We are very proud of our geographic region, the good food we offer comes from Small Farms of the Western Upstate New York Finger Lakes Region.
An aesthetic and biological fact, fresh food is glorious. The flavors of such foods are rich and unique and their abundant varieties tell the story of the land and the farmer. There is an unbelievable difference between fresh, naturally grown produce and the industrial food varieties that are bred to be grown in monoculture, harvested unripe, and shipped across the country (if not around the world). The small farm treats, the flavor of unspoiled nutrients, and the experience of food integrity from local farms brings the finest cuisine back to the mouths of the people. Such an experience is to eat with an artistic desire, a need for nourishment, and an expectation of adventure.
Nothing is more critical to our health than what we consume. We are what we eat. Good, whole foods that are free of harmful chemicals, dense with nutrients, and representative of the basic food groups are the foundation of good health for all people. Eating fresh, local foods that are grown in ecologically sound ways offers this direct health benefit AND the indirect health benefit of supporting a food system that dramatically reduces harmful air, water, and soil pollution in our surrounding environments.
Our country’s current system of agribusiness and food processing, packaging, and distribution is an environmental disaster. Supporting local farmers that are committed to farming in sustainable ways, and engaging them in the development of a localized food system, is a revolutionary response that will foster ecologically sound farming practices, enhance the viability of small farms, and eliminate huge amounts of energy and pollution associated with the production, processing, packaging, and distribution of food.
Community-based commerce creates a space where farmers and consumers are brought together, where people gather and talk, and where excitement and merriment is in the air. This type of commerce is a powerful tool that brings communities together, fosters a sense of place and feeling of belonging, builds relationships and networks, and develops the social capitol necessary for sustained community revitalization and a wonderful quality of life. In addition, the relationship between urban areas and their surrounding agricultural communities that must exist to sustain a localized food system is developed and strengthened.
Supporting locally owned businesses and other wonderful local assets is far more powerful than we may think. Certainly there is the direct benefit for the local person making the sale, but the “rippling” benefits of money spent locally continue to unfold from there. Local businesses are 3 to 4 times more likely to spend locally within their business expenditures and the profits, made and exchanged, are often still nested within our community. A single dollar bill, as it is cyclically earned and spent, is potential income for 7 to 9 local people when it is mindfully spent with the intention to support the local economy. The not uncommon alternative is a dollar that quickly flows out of our community into the hands (and pockets) of distant, large corporations never to return again, pulling money out of our community and dismantling our systems of self-reliance, job creation, and economic prosperity.
Issues of food security and food safety are directly related to our reliance on distant and over-scaled systems of food production. The development of a local food system is the most effective way to address these concerns. The stability and integrity of foods, within a network of local production and distribution, is the foundation of a community’s food security and safety and the product of a responsible scale.
Within the context of our current system of agriculture and the associated driving agricultural policy, we have a handful of choices. We can continue to rely on a system with destructive habits, a tenuous sense of stability, and a stench of greed. Or, we can recognize the misguided nature of our current situation and work to develop alternatives. Alternatives that are guided by values of social and environmental justice, determined to create intelligent, creative, and sustainable food systems, and committed to success. Such alternatives are the good work ahead.