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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why Homestead?

(This is part of a two-part post. Read HOW I am making a difference in our family's food here.)

Am I crazy?

Some people have asked if I'm crazy in my desires for self-reliance. It's so much work. It can be tedious or boring. Don't I have loftier goals for myself?

It's hard to explain all the reason's why I feel so strongly about the food we eat and where it comes from. There is so much to say. There are entire books on this topic alone. Here are the summarized points I want you to consider (there are a lot of links so you can explore the topics more in depth):

1- What are the ethics behind your food? Did you know America's sugar is almost exclusively made by slaves?  The sugar for your candy is made by modern slaves in the Caribbean, and they are owned by AMERICAN companies. Try finding an ethical source of sugar- I tried and had a very hard time finding it. Learn about the corporate practices behind your food labels. So many of them are ravishing the environments or spewing poisons. Animal products are processed in the most disgusting ways. I don't like the idea of supporting meat companies that are so cruel to animals. Simply put, I don't want my consumer dollar to support any corrupt companies. 

2- What is the health cost behind your food? Many foods are contaminated with harmful or deadly bacteria due to the unclean practices used on the corporate farm. What are you ingesting along with your salad? What pesticides are on it? Did you know the fertilizers are often sewage sludge? (Doesn't that explain why there are so many food recalls from contaminated produce?)What about E coli? Salmonella? Read more about food safety issues from the Union of Concerned Scientists. What is in your milk? Did you know that milk is tainted with steroids, harmful hormones, and antibiotics? (Lactating mothers know they can't breastfeed their babies while on antibiotics because the medicine crosses into the breast why are people okay with giving antibiotics and other drugs to dairy cows?) You can find good food in your area by clicking here or here. See why Jersey cow milk is healthier than the store-bought Holstein cow milk here.

3- What do you spend on food? As fuel prices increase, so does the food price. Remember all the oil used to grow the food? Farmers have to increase their produce price to compensate for their increased fuel costs. In the next year alone, the grocery prices will almost double, according to Marjory Wildcraft. Watch her lecture here to see why.

4- Food politics are a nasty thing. I feel like it's SO IMPORTANT to grow my own food or support local farms and avoid inadvertently giving money to Cargill and Monsanto (read or watch just about ANY food documentary and you'll learn about these corporations. It's too corrupt and too in-depth for me to try to share any of the issues here about those companies. You'd probably never come back after reading one of my lengthy tirades against bad food politics...politics like this.)

5- Why are you eating GMOs? Genetically Modified Food, aka Frankenfood. These have so many problems! In America these products aren't labeled, so you don't realize that the Kraft mac and cheese on your table contains GMO ingredients. These foods have been proven to cause health problems, and GMO foods are banned in most developed countries of the world. Japan's stance regarding GMOs is essentially "we'll watch what happens to America's children after eating GMOs for several years before we allow it in our own country. America can be the world's guinea pig". Aren't these red flags to you?

6- Do you realize what would happen if there was an oil embargo or trucking strike?  America would starve. Our food is produced almost exclusively with fossil fuels. Tractors are used to plant, fertilize, pesticide, and harvest the food. Tractors require a LOT of fuel. Then consider all the shipping fuel required to transport the food from the farm to your grocery store. What would happen with a trucking strike? Grocery stores would have empty shelves in less than 2 days. What would you do for your children? Do you really want to leave your food security in the hands of others?

I didn't used to think about my food, beyond the decision of what to make for dinner. I was first exposed to the concept of food origin (and it's accompanying politics, ethics, and health issues) in a book club. Then I learned some more in my own library digging.

In every book club I join I now recommend "Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. He was several books published about food, but this is a good one to start with.

I opened my mind to moving on a farm only after I read "Animal, Vegetable Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. (It's the second book I recommend to friends.) Her family ate only what they could produce for themselves (or buy from a farm within a 5 mile radius) for an entire year, just to see if it was too difficult to be a lifestyle choice. It's a fascinating (and entertaining) read. Nathan and I enjoyed reading it aloud together in the evenings. She's a great writer. Her bibliography at the end lists a comprehensive list of books to read regarding the differing aspects of food safety, sustainability, and politics. There are too many for me to list here. Visit her website here.

"Fast Food Nation" is a great one to read particularly regarding meat-processing plants. I thought  most things had changed since the writing of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle". I'm not as correct as I had thought. There are still so many glaring problems with just the food safety issues at these plants, let alone employee treatment.

I highly recommend you check those books out from your library and peruse them. It's so important to at least be educated about food issues so you can make your choices without ignorance. As the parents of our homes, we are the ones selecting the menus for our children. They trust us to do what's best for them. How can I encourage my loved ones to eat contaminated food?

If we don't know how to produce our own food, we are irretrievably chained to corporations. We lose freedoms. How? We depend on these companies for our own lives, literally our daily bread. Get to know your food. I'm a fiercely independent person and I refuse to be enslaved to company greed. I am not just a number in a statistic for their marketing teams to analyze. I am a free person, and I refuse to partake in the mass consumerism gripping our nation.

The answer for me was to be as self-reliant as possible. Not everyone can do that, but You CAN make a difference.  Learn how here. Learn more about food safety here. Those of you who prefer visual documentaries should watch "Food, Inc." to learn more about food issues.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.     ~Margaret Mead

If you have learned something new here, share this post online with others. Facebook. Twitter. It's so important that we know where our food comes from!


JRoberts said...

Wonderful post. Here in Canada, we have a few different issues (but #3 and 6 are VERY applicable) but we still strive to be as self reliant as we can.

I have read two of your books (and have you read The China Study? or watched "Food Inc"?) and have the "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" on hold at our library.

Thanks for the overview. I love to read about others motivation.

renae kingsley said...

I haven't heard of the China Study yet....thanks so much for the recommendation! Food Inc was one of the early documentaries that I viewed in my search for more information.

Melissa said...

I agree entirely. We're going to be moving to our own little homestead next spring and we're so eager to go I can't even express it.

Sometimes I can't decide if I'm crazy or if everyone else is!