Putting dinner on the table is easier than it’s ever been. You can remove a wrapper and nuke a plastic carton in the microwave, hop in your car and have a bag handed to you or simply open an app and with a knock at the door, dinner is served. In previous eras, this wasn’t the case. Folks then had to be intimately aware of their surroundings and physically involved in planting and harvesting to place food on the table. And it wasn’t easy.
Former United States Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, recently remarked that 98 percent of Americans are several generations removed from direct farming, and are a part of the “Ag Removed Generation”. For those growing up in urban areas, they’re often less exposed to the necessity and importance of food systems. This can often manifest into naivety of understanding where or how local food is made.
Convenience has evolved into a state of ecological disconnection as each new generation is further removed from their food source.
I can appreciate this dilemma. Although I grew up on a farm and spent countless afternoons snapping beans and shucking corn, after college I became removed from the rhythms of nature when I lived from city to city. Now with a family of my own, I have a renewed reverence for my dad’s 50 years of growing experience and ability to live off the land. Through education and practical tips on horticulture practices, I hope to help bridge the ecological gap and help the 2% grow.
And there’s no better way to get reconnected with your local food source, then to experience it first-hand. We recommend getting your hands dirty by:
Spending time on a farm. Many farms now have work-days, internships or work-share opportunities. Reach out to your farmer or favorite farm and ask about labor opportunities. Ask questions. Show up assuming you know nothing, observe and prepare to work like you’ve never worked a day in your life. This attitude will make your experience worthwhile.
Involving your family in gardening. This can be as simple as reaching out to your community or school garden on ways to get involved, planting a few indoor herbs or planting your own backyard garden. Something as easy as a plastic solarium is a great exercise for involving your kids as well. There’s opportunities everywhere, just pick something that you feel you and your family can stick to.
Putting your Netflix account to good use. Watch or read materials that is incongruent with your current thinking. If your diet consists of red meat and processed foods, watch Forks over Knives. If you’re a die-hard global warming advocate, read Glen Beck. Get out of your comfort zone and it’ll do your mind good.
At the end of a long, hard-working day, sometimes getting dinner on the table is the last thing you want to think about. And I get that. But by being more conscientious of how and where you’re food is coming from, our hope is that it will inspire new and better food choices.
How are you staying connected with your food source? Do you feel you’re part of the 98% or 2%? We’d love to hear from you!