The Heart of the Commonwealth

September 16-22, 2019

The genesis of these writings was watching people I know and love making lousy food choices, which in turn has an impact on our community, our state, even our Big Blue Nation. Consuming industrial foods harms the planet, which includes harm to you, your housemates, extended family, and neighbors. Eating foods raised regeneratively is beneficial to the planet, this means that it’s beneficial for you, your housemates, extended family, and neighbors. Just think, what if we all committed to making good food choices?  How might it impact our Commonwealth and the people we all know and love?

Each of us is a little organism running around among millions of other organisms, and collectively we form the state of Kentucky. Each of us has slightly different characteristics, but we all impact the space we call home. I have heard for years that Kentucky is reported to have a high incidence of diet related health problems. It seems to me that proper diet is the antidote for diet related disease. The data coming out of the Kentucky Farm Share Coalition validates this statement. (I shared the latest research earlier this season, but if you missed it, please reach out and I can make sure you see it.)

Employers that have incentivized their staff to eat better by offering vouchers to join an organic CSA like ours, are seeing less health care claims than predicted. My interpretation: the people I know and love will be spending time in the kitchen consuming awesome tasting foods and have more time for fun instead of sitting in a waiting room with other sick people. Wouldn’t the overall productivity of our communities go up? Hmmm, to me this is just like the regenerative approach we take to building healthy soil.

When Euro-Americans rolled over the Native Kentuckians with their wheels and steel, technologies never seen before in these parts, they unwittingly also brought insidious diseases that decimated the native population. More recently, Big Food is wielding all the power, and feeding the world with never-seen-before technologies, evolving at break-neck speeds. I am still amazed it is considered normal to manipulate chromosomes, and tweak toxins to apply them to farms and food. At Elmwood and other regenerative farms, we are considered odd balls, babes in the woods, or crying foul. But what if we all find out in ten or twenty more years of the lunacy that there is some insidious disease that came in the cheap food Trojan horse?

The consolidation of food suppliers, just as in other industries of our economy, comes at a cost. In my travels, I have seen supply chains at their finest. The efficiency at which cabbage can be turned into coleslaw and beef to burgers is remarkable. My takeaway is how tenuous it is. Get a snowstorm and the shelves empty. Shut down the trucking industry and the warehouses empty. Disallow trained workers to harvest the crops and farms stop delivering. Whether it’s 3-5 day’s food supply or two weeks’ worth, I’m hedging my bets and sourcing local.

The delusive disease of consolidation is control of the genetics. Vertically integrated pork and poultry industries have extremely shallow gene pools, beef is decentralized at the farm level, so it’s a bit more diverse. A fistful of international vegetable companies has a grip on produce genetics, hiding behind the veil of differing catalogues. Feed grains are controlled and manipulated by one or two or three, depending on how you count. Thankfully, we still have access to diverse seed banks, due to the local food movement and the National Organic Standards Board.

Then, there’s the financial side of the equation. Let’s say 20,000 of the 325,000 people that call Lexington home spent $10 at the Lexington Farmers Market one Saturday. That would put $200,000 into the pockets of a handful of small farmers. Say we use that purchasing power during the ten weeks of local sweet corn season, and we’re at $2,000,000. That’s two million dollars that should roll over within the local economy 4.5 times, and now we’re pushing ten million dollars.

It does indeed matter whether your fingerprints are left on a pesticide jug somewhere in rural Kentucky, or alternatively, whether your fingerprints are left behind at a farmers market. Critical thinkers have the opportunity to lead their loved ones to save the planet one bite at a time. Committed consumers can invest in their local agrarian footprint as Wendell Berry said, “Eating is an agricultural act.”  A decentralized food system builds strength through numbers. Just as in nature, the more diverse the ecosystem, the more stable it is. Then, and only then, do we have a healthy Commonwealth.  -Mac Stone

In Your Share

  • Arugula
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Microgreens/Shoots
  • New Potatoes
  • Okra
  • Squash, Spaghetti
  • Surprise Item
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips


Check out our Pinterest board for this week’s recipes!

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