We’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving, a day focused on food for most Americans, an excessive amount for some, and barely enough for others who hopefully are getting some help from food banks, food pantries, churches and the like.
Food has been my passion since I was a child, but my current passion for good food as well as the issues intersecting with food little resemble my food tastes from childhood. Food wasn’t making often-scary headlines then as now. And now it’s easier to see the links between food and most other areas of public life: the economy, environment, climate change, energy, education, and both personal and public health.
Earlier in my career, I wrote about food from the perspective of a health-minded eater and cook, when people were less concerned about what they ate and the choices were fewer. No one was talking about cholesterol, genetically modified organisms, trans fats or gluten-free foods.
This year I’ve been getting an even broader education in food, from field to table, while helping with research for a CSA cookbook due out in 2013. I’ve been interviewing Oregon and Washington farmers, mostly family farmers who use organic practices and work very hard growing good food to feed their customers through a Community Supported Agriculture program. A CSA helps ensure cash flow for the farmer and offers CSA members wonderfully fresh, well-priced produce and sometimes, eggs, flowers, grains and more. As I’ve listened to the stories of farmers—urban, rural, new farmers and veteran farmers, young and old (one of them 75 years old), men and women—I’ve developed tremendous appreciation for their hard work and for the people who are supporting their CSA programs.
Much work needs to be done to reform our food system, increase access to good food, improve food safety and more, but at this time of Thanksgiving, I am truly grateful for the farmers tending their fields and animals so we can put locally or regionally grown food on our tables.
If you’re interested in stories about food and farming that you’re not likely to find in the mainstream media, have a look at Grist. Meet some Oregon farmers and read about current issues in Oregon farming on the website of Friends of Family Farmers. I’ll share some other good information resources over time.