What’s on your plate? If you do not eat locally grown, raised or produced food, then more than likely, you are eating food that is not real. This “food” has been chemically processed and refined while adding artificial ingredients to produce it in different shapes, sizes, tastes, colors and forms. And since our government allows genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be consumed by humans and farm animals, our “food” may contain foreign genes, which have been spliced together in laboratories.
In the 1950s, petrochemical companies started mass producing synthetic chemicals – from petroleum – cheaply and developed a partnership with the food industry that still exists today. This partnership made it possible for “food” to be mass produced and preserved for long periods of time while using a minimal amount of natural ingredients. The “food” that we have been consuming is sold and marketed as food but does not taste, smell or have the nutritional value that food did prior to “the great experiment.”
If you were born prior to the unauthorized – by the people – experimentation of our food supply, then you grew up eating real, whole and natural food – grown and raised by your family, neighbors and/or community residents. However, if you were born after 1950 and did not grow up eating locally grown, raised and/or produced food, then you may not know what’s on your plate. The “food” that we have been consuming has taken a toll on the natural environment, which we need to live – the land, air and water; our individual and collective health; and our state’s economy.
In putting an end to the toll on nature, our health and economy, we can heed the advice that George W. Carver – he never specified his middle name – gave while working at Tuskegee Institute. In a 1916 article, Dr. Carver wrote, “few, if any realize the wealth within our country and the ease with which we can, not only live, but accumulate much above a living.” In doing so, we Kentuckians should resurrect our agricultural heritage and begin to value land and our connection to it by growing food locally.
In addition, we should convene with farmers, elected officials, business leaders, educators, chefs, the faith community, community activists, the youth and other citizens to create a regional food system. The food system that we develop can revitalize our health, nature and our state’s economy, while creating an alternative to the industrial food system.