Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No Farms No Food

I've seen this bumper sticker around town and on the road. It's a great slogan. But I wanted to know more about where it came from and just who's slogan it is. I did an on-line search to find out... (I just love the internet for connecting with the things that really matter to me!) and I found out the it belongs to the American Farmland Trust. The mission of American Farmland Trust is to help farmers and ranchers protect their land, produce a healthier environment and build successful communities. To that end, the campaign of No Farms No Food, is all about supporting local food and farms.

The message is simple and couldn't be more clear—America's farms and ranches provide an unparalleled abundance of fresh, healthy and local food, but they are rapidly disappearing.

Eighty-six percent of America’s fruits and vegetables are grown near metro regions, where they are in the path of development. And every hour we lose 125 acres of farm and ranch land. That's why supporting local food and farms is more important than ever!

A few weekends ago, I took a class sponsored by the ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) on Starting a Market Garden Business. One of the many things I was surprised to learn is that 96% of the food that is grown in our Western North Carolina Region goes away, into the global food supply. That fact just amazed me. Add to that the fact that most of the food in our local stores has come 1000's of miles to get to us. No wonder food costs are soaring and much of the produce at the local grocery looks like it's been to the war and back! What is that all about?

No Food No Farms offers 2 ways to get involved...
1. Get the Free Bumper Sticker and display it. Spread the message in your community that you support local food and local farms by displaying a free No Farms No Food bumper sticker from American Farmland Trust. Request yours today!

2. Take the Keep It Local pledge and stand up for local food and farms! As consumers, we make a difference when we support local food and farmer's markets. Make a commitment to local food, farms and ranches and take the Keep It Local pledge now!
I must say that this excites the local foodie in me! I have ordered my bumper sticker and made the pledge. I invite you to do the same. If you can, make a donation to support the work of the American Farmland Trust.

After you take the pledge you too will get a letter like I did with some more great resource information.

Dear Beth,

Thank you for making a commitment to your local farms and ranches by taking American Farmland Trust’s Keep It Local Pledge. We hope you discover a new favorite food, make new connections with local farmers and ranchers and gain a deeper appreciation for what it takes to get a meal from farm to fork.

Here are some resources to get you started:

Find farms and ranches in your area. Map the distance to your home to find those within your pledge distance. Subscribe to their CSA, find them at a farmers' market or go to the farm if they have pick-your-own operations.

Search for restaurants that buy from local farms and ranches. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about where the food is from. A lot of restaurants take pride in providing fresh ingredients and will be glad you asked!

Learn what’s fresh in your area—and how to cook it. When you start eating local, you might come across new varieties of fruits and vegetables that you’ve never seen before. Your taste buds are in for a treat! Experiment and share recipes with other local food enthusiasts.

American Farmland Trust is committed to protecting farm and ranch land and increasing the availability of fresh, local foods. Support our work by donating today. Your gift will go a long way to help in our work with policy makers, communities and producers to save the land that sustains America.


Your friends at American Farmland Trust

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Every Dollar Spent is a VOTE!

A few months ago I saw something about The Better World Shopping Guide and went right ahead and ordered my family a copy. Right now I can't even remember where I saw it.. but I tell you that it has changed even more the way that I shop! This little book is a small but mighty weapon! It fits in my purse so that I can always have it with me... but really, that's the only small thing about it. I am so impressed with the work that went into this project that I want to share it with you.

from the website....
The idea: Money is power. And wherever large amounts of money collect, so also new centers of power form. The latest historical manifestation of this is the modern corporation. Make no mistake, these new power centers are not democracies. We don't vote for the CEO's or their policies (unless we are: rich enough to be significant shareholders, informed enough to know what's going one, and compassionate enough to care about more than just personal profit), yet our destinies are increasingly in their hands.

The solution: As these power centers shift, we must shift our own voices if we wish to be heard. As citizens, on average, we might vote once ever 4 years, if at all. As consumers, we vote every single day with the purest form of power...money.
The average American family spends around $18,000 each year on goods and services. Think of it as casting 18,000 votes every year for the kind of world you want to live in. Use this site to take back your power.

The Key issues:
1. HUMAN RIGHTS: sweatshops, 3rd world community exploitation, international health issues, divestment, child labor, code of conduct.

2. THE ENVIRONMENT: global warming, rainforest destruction, pollution, recycling, renewable energy, greenwashing, toxic waste, eco-innovations, illegal dumping, sustainable farming.

3. ANIMAL PROTECTION: factory farming, animal testing, humane treatment, wild animal habitat.

4. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: family farms, local business support, volunteer efforts, sustainable growth, philanthropic donations, nonprofit alliances, establishing foundations.

5. SOCIAL JUSTICE : fair wages, fatalities, union busting efforts, health & safety records, discrimination based on: race, gender, age, ability, religion, sexuality, ethnicity.

So how do we use this weapon? Knowledge is POWER as much as money is. And by arming ourselves with knowledge we can make informed decisions as we wield our POWER. The authors of this book bring us the knowledge we need to make these informed decisions.

My amazing seven-year old LOVES money. She thinks it is really cool to be able to buy herself the stuff that she wants. One of my goals as a parent is to teach her the concept of voting with her dollars! So yesterday we were out buying groceries and she had a few dollars burning a hole in her little purse. I had already used the book that day to make several shopping decisions... like which brand of ice cream, rice and cheese to buy. We were standing in line at the check out and Rebecca decided that she had to have some gum. After setting the example through our entire shopping trip, I handed her the book and said, "Look up Candy and see if you can find any of these products on the list and what grade they get." It was fascinating to watch her face as she realized that not a single candy product on the shelf in this conventional mainstream grocery had even a C or D grade. She decided to pass on the gum here. We did go to a healthy grocery next to pick up a few more things and they had the gum that scored an A.
Let me tell you, the satisfaction this kid has knowing that she supported a company that got an A with her 79 cent purchase was glowing on her face at the check out and every time she pops one of those pieces of gum into her mouth, true satisfaction! Lesson learned. Start'em young, I say!
I encourage you to check out the website, buy yourself a copy, give a few as gifts, share the lesson/solution with friends, co-workers, and family! Know that supporting this project will help get subsequent editions published and spread the teaching of a new way of thinking about dollars spent.
Start revolutionizing the way YOU shop. BE armed with knowledge. And remember that EVERY DOLLAR spent is a VOTE for the practices of the company your dollar supports! Make sure that you are supporting practices that you can believe in.