by Kevin O’Donnell
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”
Our nation was built on an agrarian economy, self- reliance and hard work. Not until the Industrial Revolution did we see a major shift in agriculture and some might argue not for the better! For some of us who are in the food business it’s more about the roots of why we do what we do and maintaining traditions that bring the local community together.
Fresh, local and safe
Locally produced food is the freshest it can be! Often picked within an hour of delivery to our local coops and natural food stores. While some complain about the price/value of the locally produced food, I choose to look at it from a different angle. Recent spikes in food recalls suggests there is some value in knowing your food is safe to consume. While small producers don’t have the economy of scale some big corporate farms do, they do more often going the extra mile to do the right thing because we are all neighbors.
Knowing where your food comes from (local sign insert)
Walking into a grocery store and seeing a sign with the local farm producer listed on it for the product is very reassuring! This always gives me a great sense of security and compassion about where I live and I’m grateful for that.
Knowing your neighbors
In my town we have a great Saturday morning farmers market. It is one of the best social events of the week throughout the summer, fall and winter. It represents a warm sense of community to see the wide diversity of our community members and tourists interacting with all the local farmers. It’s not merely an economic engagement it’s about community and knowing your neighbors.
Stewardship of the land
Agriculture keeps the landscape productive and open allowing for open beautiful views and vistas. It sustains a variety of wildlife. With proper crop rotation, organic fertilizing techniques it becomes sustainable for future generations. And with new technology allows for a host of value- added products such as cheese making. While maple syrup production is the end result of good forestry practices and supports wildlife habitat. Meanwhile, sustainable forests provide materials for building and paper industries. And help our communities grow.
I’m proud of the state I live in. Vermont has a agriculture based economy, it’s not without it challenges but I would rather dwell on the positives and be grateful for the bounty we have to share with our community. Coincidently, Vermont is the only state capitol in the entire United States without a McDonald’s. There is something to be said for that! My local coop has over 500 local vendors and producers and does over seven million dollars in sales of local organic products.
Yes it is (usually) more expensive to shop at the co-op, knowing your food is clean and with every dollar spent there it is multiplied six times for the benefit of our community. Support my local community is a choice, one I’m willing to support.
It is an important reminder everyday I drive by our State House and see the Roman goddess of agriculture who adorns the top of a golden dome and signifies our values and support of agriculture and reminds us that our present was built on the past and community is strongly rooted in that history and for that I’m eternally grateful!