Understanding where your food originates from may not be something that many think of but when you grow up on a farm, it is literally right in front of you. Whether it be from raising your own beef to knowing where each of the cucumbers which are being made into pickles originated, it is a clear and often short pathway.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture however, less than two percent of Americans now actually live on farms. This leaves 98% of our population consuming food without the knowledge of where their food originated, how it was processed and at times even when it was harvested. If this sounds like a concern to you, you are not wrong because it clearly is a problem.
For me, life has been different than those who live in cities. I grew up on a farm in French Lick, Indiana where we raised cattle, horses, chickens, ducks, corn, soybeans and wheat. My parents were both incredibly hard workers and my dad was a business entrepreneur. In addition to the farm, my parents owned a grocery store and a restaurant. Both businesses were heavily family operated and I can actually remember carrying out groceries at the age of five – probably even before that actually. My memories are that I was very helpful to my family. The truth, however, is not easily seen when you are that young.
My parents didn’t just have a garden, they had two of them and they were not your ‘normal’ sized gardens. Each garden was a few acres in size and they were worked daily. Mom was an incredible cook who fed five kids, four of them growing boys, without ever seemingly breaking a sweat. Breakfast, lunch and dinner all came mainly from the farm. Canning, freezing and butchering were all just part of life and in my thoughts anyway, normal. Although the meats stocked at Roach’s Market were purchased, they were from local butchers who harvested, processed and sold their meats fresh. Dad would purchase everything from fresh Italian sausage to ribeyes to turkeys from wholesalers within about an hour radius of their store. Oh, and all of the ground beef was processed right there in the store. That is the way it was, it seemed normal but actually wasn’t.
Knowing where our food has originated and the path it has taken to the tables of our families may seem like a formidable task and the truth is that it is not an easy treck to follow. The good news however is that it is possible and with that possibility is an opportunity for each individual and their families. We all want to provide the absolute best for our families and we may actually think this is being done but prepackaged meats in large box stores may not be of the quality that is expected. This is not a slam on large box stores, this is a look at the reality that may very well exist.
Is it possible to bring transparency back to the food families are consuming? The answer is yes which then raises another question… if transparency is possible then why would anyone settle for less? The answer is simple, we as consumers cannot settle for less. It is time that everyone expects and demands more. Why? For ourselves, for our families, for a healthier lifestyle.