My research has been focused on small farms and their animals and why eating better foods and supporting farms are so crucial. My research question is why should we support local farms and eat better? I have been volunteering on a small rural farm that believes in wonderful treatment of the animals and using all natural care, using no pesticides, and using word of mouth within the community to sell their produce. I have chosen to start a blog about why we should consider supporting local farmers and their families and why it’s better not only for our health but for our environment as well.
Culminating Project Part I: Research Collection
DeWeerdt, Sarah. “Is Local Food Better?” WorldWatch Institute. WorldWatch, 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. DeWeerdt did a fantastic article about eating local foods and I found it to be very insightful and useful to my own research. One thing she states in her article for WorldWatch was; “In the United States, the most frequently cited statistic is that food travels 1,500 miles on average from farm to consumer.” This shocked me when I read it, traveling that far before it gets to my table is just not acceptable and quite worrisome. The thought of it bouncing around in a box being squashed traveling half was across the country horrified me, especially when there are plenty of local farms nearby where things could get to my table in a much safer way. DeWeerdt states also “In light of such contrasts, the admonition to “eat local” just seems like common sense.” Which is what I have been thinking about when researching and writing my blog- it just makes sense to eat local.
Watson, Molly. “Why Should I Buy and Eat Local Foods?” About.com Local Foods. N.p., 2013. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://localfoods.about.com/od/finduselocalfoods/tp/5-Reasons-to-Eat-Local-Foods.htm>. To put it simply, “Eating local foods is better for you, for the environment, and (most importantly) for your taste buds.” At the very basic of reasons why eating locally is a good option is the simple fact that it does taste better and is better for our environment. I found this article to be very useful in relaying simple and to the point reasons listed out as to why we should choose to eat locally and support local farms and why that is so important. This article listed eight reasons why, such as: “local foods are fresher, local foods are seasonal, local foods usually have less environmental impact, local foods preserve green space and farmland, local foods promote safety, local foods promote variety, local foods support your local economy, local foods create community.”
“Ethical Farms.org, Promoting Cruelty Free Farming.” Ethical Farms.org, Promoting Cruelty Free Farming. N.p., 2010. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. <http://www.ethicalfarms.org/>. I found this article to be extremely useful and also enlightening as it covers what laws are and why it is so crucial that animals are treated well on farms and how on larger industrial farms how they were treated. On smaller family-run farms research has shown that animals are treated well. “These smaller, family style farms promote humane alternatives to animal abuse, and we hope that some day, ethical farms will replace our current factory farms. We can all work together to take steps to end animal cruelty.” Many large US farms do not adhere to laws already in place and animals suffer inhumane and unimaginable pain and torture, people need to be aware of this and make the choice to not support industrial farms who mistreat animals. “Through growing public awareness, believe that we represent a civilized nation who does not condone mass factory farm abuse. We know that animals have highly developed feelings and are sensitive to pain.” The more aware we are of how animals treated then we can speak out more and stand up to saying no to buying food from these large industrial places and eating locally and supporting our farming families.
Schnell, Steven M. “Food with a Farmer’s Face: Community-Supported Agriculture in the United States.” Geographical Review. 97.4 (2007): 550-564. Print. Schnell’s article about farming and its pending changes of people looking to shop closer to home and their food not traveling cross-country, says “As the United States becomes increasingly urbanized and suburbanized, people have, understandably, become more disconnected from the distant land and people that stock their supermarkets. But this is starting to change.” While yes we are a fast paced country and most of us demanding instant gratification, there is awareness happening more and more about eating locally and supporting farms and even supporting farms that abide by cruelty free laws and treat their animals well. The term CSA is described at length in this article, which is short for Community Supported Agriculture, basically a coop of families and farmers where every week they receive a portion of the harvest and ensure having healthy and natural foods on their table, while also supporting local farms and taking care of the environment. “The idea of community-supported agriculture was born in Japan in the mid-1960s. A group of women, dissatisfied with imported, processed, and pesticide-laden food, made arrangements directly with farmers to provide natural, organic, local food for their tables. Literally translated, the Japanese word for the arrangement, teikei, means “partnership” or “cooperation.” However, the more colorful translation usually given by Japanese participants is this: “food with the farmer’s face on it” I love the idea of a group of strong-minded women showing up at farms and trying to formulate a plan that would benefit them both greatly- this is the true meaning of community.
Trobe, Helen L. “Farmers’ Markets: Consuming Local Rural Produce.” International Journal of Consumer Studies. 25.3 (2001): 181-192. Print. This article was helpful in regards to solidifying what I have learned with other research about reasons of eating locally. “For consumers, direct marketing initiatives are providing people with locally grown, fresh, healthy and, in many cases, organic food at affordable prices. Through buying locally grown produce, consumers are giving their support to local producers as well as helping to revitalize rural economies.” Having our food come directly from the farm and going directly to our table with no middle man is a very important way to support local farmers, ensure healthy food, and better our environment.
Bond, Annie B. “Top 10 Eco-Friendly Reasons to Buy Organic Meat & Dairy.” Care2. N.p., 2013. Web. 27 Nov. 2013. <http://www.care2.com/greenliving/why-buy-organic-dairy-meat.html>. This article has been around for a couple years now and was recently re-published, but it is a good one. Bond is definitely an expert in her field of green living and I love how she breaks down why eating locally and supporting local farms is so crucial- and she incorporates the treatment of the animals nicely. This has been one of my favorite articles to read over and over, even the comments people have left were insightful. She lists the top ten reasons why we should be cautious about what types of dairy and meat products we buy, and she gives clear-cut examples and insight into why. This statement from her sums it all up so nicely; “Choosing to support farms that caretake the environment and the animals they raise in an ethical manner, is a very positive way to spend your food dollar. Animal agriculture produces surprisingly large amounts of air and water pollution, and causes 80 percent of the world’s annual deforestation. It also requires large amounts of water, and livestock worldwide consumes half the world’s total grain harvest. By supporting local, sustainable and organic farms in your local community you also support the larger community of which we are all a part. By eating animal products raised on such farms you provide the healthiest choice for your family and support the farms that support healthy and ecological neighborhoods.”
“How Factory Farms Impact You.” Factory Farm Map. Food & Water Watch, 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://www.factoryfarmmap.org/problems/>. This lengthy article from Food & Water Watch was pretty shocking. This site gave a list of the ways that we are being impacted by factory farms and what it is doing to our bodies and our environment. Also, they speak on animals’ cruelty and how the animals are treated- which was horrifying. One aspect that this article covered which I don’t believe I have seen yet, is the false advertising that goes into this as well: think about how many food packages show a happy cow grazing in the meadow…. How accurate is this? What would happen if they showed cows jammed into pens so tight that they cannot move more than a few feet their whole life? What if they showed baby chicks crammed into metal pens with their little beaks cut off so they don’t peck each other due to such close quarters? How many people would jump at the chance to buy those products if advertising were done truthfully? “These unhealthy conditions and additives not only pose threats to the environment and public health, they are also detrimental to the animals themselves. Most factory-farmed hogs and chickens have no access to the outdoors and never see daylight. Beef cattle and dairy cows spend time outside, but they are crammed onto feedlots with no access to pasture or grass, which is what they are built to eat. The lack of outdoor access, inability to express natural behaviors, health problems and stress caused by production practices, and breeding designed to maximize weight gain or egg and milk production take a toll on animal welfare.”
Culminating Project Part II: The Public Writing
For my public writing and call to action portion of this project, I have started a blog entitled “Save Old McDonald.” I had considered writing a letter but my voice may get lost in a sea of a million other letters and who do I need my voice heard by- I need the average citizen who is concerned about their bodies and the treatment of animals to listen, not a politician who will probably not even read my letter. My blog’s purpose is to inform the “average Joe” about the reasons of why eating healthy, local, and how their animals are treated is so crucial. I intend to keep the blog simple and to the point, and to allow the viewers to get clear-cut information very simply-put. I want to share why this topic is close to my heart and to share very basic reasons as to why this is important. Here is a link to my blog: http://kimberdion.wix.com/oldmcdonaldhadafarm
I had so many significant learning experiences during my research and this term. First off, I chose the theme of animals and farming because that was the only topic I had no interest in (so I thought). All the other topics listed I had a great deal of thought about, but not this theme, which is why I chose it. I wanted the challenge of getting outside my comfort zone and learning about a new topic. While doing my research I became very concerned with the welfare of the animals on the farms and also what has happened to the small farms in our communities as larger farms and industrial farms scoop up the market. My research topic opened up to why we should eat healthy, eat locally and support local farms and why we should choose to not support large-chain industrial farms that abuse and harm animals, use chemicals, and is putting the small local farmer out of business. I really enjoyed learning so much about how important it is to eat healthy, I had no idea how extensive the amount of chemicals and GMO’s was in our daily food, I also had no idea that most food travels 1,500 miles before getting to our tables…. I found that shocking! I have so much more respect for the local farmer who is working long hours to bring us healthy options and help protect our environment.
I also have found that with having more knowledge as to why we should make these changes, I am passing them onto my children and they are more aware of where our food comes from and whether or not we are eating the right things. I recently made a chicken in a crockpot with my daughter, and when we served it my youngest son asked if the chicken was able to walk around or if he was stuck in a cage. I was so proud.
Learning more about what we need to survive and how to better protect our environment seems like something everyone should be involved in and concerned about. For someone to turn a blind eye or not be concerned with the very basics of eating well is something we cannot make excuses about any longer- we need to start at home and teach our children about healthy eating and ways to help protect our environment, and we also need to have healthier options in schools or parents need to take the initiative to make their children’s lunches so they have healthy options. The more we talk about it the more it gets shared and spread around. We also can talk with them about treating animals well and how they live on a farm is important to how they come to our table.
Overall, I feel very informed and prepared to eat right, eat locally and to help sustain our environment and I know that even if my family just makes a little difference- it is still a difference we are making, and it’s a decision we can be very proud of.