When I return to this neck of the woods, I dread the food. There are more fast food restaurants here than parks, which might explain why a good percentage of my parents' neighbors depend on convenience chairs to get around. Scary. I was bound and determined to find fresh food in this state for once and thus began my search for goods a solid six weeks in advance.
Local Harvest was absolutely indispensable. If you don't know about this site, you should. It can locate a sustainable farm, farmers market, or natural foods store anywhere in the U.S. It's through them that I got hooked up with the Nebraska Food Cooperative, who in turn provided me with a local heritage turkey, organic veggies, and other sustainably grown sundries that we would use for our Thanksgiving feast. To top it off, I ordered everything online and it was delivered straight to my parents' front door. We didn't even need to go grocery shopping before the big day. How awesome is that?
Ironically, in the heart of America's farmland, it's not that easy to find fresh, local, sustainable food. Big Ag and junk food crammed grocery shelves have left small family farms with a mere pittance share of the market. This land, nostalgically remembered for adorable livestock grazing the electric green back 40 and returning at night to a quaint brick red barn standing amongst waving wheat fields, is in reality a heartbreak. The soil suffers from severe nutrient deficiency and erosion under intensive chemical farming practices and monocrops. Farmers end up beholden to the bank, the seed companies, and government subsidies. Small farmers, who don't qualify for the subsidies, find themselves working full-time off farm jobs in order to make ends meet. It's a sad situation all around.
Maybe it's the romantic in me, pining for "the old ways", that makes me go out of my way and plunk down a few more dollars to purchase from the little guy who cares about the health of the land regardless of financial loss. I also just think it's the right thing to do.
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