The Thanksgiving holiday rolled around out of nowhere this year. Having traveled much of the month of November, by the time I returned it was already time to plan the feast and prepare the supplies. After visiting a rural self contained farming community while traveling, I came home with an even deeper gratitude for my local farming community.
This year Thanksgiving was about community. Part of what I love most about the local food movement, and what I’m most thankful for, is how it ties me closer into my community. But the local farm community is in dire need of support. The New York Times wrote that it's faced with unending obstacles.
[O]nly 22 percent of beginning farmers turn a profit their first year. The National Young Farmers’ Coalition found that 73 percent of young farmers must work away from the farm; Mr. Book, a father of four, works 40 hours a week at a farm store.
It’s the demand for cheap food that’s killing our small farmers, according to the article. And the idea that we should be able to have what we want when we want it. And this is especially true around the holiday season.
Not only is it making it difficult for family farms to compete with large scale factory farms, it’s making it difficult for young farmers to get into the game because the cost of land has sky rocketed. “From 2000 to 2010, the price of farmland doubled nationwide, to $2,140 per acre from $1,090.“
We have to change our relationship with food in order to support our farming communities. It's not about what you can't have, but all the delicious seasonal foods that you can have.
In Animal, Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, each family member was allowed to have one food item that you couldn’t find locally so I decided this seemed a good set of rules for our Thanksgiving feast. Mine was coffee and my husband’s was olive oil--both items that are difficult for me to part with by any stretch, especially when hosting a Thanksgiving extravaganza. My niece chose chocolate and my mother curry spice.
Our choices were all meant to show that your buying power does make a difference. The more we champion the cause of the small farmer, the more small farms we will have to support.