Where does food come from? It’s a question that’s become increasingly difficult to answer, especially for younger generations and school-aged kids. For those born in the era of Big Ag, by all obvious clues, food comes from a store, a restaurant, a box, a can, a plastic bag, a frozen microwaveable plate. Ask students to identify grapes, what french fries are made of, and the main ingredient in ketchup or pizza sauce and they may simply have no clue. The answer of course, is a farm, or in many cases — a factory farm, where massive quantities of food (vegetables, fruits, grains, meat, eggs, etc.) are produced to feed the masses. But what’s become of the small family farm?
There’s nothing more nostalgically American than a family farm — cows grazing on grass and getting plenty of Vitamin D, chickens out to pasture and eating (get this) worms and bugs, and raised beds of organically produced fruits and vegetables. But while this scene resonates with something very archaic within us, there’s also a fight for this kind of food freedom happening right under our noses. The American liberty to “grow our own,” or purchase from those who do, is being threatened by big business and government bureaucracy, and for those who both enjoy the taste of slow food and traditional (ie: unprocessed, real) foods and also eat for good health, this has scary implications.
Often, Big Ag tends to give even the most quality family-run farms a bad name. In light of food contamination outbreaks (salmonella and e.coli), factories are often served a warning or a slap on the wrist from the USDA (think back to a few weeks ago and my blog on Cargill’s salmonella outbreak which netted a voluntary recall), whereas small family farms whose products are often much healthier because of the smaller and slower operation, get the brunt of the attack. (Think back also to Rawesome -- the organic food buying club in L.A. -- that was raided at gunpoint by a SWAT team for selling organic raw milk in a state where this is legal).
Filmmaker Kristin Canty found this to be true when she began her quest to find healthy food for her four children. As luck would have it, this health journey morphed into a timely educational lesson, in which she discovered access to farm-fresh foods in America is being threatened. Canty learned that government policies favor agribusiness and factory farms over small family-operated farms that sell their fresh foods in their communities and farmers markets. In cases similar to that of Cargill and Rawesome, Canty believes that, “instead of focusing on the source of food safety problems — most often the industrial food chain — policymakers and regulators implement and enforce solutions that target and often drive out of business small farms that have proven themselves more than capable of producing safe, healthy food, but buckle under the crushing weight of government regulations and excessive enforcement actions.” This journey is documented in Canty’s film Farmageddon: The Unseen War On America’s Family Farms.
Monday September 12th, a screening of Farmageddon will be held at the Pearl Stables for $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Snacks and drinks (healthy and organic, one would assume) will be covered and tickets can be purchased on the Farm and Food Leadership Conference website. The Farmageddon screening starts at 7:00 pm and is sure to raise lots of questions, concern, and incite us to action -- to stand up for the small family farm and our right to grow.
Liz Schau is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor who specializes in nutritional changes for women with thyroid disease, food allergies, autoimmunity, and digestive health concerns. You can find her at LizSchau.com.