, in my latter years, I wish I could pick up that genetic propensity to garden however I do not have a green thumb for I have even killed a chi-a-pet in my past. So, with my quest for more natural foods, the farmers market has been a great supplement to my dietary needs.

Here in Montpelier, the farmers market has been running strong for thirty years. Quite impressive for this country since we have virtually replaced a strong rooted agrarian culture with the modern day processed food industry. (The above picture is from the Halifax, Nova Scotia’s farmer market, the oldest farmers market in North America.) The majority of foods produced in the American diet are concoctions of either the highly subsidized corn or soy industry. Cheap foods have flourished with the excess production of corn. One look at food ingredients will show most times that high-fructose corn syrup or some other corn derivative is the number one ingredient. Some claim that this shows the great ingenuity of America, however if it were not for the 3 billion dollar subsidy to corn production we would not have access to that much corn. What that means is that without cheap subsidies Americans would not be able to get cheap Coca-Cola or cheap Chicken McNuggets.

American’s are waking up today and realizing that America’s food supply is faulty. We are either inundated with poly-saturated fats or corn sugars that are linked to diabetes and other food related health problems. Even worse, it seems like at least once a week were are informed of another product recall, whether it be Skippy Peanut Butter, Spinach from a factory farm or the health food Veggie Booty. The American food system is not safe and the return to small local farmers markets is the best opportunity to correct that. As a consumer, I like to know the farmer and where the produce was grow. For the farmers, they are given an opportunity to sell the products directly to consumers without being side-swiped by a commodity driven market and therefore given a fair price for their labor.

I just returned from the farmers markets and I am thrilled to know that the fresh produce I bought will help sustain the multiple farms within my community. My purchase instead of enriching the executive of the Shaw’s supermarket or the ledger sheet of Archer Daniels Midland(ADM) is helping maintain the economic viability of the surrounding landscape while at same time enhancing my quality of life. Eat healthy and support your local farmers.

Robb Kidd

“The fight to save family farms isn't just about farmers. It's about making sure that there is a safe and healthy food supply for all of us. It's about jobs, from Main Street to Wall Street. It's about a better America.” Willie Nelson


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