I grew up on a cattle farm in the hills of Virginia (US). We raised our own beef and had a gigantic garden to grow beans, tomatoes and the like in summer and we had grapevines and a modest orchard for fruit. I wouldn't say that we were self-sustaining (with 4 kids, mom spent a fortune at the grocery store), but we knew where food came from. And we knew what was good and tasty from what wasn't.
As an adult living in London now, I struggle with the question of whether or organic is worth the price. Ultimately, my early research (8 years ago?) came to the conclusion that most organic farms weren't truly organic and the food they produced didn't taste any different--so, the benefits didn't seem balanced against the cost (at the time an organic chicken cost £20 while a stock standard one cost £7). So, I voted with my palette and pay check opted for non-organic meats and produce.
Skip forward 8 years and I think I'm a bit older and, hopefully, wiser. Our bees are dying. Wildflowers are dwindling. The tasty fruit and veg we get from the online delivery service says it's shipped from Guatemala, South Africa, Tanzania, Mexico...maybe it's time to reconsider the question of organic or not. Last year, I gave Able & Cole a go and loved their cookbook brimming with creative ideas for how to use the stuff in the box. The produce was high quality, but didn't taste any better than usual. I stopped the boxes after 1 go.
Skip ahead a year and we've adopted a 90 year old grandad (our parents and grandparents are an ocean away). Knowing I grew up on a farm in Virginia, he suggested that I look into Joel Salatin--a savvy Virginia farmer who's changing minds and modernising farming practises.
As a farm girl at heart, I've been bingeing on Joel's videos lately and I've had a change of heart. What's more important than the food we eat? Perhaps the water we drink and how we occupy our minds are close contenders, but we are what we eat. And, ultimately, we'd all benefit from buying our food from local, small-scale farmers...and the cost difference between big box retailer grocery delivery and small organic local producer is likely to amount to no more than the cost of a single long-haul plane ticket.
Now, for the tedious research to figure out who best to go to for quality where we live (Dulwich/Herne Hill). Any ideas?
For those like me who'd like to geek out on farming videos, have a look here. Joel's farm has been featured in books and in highly publicised shows like Food, Inc. Though I'm not a farmer, Joel's becoming a rockstar to me and I'm hoping to visit Polyface farms near Staunton with my dad this summer--if you ever find yourself in Virginia, you can do the same--schedule a tour! Maybe he'll convince you to become a farmer :)
Kimberly is the founder of Bumble Box, she blogs about issues facing British parents and their children.
Bumble Box family activity kits are designed to bring families together. We catch animals' footprints in the sand, give the trees a shake to see what's living in there, host a Family Olympics, plant a fairy garden, race homemade boats in the stream...you get the drift. Together, we'll make it through your family-time bucket list.
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