Getting some dirt under our fingernails

These past few weeks I’ve been dividing my time 3 ways: my own spring cleaning, assisting friends plot out their personal garden beds and preparing for the seminar I’ll be holding at the Telegraph’s Total Women’s Showcase in the Nashua Radisson hotel on April 23rd at 5:30pm. I’ll be speaking on Managing Your Personal W.E.A.L.T.H. (wellness, emotions, assets, leadership, time, happiness) and so taking personal responsibility and asking the right questions are topics that have been in the forefront of my mind.

To me, taking responsibility means making the most of our ability to respond the best way possible, like getting some dirt under our fingernails. This is what we do when we choose to plant a garden or buy local, it’s the choices we make of where to work and where to play, whether to eat at home or hit the drive thru. After all, our lives are the sum of our choices… and everything is a choice!

In order to make the best choices, are we as individuals and as a nation asking the right questions?

For instance, here in America, food is cheap; but is it healthy?

I’d say the low cost of food is only an apparent benefit when we consider that the U.S. has the highest healthcare costs in the world.  There is clearly a correlation between cheap nutrient-deficient food produced industrially and ever increasing health costs.  These high health costs could be reduced by greater use of nutrient-rich, health-promoting food that is primarily available from local farms or our own gardens.  We are no longer eating food grown in rich, living soil as we were a century ago in this country, when the farmer’s primary line of questioning was, ‘How do I keep my soil vital and alive so it can produce a healthful nutrient-rich bounty of food?’

Today, industrial farming pretty much reduces that to very simple chemical compositions such as PKN (Phosphorus, Potassium, Nitrogen) which you will see in your fertilizer stores. Big Industry is asking questions beyond ‘How do we get the plant to grow? How do we get the color?’  More important questions for mega farms are, ‘How do we engineer the seeds and plant stocks to survive extremely long truck journeys, to be picked before they are ripe, to be stored in warehouses, and finally to last a long time on grocery store shelves?’

Now I am not a chemist or scientist, but based on my personal research,  I believe that industrial food processing, which uses reconstituted corn and soy and fills the center aisles of grocery stores, giving these foods a shelf life of generations, is not a responsible practice. I also believe that health epidemics can be linked to industrial farming and mechanized low cost food production. They may have vitamins and some micronutrients injected, but the food itself is not the living nutrient-rich foods from living soil.

As consumers, I think we should ask the question: ‘How often do we make choices based on appearance? How often do we believe all the marketing?’

We vote with our checkbooks and our forks. What you eat affects you and  the community where you live; economically, socially and culturally. Are we voting for transparency, sustainability and healthy communities?

Here’s the good news – focusing on being responsible with our choices and opting for local food bypasses ideological, political, gender, and age related differences.  Local food and local economy is not about left or right, it’s not about liberal or conservative, it’s not about the wealthy or poor, it’s not about Democrat or GOP, it’s not old or young. Food, like air and water,  is something we depend on to live, and something we have traditionally all centered our lives around as part of celebrating the seasons. It really does transcend our differences.