Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Sustainable Spring

After writing an article for Recipe4Living on Sustainable Eating last week, I have been thinking a lot about this topic of sustainability. Sustainable eating supports sustainable agriculture, which helps the environment and improves the food supply for the entire planet. Rather than big, mechanized farming operations, sustainable agriculture is based on the smaller, local farm which is more environmentally-conscious. These smaller farms raise livestock in a more natural state, rotate crops to keep the soil nutrient-rich, and greatly cut down on petroleum usage and carbon emissions.

More than the organic food movement, sustainable eating is an issue that really resonates with me. My first home in Indiana boasted 28 acres, and my second, 5 acres, as my parents moved closer to Indianapolis for a better school district. Even my second home, where I spent the majority of my childhood, was completely surrounded by cornfields. My best friend and I would cut through the cornfields to see each other, often unknowingly passing each other on the way. In August and September, we reaped the rewards of corn plucked right off the stalk. Corn on the cob is still one of my favorite foods, but it's hard to find any that taste half as good as that did. Sadly, as I entered high school and went off to college, that cornfield was replaced by a subdivision of people who do not mind being able to reach out and touch the house next door from their open windows. In my now no-longer-small town and all over Indiana, small farms who cannot compete with the handful of mega-farms are being replaced by treeless, crowded subdivisions.

Something seems to be amiss in the dominant agricultural mode in America and the ways its people are eating, so reliant on mass-produced and heavily "preserved" food. Many scientific studies are exploring how the hormonal treatment of livestock, for example to make chickens mature more quickly, may be affecting people. Moreover, when people taste truly fresh produce, eggs, milk, and more naturally-raised meat, the difference is often staggering. In my mind, people should be demanding not only the preservation of our fragile environment, but the best-tasting food. If we do a little more to support smaller, local farmers, it's a step in the right direction. Visit or to find farmer's markets and other sources of sustainable agriculture in your area. And try your hand at a couple of these recipes with foods that are in season for spring:

Citrus-Asparagus Saute

Fit As A Fennel Tomato Salad

Rhubarb Crunch

Balsamic Strawberries

And here ends my rant. Happy coming of Spring!


Alicemarie L. Swift said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly! I grew up with a "garden" and the produce in the stores today is a pale imitation of real produce. I buy from local farmers whenever I can, but I often can't get out to the markets or stands, because I am disabled and don't drive. My caregiver and I often pool our money and she goes out and buys the produce, and we split the take. :) This is in central CA, where agribusiness is the rule more often than not.