Thursday, October 28, 2010

~ Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From? ~

This post was written for Fertile Imagination @ where I have monthly column. Feel free to visit me over there, too!

One of the huge advantages of raising your own vegetables and/or meat is that you know exactly how the vegetable or animal was fed and raised. It saddens me that family farming has gone by the wayside in this country and big agribusiness has taken over. People, especially children, are losing out on a tremendous learning experience by only getting food at the grocery store. I am sad to say that there was a small window of time that my children thought things came from the grocery store. I assumed that they would know where things came from because after all, I grew up on a farm and I knew things didn’t come from a grocery store. What a silly mommy I was. We need to intentionally teach our children were our food comes from and what it is that we are actually eating and how that food effects our bodies.

When we look at the high cost of medical insurance and care, rise in obesity, and the childhood diabetes epidemic, we really need to make changes and fast. I do not want to start a debate, but the formula that was recently recalled is 56.3% sugar. Why? Because it is cheap to produce and has a high profit margin and people believe that it is healthy. After all, it is regulated by the government, right? All the more reason for promoting breastfeeding as the normal way to feed a child, more support for mothers who are struggling and the demand we must make for affordable donor milk from milk banks and more private milk share programs.

We sent our meat chickens to be butchered last week. The kids went with when my husband dropped them off at the local farm that butchers for us. I have gotten some funny looks when I tell people that. I think they assume that it is traumatic for our children, that their “pets” are being sent off to slaughter and the opening scene of Charlotte’s Web races through their mind. Charlotte running through the barn yard to save the runt of the litter. My children understand that some of the animals we get are for pets and we name them and some are for eating. We take very good care of our animals, raising and feeding them as close as we can the way nature intended. Our chickens are free ranged in our fields, free to run and eat bugs. Our cow and calf are pastured, not confined CAFO style, being force-fed GMO corn and soy beans, feed stuffs that were never meant to be ingested by cows, that breed the deadly O157:H7 e.coli. Our veggies are never sprayed or fertilized. True, we may get smaller yields some years depending on the weather, but oh the taste. Heirloom vegetables are so good and if we are not careful are going to become a thing of the past.

This year I ordered all heirloom vegetable. Things like Green Apple Eggplants (which the ducks ate), Blue Hubbard Squash and Strawberry Popcorn. The funnest of all this year was the pole beans. If you only plant one thing next year (or whenever your growing season starts) make it a pole bean. We planted Scarlett Runners, Hidatsa Field Beans, and Rattlesnake Pole Beans. They have gorgeous flowers, climb to about 10 feet and had tons of beans. Lots of bang for your buck and something that most people have never seen before. It is important to us that these oldies but goodies, stay around.

Teaching our children the importance of native plants and what happens when we transport things long distances or introduce an invasive species that have no natural predators. Take your children to your local farmers market to meet the farmers and ask question about how things are grown. I can guarantee that they will love the questions. Ask if you can visit the farm and help for an afternoon. Farmers love help, if anyone wants to come help me, I will welcome you with open arms. These are invaluable ways to teach your kids were their food comes from and just how important your local farmers are.

You will also never have to worry about food recalls when you know were your food comes from or about eating GMOs. A GMO is a Genetically Modified Organism. Like mixing genes from a fish and genes from a tomato so that it is more cold hardy. I have two huge problems with this. One, don’t mess with nature. If you give her a nudge, she will knock you into the next universe. Two, my child has food allergies. GMOs do not have to be labeled. So what happens when a child who is allergic to fish eats a tomato with fish genes and has an anaphylactic reaction. Or my daughter, who is allergic to corn eats a GMO papaya, that has corn genes in it and her throat swells shut. GMO corn and soy beans are in every boxed product on the market today that is not specifically label non-GMO. Lab animals who were NOT part of an experiment, had their everyday feed switch to GMO soy because it was cheaper. The lab saw a 50% increase in infant mortality rates. Of those offspring that survived, half were infertile. Within three generations, all animals that had been fed GMO soy were infertile. GMO seeds have a “kill gene”, one that does not allow the seed to germinate and produce a crop for next year. No more seed saving making us dependant on the seed companies for food thus relying on them to stay alive. The US population has been eating genetically modified organism since the 1990′s. No one has ever studied the “kill gene” and the effect that it may have on the human population. With the rise in fertility treatments in the last twenty years, I would say that they are having a negative effect on our human population. Without sounding all conspiracy theorist, there are people in this world that believe the human race has had a good run and now we need to die out and leave the earth alone to repair herself. No kidding. I don’t believe this, but I do believe that population control through GMOs and vaccines is occurring. This is why education and planting of Heirloom plants is so important. It starts with our kids. I really truly believe that most of the time kids are smarter that adults. They have more common sense, more compassion and empathy, and more conviction of what is right and what is wrong. So next year, find some place to plant some heirlooms.

One thing that I really like to do is organize a small group, especially if you have limited space, to purchase seeds together. I love ordering from,, or check out
”Since 1975, Seed Savers Exchange members have passed on approximately one million samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners. We are a non-profit organization of gardeners dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds.”

Make some simple container gardens (be creative, almost anything can grow plants) and watch your children’s eyes light up as the plants grow, produce fruit and then savor the goodness of home grown veggies!

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