When it comes to the idea of sustainable agriculture and helping small farmers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you’re just starting out. How do I help? What can I do? Where do I start? Those are the main questions people will ask when the subject of helping small farmers arises.
Here are some ways we’ve suggested that we’ve also shared on our website:
- Know where your food comes from and what’s in it. Read the labels at the grocery store.
- Buy food that’s in season when possible. Why? It tastes better but it’s also less likely to have traveled thousands of miles using up untold amounts of nonrenewable fuels.
- Buy locally. That means several things:
- Shopping at your local farmers market. Their numbers are increasing around the United States, and for good reason: the food is almost always fresher and locally grown, you can actually talk to the person who raised it about his or her farming practices, and you’re helping small farmers succeed
- Joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. You can buy a “share” in a member farm and then receive a regular, usually weekly, delivery of seasonal products. These products can include meat, egg and dairy items as well as vegetables and fruits. As at farmers markets, the food is fresher and you know who produced it and how.
- Visiting area “you-pick” farms, places where you can pick your own berries or melons, for example. You’ll connect with nature, and if you bring the children, they’ll learn that strawberries don’t naturally come in plastic-wrapped containers.
- Asking your local restaurants to feature locally grown foods, and then patronize those that do.
- Educate yourself on the issues. Not all foods that are advertised as “organic” really are. Is it necessarily wrong to treat sick livestock with antibiotics, especially if farmers follow proper safety procedures? Some websites to check out:
www.ifpri.org (International Food Policy Research Institute)
Of course – there are just a few of the ways we suggest. How do you plan to help small farmers?