“Eat Local” and “Local Food” seem to be the buzz words this summer. I think if you understand the reasons for your choices this is a great way to go. A few years back there was a big push for everything organic which is where the “eat local” movement kind of got it’s start. Now the major corporations of America have jumped on the “organic” bandwagon and you can buy “organic” foods at just about any market in the country.
I am all for organic foods. I think as a whole the US relies to much on pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Our nation is becoming full of overweight and unhealthy people. Myself included. Recently I caught a program on HGTV where the hosts were visiting a local organic produce farm to procure some food for their restaurant. During the show they also visited a farm stand that was supplied by a single farmer. Since their interests were in organic produce they asked the farmer what percentage of his farm was organic. The farmer laughed and said, “0%! Are you crazy?! If I don’t spray my crops every 4 to 5 days I wont be able to grow a thing! Who want tomatoes with spots on them!” I sat there dumbfounded. The hosts had a look of sheer surprise on their faces. I couldn’t believe what I had heard!
In a nation that got its start because of the hardworking farmer we have become a people afraid of buying tomatoes with spots on them! 75% or more of the seed companies in the United States are owned by the companies that make products such as Roundup. The problem with Roundup is that these products not only kill the bad bugs but the good bugs as well.
There are 2 basic types of bugs. First we have the plant eating bugs such as horn-worms, Japanese beetles, and aphids. These are the bugs the farmers and the gardeners fear. Then there are the bug eating bug such as ladybugs, spiders, hornets and lots more. So basically we have herbivores and predators. The plant eating bugs reproduce VERY quickly. The predator bug reproduce slowly but will eat thousands upon thousands of the plant eating bug in it’s lifetime. Essentially they balance each other out. When farmers use products such as Roundup they are killing all the bugs at the same rate. Well some of the bugs will have survived the mass killing and NOW we have a problem. Lets assume that in a 1 foot by 1 foot plot 10 plant eating bugs and 10 predator bugs survive. The food source for the predator bugs has diminished so they reproduce very slowly. The food source for the plant eaters has increased because they are not competing for the food source and they begin to reproduce very quickly. The 10 predator bugs can not keep up with the growth of the plant eaters, the perfectly balanced system is now unbalanced and the bugs the farmer was trying to get rid of have multiplied. Only now these bugs no longer have a natural predator to help keep them at bay. So what is a farmer to do? Spray again! And the problem just gets worse.
Our food supply is tainted with chemical pesticides. Bugs become resistant to the pesticides so scientists use hormones and antibiotics to create more disease and pest resistant plants. The cycle is never ending and by the time that tomato makes it to your table there is no telling how many ways it was genetically altered and how many types of poison may have leeched through the roots and into the flesh. In fact, did you know that because of high demand for “fresh” produce most mass market tomato farms pick all of their fruit while it is still green. After harvest it is sprayed with a chemical that helps it to “ripen” while it is en route to your local grocery store! YUM!
I will have more tomorrow on why I have decided that eating local is a great idea. I will talk about the transport of food as well as the word “organic” and what it really means!