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12 March . 2010

Getting foods from closer to home: Why it’s so good for you (and everyone)

Today’s blog post is from one of our community partners, Tami Schwerin, who is the executive director of The Abundance Foundation.  Before joining Abundance, Tami was the president of the board of Chatham Marketplace, Pittsboro's amazing coop grocery store. She lives in Moncure with her two children, her two dogs and her husband, Lyle Estill.

There is a lot of talk these days about local food as an important part of healthy living.  What is the big deal   Why should we care   Well, I would argue, it is the biggest deal and one of the most important things you can do for the health and wellness of yourself, your family and this planet. 

Remember when you were little and your mother or your teacher would say “You are what you eat!”  They were right.  Think about it…would you rather be dipotassium phosphate, or tetrasodium pyrophosphate polysorbate 60   Or would you rather live a long life as fresh, just picked greens that were grown on herbicide and pesticide free soil, with water and sunshine  

Yes, it takes a mind, body and soul effort because fresh foods take longer to procure and prepare, and it takes more thought and skill than going to the grocery store and buying all those processed foods. And that time you give up saves you from diabetes, cancer, obesity, skin problems, water, air and soil pollution among other things.  Maybe if we marketed the farmer’s market local foods with budgets like they have for Nestle or Kraft, our world would be a different place.  We’d not have an epidemic of childhood obesity and cancer and all of the other ailments of our current world. 

We’ve lost the art of cooking.  When I was growing up, my grandfather would bring home bushels of vegetables from his farm in his old Buick and my grandmother would go to work shelling peas, cooking tomatoes and making homemade biscuits.  We just took this for granted.  Quite the opposite, the next generation embraced  a culture of convenience.  Microwaves were the coolest invention saving us from hovering over the stove all day.  And we lost our way.  We lost nutrition, and we lost our connectedness to the farm and the earth.  Being a farmer was not chic…becoming a stock broker or a banker was more favorable. 

Everything comes full circle.  We now realize the mistakes made with Big Food.  It’s time to put our attention back on the small family farms, the local farmers’ market, the CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) and our own gardens.  It’s time to learn how to cook what is in season and what is going to be nutritious for our families.  The good news is that there is a local food movement happening.

 The Abundance Foundation’s mission is:  building our local food shed, modeling renewable energy and inspiring community.  We are taking a grassroots approach by providing workshops on topics such as seed saving, bread making, sweet potato tastings and cooking classes, mushroom inoculation as well as energy related workshops.  We also offer tours to children’s groups and adults.  . 

And we are not the only ones!  Crop Mob is a recent phenomenon started right here in Chatham County and they are popping up all over the nation.  A New York Times article explains that young “farmless farmers” anxious to get their hands in the dirt are mobbing farms and helping them complete a huge task in one day. 

Carolina Farm Stewardship in Pittsboro is working on helping farmers across North Carolina and South Carolina through policy, seed saving, farmland preservation and more.  The Center for Environmental Farming Systems  has been working on a statewide initiative to increase our local food economy by 10 percent. 

Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) also in Pittsboro,  cultivates markets, policies and communities that support thriving, socially just and environmentally sound family farms. Local Farmers’ Markets are popping up across the country, and we are fortunate that in Chatham County, the number of small organic farms is  increasing. 

All of these things are helping to make strides in improving family wellness, but it will take personal responsibility to educate ourselves and make real change.  And it will be worth it!

What will you do to improve your personal or family wellness


 *The thoughts and opinions of guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Newland Communities or Briar Chapel.

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