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  • Sustainability – local and social

    Continuing with the interweaving nodes of ecology, local, social, health, humane, and taste.

     

    Nothing highlights the interconnection of local and global quite like the issue of energy. Our American way of life, so dependent on oil, plays its part in the destruction and destabilization rampant in other places in the world. If we don’t own up to our complicity in the violence found in areas such as the Middle East, we cannot truly help to find a solution. It’s one thing to insist it is morally wrong to invade a country for control of its oil, but if our way of life continues as is, foreign policy has little choice but to try and provide for our energy ‘needs’.

    Local food is the simplest and most straight forward way I know of to ensure a drastic cut of energy consumption. To cut out the middle man as well as the transportation to a packaging facility and then on to a distribution center, saves both money and energy. And when the money paid for food actually goes to the farmer, there is more of a chance she or he will remain as a caretaker of the land. According to the National Farmers Union, farmers receive around 16 cents per food dollar spent by consumers. Not only does this make farming financially unfeasible, but it demonstrates what is valued in our culture. The marketing, processing, and distribution get the lion’s share, while the actual food being produced is almost an afterthought.

    Socially, you cannot maintain a community, let alone a living, when your work is not valued. And farming needs community to survive. And I’m not just referring to customers to buy the products. Local farming needs the local infrastructure to help for the inputs it cannot provide from its own land. Whether it is a mill to buy and mix grain, or farmer markets to sell vegetables, or abattoirs to handle the livestock for selling at market, farms are heavily dependent on the community around them. The farms and these infrastructures were at the heart of any vibrant rural community. The annihilation of this social structure has left rural communities impoverished of both wealth and meaning. To buy locally is one way to supersaturate the solution that I referred to in my earlier post, giving the local systems a chance to grow and eventually provide for a demand. I like the idea that we could eat our way back to social health.