A few years ago, I visited my son and his family in Cincinnati. At the major-chain grocery near his home, I bought some “fresh” apples. At the first bite, I understood why city kids – at least the kids whose parents bought from that store – did not like fresh fruit.
I have tried to eat wooden decorative apples that were easier to chew, and with more flavor.
Local produce always is a good idea, although until now the argument mostly has been about freshness and safety. Admittedly, storage technology has improved in recent years, and apples from Peru are not bad. Though as a guy raised in one apple region, and now living in another, I still favor the apples I could watch growing.
In a town near where I grew up, the corn cannery had been converted to a mini-mall for tourists to buy local crafts and other trinkets. The cannery was a source of jobs and income for local kids. Many of them helped harvest the crops and worked in the plant, and their incomes circulated in the local economy.
Cannery workers were paid with money from school teachers, hardware store clerks and clothing sellers, who, in turn, used the money to buy more corn and other produce in what is sometimes called a circular economy.
But times changed. Trucks come to town with out-of-season produce from distant states (and often countries) and leave with the money, some of which is used to pay barely-subsistence wages to pickers from other lands.
Now come, we ae told, Russia-based computer hackers to disrupt our food supply. This week, they took control of one of the nation’s largest meatpackers. According to published reports, five JBS plants in the U.S. provide about a quarter of the nation’s beef supply and a fifth of its pork supply.
News reports for a few days will tell us meat prices are “skyrocketing” because meat will be in short supply.
A few years ago, ca. 1985-1986, before many of today’s moms and dads were buying milk for their youngsters, we taxpayers gathered up our money to buy dairy farmers out. There was too much milk, we were told, and cutting the herd size would raise the price of milk, making it more profitable for those farms left in production. Meanwhile, our federal largess effectively increased the size and market shares of the remaining corporate “farms.”
In recent years, climate change is causing more changes, with farm land becoming more profitably turned to recreational space for ATVs, RVs and human habitat.
Ken Baily was a seventh-generation dairy producer in the land of my youth. He was a descendant of two brothers who were paid for their Revolutionary War service with land in a state that at the time needed finding and settling. Ken was the last person in Maine to deliver milk door-to-door, straight from the cow to your home.
He often complained of the demise of the family farm, replaced by something he called “view stew.” Increasingly, young people left the farm to pursue riches and adventure in more financially lucrative endeavors.
But as anyone who knows me can attest, food is one of my favorite dishes. And if there is a problem with food I buy from the nearby farm or butcher shop, I know where I got it. (Though I’ve never had a problem from one of those stands, so I’ve never tested the idea.)
It’s nice to know where it comes from, and it’s nice to know someone in Russia cannot shut down my supply of eggs and country ribs.
I hope you enjoyed the journey. Thanks for coming along. Leave a comment or two, and please tap a button and share.