Here’s HerbDoc with some thoughts on where our food comes from:
I read an interesting quote the other day which made me reflect on what we buy and from whom. The quote said: “Living sustainably isn’t only about what you use, but what you fail to use.”
How many times have you purchased fresh produce at the supermarket only to have it spoil before it can be used? Most produce in the US is picked 4 to 7 days in advance and travels some 1500 miles before it ends up on the market shelves. Distances are of course increased when we buy imports from South America, Mexico, Asia and the like. Did you know that 90% of all produce is the US is shipped by truck and that this contributes to about 1% of all the emissions generated by trucking?
In addition to the poor quality of food and pollution of the air by freight trucking, large agri-businesses use enormous amounts of fertilizers and pesticides to get crops to market. These contribute to the destruction of our soils and water and generate health scares every year such as e-Coli and GMO contamination.
We can all help by buying locally grown food whenever possible. Farmers’ markets have sprouted up all over Rhode Island, and some are now open year round. The nearest farmers’ market to my home is less than a 10 minute drive, and on any given Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM offers fresh vegetables, beef, shellfish, pastries and breads, cornmeal, honey, jam and whatever else is in season. The aroma of johnnycakes hot off the griddle and that fresh bread is irresistible!
When we purchase produce at a large supermarket only 18 cents of every dollar goes to the grower while the other 82 cents goes to various middlemen. Let’s cut out those middlemen, buy our food directly from a local grower, and keep the business and dollars in our own communities!
I was sitting next to RI DEM’s Chief of the Agricultural Division this past Saturday at the MG Strategic Planning session, and he emphasized that FOOD GROWING would be the most critical issue facing RI and beyond in the coming years. He is very eager to have the URI Master Gardeners involved in the efforts to educate and emphasize this issue through our outreach.
I agree, and our projects like Harvests from the Heart and the Good Shepherd are really reaching out to the general public all over the state. It’s great to see that folks are again becoming interested in “growing their own”, and when they can’t they should be encouraged to support our local farmers. Hopefully we’ll also be able to teach others how to preserve and use the foods they grow.
How about encouraging URI to replace the professors which have retired so that the Cooperative Extension Service can actually serve the state? The Master Gardeners cannot do this alone and we need degree professionals training and teaching our students. Love Farm Fresh RI and great article.
I doubt if we will see new professors until the State supports its state university and provides some real funding instead of cutting money at every opportunity. Tuitions keep rising, programs are being cut, and the university is expected to operate on a shoestring. Impossible!
Glad you enjoyed the article though. Like you I can’t resist these wonderful markets, and I hope more consumers will visit and support them!