There are ever more articles published in the mainstream media, recognizing the plight of the industrial food system and suggesting various tentative solutions to the problem – more study, more subsidies, more farmers – and yet all they ever seem to conclude is the need for more money spent on marketing.
More marketing is the last thing we need; we don’t need more fat consultants on excessive stipends telling us we need more this, more that; the real need is for well-meaning people to get up, follow their dreams, and get growing and selling. They will be warned that there is no money is organic farming; that it is a lot of hard work for scant returns. Yet I, and many other ethically-minded farmers like me, live the dream every day. We get up with the first light, look out on the dawn mists across the valley, head out to open up the greenhouses and fields for the day, and get to work with our chores before the sun gets its heat fan going. We harvest greens, beets and carrots, beans, peas, berries and currants, and get them washed and cooled before the heat is cranked up. We just do it, not asking for any support, sympathy, or subsidy, as we know that governments are too busy helping out the big boys, propping up the ailing conventional agriculture model farm system. That’s OK; we can look after ourselves. We can make a very gratifying living by peddling our produce direct to eager, aware customers at weekly farmers markets where we can gauge production to match sales and come home sold out, with zero waste on most days where exceptional circumstances do not intervene – severe thunderstorms and extreme humidity are not good, but the recent G20 summit in Toronto, despite dire warnings, turned into our farm’s most successful market ever, thanks to the vigilance of our loyal customers. They turned out in droves, thanked us for being there, purchased (and, I hope, ate when they got home), heartily.
There is nothing wrong with this alternative regional food system that runs outside the industrial one. It is dynamic, lively, healthy, just missing maybe a few more intrepid, innovative growers and sellers of fresh local organic food to help us all stay healthy.
Best of all, we come home with beautiful breads, berries, smoked fish, cheeses, raw chocolates traded with our fellow producers, and tuck into a freshly-prepared dinner du jour. What could be better?