Those of us living in Western Massachusetts are privileged to have lots of farmers markets and CSA’s offering excellent quality, locally-grown fresh food at a very reasonable price. Many people buy from local farmers (who are also our neighbors) because the food is so good. But that’s not the only reason I walk my dog to North Amherst on Saturday mornings.
At a time when our global food system is threatened and corporate political power is out of control, many of us choose to buy local as an act of protest. We “vote for democracy and community” with our dollars by not supporting a global food system whenever possible.
I was thinking about this while walking Riley down to the North Amherst Farmers Market on Saturday morning. It was a lovely day, but I was troubled by the political theater around a “manufactured” debt crisis. I had sent a few emails to congress, but was feeling helpless. Economic recession… debt crisis… corporate influence on government and control of the food system… it all seemed connected.
The global food system favors large, financially efficient businesses which exploit people, undermine democracy, erode community and degrade natural resources in order to maximize profits for shareholders. When economic power is concentrated in the hands of a few multi-national corporations, it not only results in the erosion of environmental quality and social justice – but creates a political situation that undermines democracy. And I help create this situation every time I buy food that is offered by the global food system.
So Riley and I went for a walk…
As we arrived at the farmers market, Joe Swartz (the manager of Swartz Family Farm, which is right around the corner) had a warm welcome for Riley, who he knows by name (he then said hello to me). We love the salad greens offered by Sarah and Joe Swartz, who grow entirely without pesticides.
At J & J Farms we said hello to Laura and bought some sweet corn (that was grown within a mile of the market) and then a few homemade dog biscuits from Leigh’s Mixing Bowl of Haydenville. Leigh, who stopped to play with Riley, learned to bake from her grandmother Irene (I don’t know if Grandma is responsible for the dog biscuit recipe, but Riley surely appreciated the biscuits and the attention).
My wife Phyl (who stopped by while running errands) bought some local maple syrup from Parkers Sugar House, which is just over the New Hampshire line, for our son and daughter-in-law who we will visit this month in Colorado (we try to give locally produced gifts, whenever possible). And finally I had a nice conversation with my friend Mary Hager (who also is the best web designer I know) about how to cook a goat!
I came home a little less depressed and well stocked with local food. Maybe I’ll see you at the market next Saturday! We can talk about the debt crisis, how to cook sweet corn and maybe even about how to raise your own hens!
Check out a few of my pictures from the market. And if you can’t make it to North Amherst on Saturday morning, don’t forget the Wednesday afternoon market at Kendrick Park or the Downtown Market on Saturday.
Lots of good food – and maybe a touch of democracy and community!