Monday, August 30, 2010
Why Visit Your Local Farmer's Market?
Well, I'll tell you.
Buying locally is the very tail end of the product cycle that started with a tiny seed. A seed that, thanks to big companies like Monsanto*, have been genetically modified and patented. Who knew anyone could get the genetic rights to a plant? I thought only God created living things, but I'm wrong. Plants grown by Monsanto are altered (for the point of this post, although there are other modifications) to terminate after bearing fruit. The plant no longer goes through the entire life cycle taught in 9th grade biology. It won't produce seeds. If by some chance it does, the seeds won't produce anything. These are called terminator seeds. (tee hee. Click here for the real link) (if you link over, just know that it is already happening. I have a friend whose family owns a small organic farm in Star Valley. They have already been contacted by Monsanto and told they need to no longer harvest their own seeds. And it's not worth the fight for them because they can't afford the court fees So, they have to buy their seeds each year or get a hold of heirloom seeds and produce those). Pretty bold to scientifically alter the very nature of life given by God. But it's all about being able to market something. If you sell something to a farmer and he can keep growing it without you, where's the profit? **
Anyway, when you shop from farmer's markets it is likely that you are buying not only from people who need your support financially, but their plants are heirloom plants. That means they haven't been altered. Their seeds have come from previous plants and have been grown and passed down from generations.
Another reason to buy from local farmers is because of the cost in transportation, or if you care about being green, the carbon impact. Think about how much gasoline it takes to transport that apple from New Zealand, half-way around the world for $1.59/lb. vs. the apple grown even a state away for $1.99. It makes the actual cost of your fruit a lot higher even if you think you're paying less. And less of that money goes back to the actual laborer.
Then, there is the fact that the fruits and vegetables are in season when purchased locally. None of the pink-ish, tasteless tomatoes or squishy grapes. I know first-hand just how different a peach tastes within hours of right off the tree vs. Wal-mart. Did you know that when you buy apples from Wal-mart you are most likely buying an apple that was grown at LEAST over a year ago? Apples are frozen, stored and then thawed. If you are getting any fruit/vegetable in any season other than the one it naturally grows, it had to come from somewhere other than where you live, or been unnaturally preserved to get to you.
Check this out for more information on why to buy from farmer's markets, or visit these links to find one near you!
We'll chat later on why GMO foods are so bad for you.
*To quote directly from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:
"'The Strange Case of Percy Schmeiser'
In 1999, a quiet middle-aged farmer from Bruno, Saskatchewan, was sued by the largest biotech seed producer in the world. Monsanto, Inc. claimed that Percy Schmeiser had damaged them, to the tune of $145,000, by having their patented gene in some of the canola plants on his 1,030 acres. The assertion was not that Percy had actually planted the seed, or even that he obtained the seed illegally. Rather, the argument was that the plants on Percy's land contained genes belonging to Monsanto. The gene, patented in Canada in the early 1990s, gives genetically modified (GM) canola plants the fortitude to withstand spraying by glyphosate herbicides such as Roundup, sold by Monsanto.
Canola, a cultivated variety of rapeseed, is one of over three thousand species in the mustard family. Pollen from mustard is transferred either by insects, or by wind, up to one-third of a mile. Does the patented gene travel in the pollen? Yes. Are the seeds viable? Yes, and can remain dormant up to ten years. If seeds remain in the soil from previous years, it's illegal to harvest them. Further, if any of the seeds from a field contain the patented genes, it is illegal to save them for use. Percy had been saving his seeds for fifty years. Monsanto was suing for possession for intellectual property that had drifted onto his plants. The laws protect possession of the gene itself, irrespective of its conveyance. Because of pollen drift and seed contamination, the Monsanto genes are ubiquitous in Canadian canola.
Percy lost his court battles: he was found guilty in the Federal Court of Canada, the conviction upheld in the court of appeals. The Canadian Supreme Court narrowly upheld the decision (5-4). but with no compensation to Monsanto. This stunning case has drawn substantial attention to the problems associated with letting GM genies out of their bottle. Organic canola farmers in Saskatchewan have now sued Monsanto and another company, Aventis, for making it impossible for Canadian farmers to grow organic canola..." Pretty pathetic if you ask me.
**Specific foods to avoid because of genetic manipulation are corn (in any variety, and it's in almost EVERYTHING, even powdered sugar!), canola and soy unless the package specifically states that it is not GMO (genetically modified).