If you know me, you know what a total nerd I am. To further prove this, I will admit that I’ve been on a huge documentary kick lately. If you were to come into my apartment when I’m sitting on the couch doing some serious cross-stitching (nerdy enough for you yet?), chances are, you’d also catch me intently watching a documentary.
About 2 weeks ago, I watched a particularly fascinating documentary called “Food, Inc.” If you’re anything like me, you watch something and think, “Hmm. Interesting.” and then move on to the next documentary. This is definitely NOT the case with Food, Inc.
This is about to get really real.
Y’all. I have been marinating on this documentary since watching it. I can’t stop thinking about it. No joke. It has legitimately caused me to change my entire way of thinking about the food we eat.
While it does touch on cruelty to animals in the corporate farming industry, it mostly focuses on the corrupt practices of this industry. Basically – nothing too gory that will make you cringe, but things that will make you sad and make you want to change how you eat. It’s amazing to me that the FDA was put in place to protect us and has evolved into a money-making entity that basically dictates how and what we eat. It’s horrible.
To give you an example: Tyson chicken.
Chickens used to be given free range of fields and given a coop. The coop was somewhere they could find shelter from cold and somewhere safe and warm to lay eggs. They weren’t confined to this space.
Enter Tyson. They came in and were all like, “Hey, chicken farmers! We’re going to make you a Tyson chicken farm now. You basically have no say in this because if you don’t do this, you won’t make any money and you’ll lose your farm. So you have to do everything we say.”
Now, chickens are (literally) thrown into a coop that is so overcrowded that the chickens cannot move about. They get no natural sunlight. They are fed steroids and antibiotics. The steroids cause the chickens to grow much larger in a much shorter amount of time, which provides more chicken to the consumer and helps Tyson make more money.
Here’s the problem. The size of chickens has QUADRUPLED in the last 60 years. No joke. American consumers prefer white meat, so the breasts of the chickens are enlarged. Their organs cannot keep up with this growth rate and most chickens are only able to take a few steps before falling down due to the weight in their chest.
I won’t even get into how Tyson treats the chicken farmers. Watch the documentary. See for yourself.
That name makes me simultaneously cringe and get hot with anger. I won’t go into depth on farmers and Monsanto because at this point, I feel like I could quite literally write a book. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Again – watch the documentary. It is ridiculously eye-opening.
Summary: buy from local farmers, y’all. It’s their livelihood. Don’t let bullies like Monsanto dictate what you eat and who you buy it from.
Okay, so the good news.
YOU CAN CHANGE THIS. Seriously! Vote with your dollars. That’s what Andrew and I have started doing.
There are SO MANY options available to help support local agriculture! Here are a few of my favorites:
I order a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box each week (I get the small size for 2 of us) and I get to pick what organic, farmer-grown fruits and vegetables I want! It’s a great value and I also know that I’m helping support farmers. Some of the produce may not be local (last week, I got apples from Washington and oranges from Florida), but I do know that they are still coming from ethical farmers who are trying to earn a living selling fresh, organic produce.
I order the CSA box through Nature’s Garden Express. If you sign up using promo code 4762a, you can get $10 off your first box!
You get the option to have this delivered to your home or you can choose to have it delivered to your local co-op. I pick my box up from the Suwanee Whole Life Co-Op. I get a discounted rate on my CSA box by doing this and I’m also helping the co-op. Plus, I get the option to order items from local farmers to pick up with my box – items like raw milk, fresh, free-range, grass-fed meat, local honey, bread, cheese, etc. I get to pick up my box today and I also ordered raw Jersey cow milk, raw goat’s milk, and beef bones to make broth (recipe here).
Here’s a picture of the contents from our most recent CSA box (and our raw milk makes a cameo in the background). This was from the “small” box!
2. Eat Wild
You can find farmers and ranchers who sell organic, free-range, grass-fed meats at Eat Wild.
Andrew and I are going to visit a local farm one weekend so we can lay eyes on it, meet the farmers, and see what all goes on. I am ridiculously excited, and I need you to not judge me right now, please.
3. Local farmers markets
Y’all – in the spring and summer, local farmers markets abound – and no, I’m not talking about giant buildings that call themselves farmers markets but offer produce from around the world. I’m talking about an open-air market where local farmers bring produce that they just picked from their own gardens. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE. I’m trying to only eat fruits and vegetables that are really in season. This helps me switch things up a bit and support my local farmers at the same time. A great resource to help you find a farmers market is Local Harvest.
I’ve started buying eggs from a gentleman I work with. His 7 year-old son received some money for Christmas. Instead of buying a toy, he chose to invest that money and buy chickens. He is selling the eggs on a weekly delivery basis. What a smart kid (looking at you, Asher)! The chickens get to roam around and do as they please, so they’re happy chickens – which makes me happy. And the eggs – holy guacamole, y’all. THE EGGS ARE AMAZING. They taste SO different than the eggs from the grocery store – which makes sense since the chickens laying those eggs are fed antibiotics and steroids. Ahem. And he only charges $5 for a dozen!
So, I realize that some of you are thinking, “$5 for a dozen eggs when I could pay $1.99 at Kroger? You’ve got to be kidding me!” My guess is that those of you saying that are the same people that will drop $5 on ONE DRINK at Starbucks without thinking twice about it. $5 is more than worth it for a dozen fresh eggs.
Bonus – if you buy eggs from a farmer and they don’t wash them, you don’t have to refrigerate them! Go read this article – it was definitely news to me.
This is definitely a drastic measure that we’re taking, but I feel so strongly about it that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, it’s a bit more expensive than buying produce at Kroger, but we’ve budgeted for it because it’s important to us. Can you even imagine if everyone began to do this?? Big corporations would have to start selling all organic produce because they provide what consumers demand. Some day…
Do you have any tips for eating locally? I’d love to hear them!