Essay Contest: Grow Local to Benefit Your Community {Second Place Winner}

April 29 2014, No Comments

Growing up in the Texas Hill Country exposed me to farm life. My family always had a large vegetable garden and we raised chickens. My little sister even had a prize-winning lamb. My mom always cooked healthy meals that included fresh produce and unprocessed meat. We would share fresh eggs and vegetables from our garden, with neighbors. In return, our neighbors might give us goat cheese, peaches and fresh cow’s milk. This made maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying connected with nature and our community easy.

Our family never questioned the food we ate, but we always noticed that the grocery store didn’t provide near the quality of taste that we and our neighbors grew and raised, but chalked it up mostly to freshness. When I moved out of my parents’ house, I ate more unhealthy and fast-food. I noticed that my health suffered and I gained weight. My siblings noticed this change as well, and our entire family began questioning what our modern diet options were.

Just as our family began questioning food, so too did many other Americans. We learned that certain produce was genetically modified, and that much produce was artificially ripened. We learned that artificial hormones, high amounts of antibiotics and chemicals are added to meats and dairy products, and fast food added unhealthy and unnecessary things to their food in order to appeal to the customer’s taste. As food at the grocery store became less healthy and a lot less tasty, fast food made ample gains in making temptatious food.

Our family located and began shopping at local farmer’s markets over grocery stores. My mom stopped buying the typical seeds sold, and ordered heirloom seeds. My mom convinced my dad to stop using chemical fertilizers, and converted him to use and experiment with different, organic methods. My older brother built a completely organic farm on his land.

Locally grown food tends to be tastier and better for your health. The environment also wins. Rather than shipping from across the planet or refrigerated trucks that use fuel, polluting the air, you have a much smaller carbon output with local farming.

Instead of your standard-sized regular tomato crossed with fish genes to survive in cold weather and then artificially ripened with barely any flavor, you can have a tasty, heirloom tomato. Top chefs have their own gardens or buy locally to serve up the freshest and tastiest food possible.

Locally grown food brings the local community together and provides many with a beneficial experience. You can see people smile when they say things like, “I got these tomatoes from Jim’s farm down the road.”

Programs such as Community Supported Agriculture allow ways for people to find others in their community to buy shares of food and/or get involved. The family experience is also great as kids of all ages learn how things in nature are all connected, especially if you or your family does some of the growing.

With so many gains to be had from buying and growing locally and the trend of big agriculture becoming unsustainable, it is easy to see why so many people are instead looking locally when it comes to producing their food needs. While much praise should be given to big agriculture for providing food for the human race over the past century, it is becoming apparent that there is a need for and many positives that can come from locally grown food.

This article has been condensed and edited.

About the Author: Kimberly Hancock

Online Editor - Fall 2013, Spring 2014

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