Saturday, July 28, 2012

Supporting our local farmers' markets

Jeff D. Leach is a science and archaeology writer and in his New York Times article he suggests,  “as we move deeper into a ‘postmodern’ era of squeaky-clean food and hand sanitizers at every turn, we should probably hug our local farmers’ markets a little tighter, because they may represent our only connection with some ‘old friends’ we cannot afford to ignore.”

The old friends he refers to here are the microorganisms that once covered our food and us.  And as nature’s blanket, Mr. Leach goes on to argue, “The potentially pathogenic and benign microorganisms associated with the dirt that once covered every aspect of our preindustrial day guaranteed a time-honored co-evolutionary process that established ‘normal’ background levels and kept our bodies from overreacting to foreign bodies. This research suggests that reintroducing some of the organisms from the mud and water of our natural world would help avoid an overreaction of an otherwise healthy immune response that results in such chronic diseases as Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and a host of allergic disorders.”

The community farmers’ markets in America are now over 7,000 strong and growing.  Mr Leach claims, “These are being heralded as a panacea for what ails our sick nation. The smell of fresh, earthy goodness is the reason environmentalists approve of them, locavores can’t live without them, and the first lady has hitched her vegetable cart crusade to them. As health-giving as those bundles of mouthwatering leafy greens and crates of plump tomatoes are, the greatest social contribution of the farmers’ market may be its role as a delivery vehicle for putting dirt back into the American diet and in the process, reacquainting the human immune system with some old friends.”

Read the entire article here.

Meanwhile in Seattle, Matthew Ryan Williams says in his NYT article, “The movement toward local food is creating a vibrant new economic laboratory for American agriculture. The result, with its growing army of small-scale local farmers, is as much about dollars as dinner: a reworking of old models about how food gets sold and farms get financed, and who gets dirt under their fingernails doing the work.”

The article goes on to cite Narenda Varma, a former manager at Microsoft who invested $2 million of his own money last year in a 58-acre project of small plots and new-farmer training near Portland, Oregon.  And according to Mr. Varma, “The future is local.”

Thus, more predictable revenue streams, especially at a time when so many investments feel risky, are creating a firmer economic argument for local farming that, in years past, was more of a political or lifestyle choice.

Read complete article here.

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  1. The farmer's market is one of my favorite things about the summertime.
    Great post.
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

  2. Love shopping the farm markets!

  3. Just this year, we bought a half-share
    in a local, organic farm collective.
    Wonderful produce.
    I had never thought of the side you present here; thanks!

  4. Fresh produce grown locally is the best. This is great information. Thanks you for sharing at YSB this week. xo

  5. great article ...
    our Farmer's market is quite 'old', but becomes more and more sophisticated each year!

  6. Having grown up in a rural community and spending almost all waking hours outside when weather permitted, I have been a long time proponent of not keeping children inside. I have often gotten in discussions with young parents about the disadvantages of keeping their child overly clean and out of nature. A little dirt is good for building robust immune systems and it had been proven for decades by the number of people of my generation and older that rarely got sick and seldom saw a doctor until they reach an advanced age. Myself and my husband and our children included.