Consumers Need to Know Where Their Food Comes From
Throughout the years I’ve been involved in agrisciences, I’ve had many occasions to interact with farmers, ranchers, and other producers who ensure we have food on our table. As long ago as I can remember, these farmers and ranchers have expressed concerns that people simply don’t understand where their food comes from, or what it takes to get a crop to the market.
Because I’ve worked in biotechnology, I’ve also interacted with many consumers. Working professionals, people, who do their best to get healthy food on the table amidst work, family, and community demands. These people also have concerns. Why is our food lacking nutrition? Why is it flavorless? Why do we have so many food allergies, sensitivities, and health problems related to diet? How come grandma, who grew up on the farm, ate whatever she wanted and lived a long healthy life? How come people today are allergic to wheat, milk, gluten, peanuts, and so many other foods we thought were good for us?
Because I have worked in government, I worry every time I hear consumer groups fighting for stronger labeling laws and more rigid food safety regulations. It’s not that I have a problem with knowing what’s in the food, or with having food that is safe. On the contrary, my concern with labels and policies is that they always involve fine print most consumers never read. Hidden between the lines of this fine print are countless middlemen who benefit more from so-called safety legislation than either the growers or the consumers the legislation is intended to impact. In the end, they promote a false sense of security about our food. The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 is a piece of legislation that, in my opinion, should terrify anyone who eats food in the United States. But if legislation can’t make our food system safe, who can?
Food Safety and Security Begins Where Growers and Consumers Meet
Buying Directly from Farmers and Marketing Affiliates Allows Consumers Better Access to Food Information
My belief is that true food safety, and sustainable food security will begin at home, with empowered consumers who care where food comes from, and how it is grown. Some of this can be achieved buying produce directly from the farm, or at farmers markets that foster dialog with actual growers.
Unfortunately, many regions in and beyond the US that lack access to sufficient farmer’s markets and fresh produce to meet consumer demands. This is why, since founding End-O-Fite Enterprises LLC in 2012, I have focused not only on soil health services for growers, but also on increasing direct market access to high quality nutrition products for consumers. Through these efforts we have acquired many clients who are not only enjoying excellent nutrition, but are actually growing their own food or supporting local growers in ways that increase availability of truly fresh produce!
New Partnership Positions us to Expand Local Food Networks
In recent months, we have established some new affiliations that are helping us build bridges connecting our farms to tables. In October, I made a second visit to Schultz Family Farms in Longmont, Colorado, where I met with growers and consumers alike. Working with Glen Schultz, we provided a number of demonstrations and seminars dealing with microbiomes for soil health and human nutrition. Longmont lies in Boulder County, and growers there are under pressure to convert farmland to organic practices. Microbes offer a great tool for building soils that ensure organic conversions will be both sustainable and profitable. We met with several consumer groups in Longmont as well, who are eager to learn more about where their food comes from. The efforts we began in October in Longmont will continue online with a live version of our Cultivating Victory Blog (more below).
We also built a composting bioreactor, and ran some bioassays comparing plant growth and microbial dynamics in composts grown with and without complex blends of plant derived trace minerals. I was skeptical that a compost which already displayed a thriving food web could be improved by the addition of trace minerals that are not listed as plant nutrients, but I also recognize that we must not limit our thinking on soil nutrition to what plants need, if we want healthy soil microbiomes. The initial tests we ran in Longmont were promising. Fungal spore types that were absent from the control compost were visible after trace minerals were added, and seedlings that germinated in the compost with trace minerals were slightly larger, with thicker leaves and stems, than the controls. These initial observations should not be considered akin to a scientific study.
Successful networking is key to any kind of growth, and Longmont was a great place to find others concerned about the need for local farms that grow produce on healthy soils. One outcome of the many farm tours and conferences I attended while there was that we were able to develop a plan to expand healthy food networks that include local farmers, home and community gardeners, and local food advocates from Las Cruces to Longmont. Soon after we verbalized the plan, Suzanne Ricketts, a permaculture growers in Plano, Texas, agreed to join our effort. As of May, 2018, our network includes members in New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and Massachusetts. We are expanding daily. Members within our network are teaching local growers and consumers the power of microbes, mineral nutrients, networked economies, and natural health. Our members also provide access to income opportunities and high quality nutritional supplements through direct market affiliates. This model will allow our team to directly address microbial and metabolic imbalances from the soil to the gut while creating revenue streams that promote the growth of debt free local farms that are connected to local markets of motivated customers.
Cultivating Victory Goes Live To Expand Dialogs Between Growers and Consumers.
To maintain the momentum ignited by the community in Longmont, Glen Schultz and I hosted an online series during the winter of 1017-2018 called Cultivating Victory Live, in which we were priviledged to interview a number of local food producers and healthy food system advocates who are working to make local food more accessible. Although we have paused these interviews over the summer, the initial interviews, recorded on YouTube, provide a platform where growers, agricultural support service providers, and consumers can share open dialog about where food comes from and how it impacts our health. Please enjoy these interviews, and let us know who else you would like us to speak with.
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We eat food every day. How food is grown and consumed impacts every sector of our economy and our environment.
With a national healthcare crisis that is driving consumer interest in the kind of wholesome nutrition that is best offered by locally grown fresh produce, there has never been a better time to support the growth of new farms that serve local markets.
Our model for connecting growers to consumers who want healthy food has potential to benefit many within and beyond our network. Whether you are seeking more nutritious food, wanting to the growth of more local and regenerative farms, or simply want to help us expand our region of influence, please speak to the person who shared this with you, or use our contact form, to let us know how we can help.
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