Start today, opt out of processed and go local

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2014 12:30 am
By Tessa Edick
For Columbia-Greene Media


I’ve never quite fancied myself a writer, but after inviting you monthly to join me on a food journey profiling Hudson Valley family farms and inviting you to meet your farmer — I had questions — so I wrote a book.


It’s a resource guide and a better way to think about eating. It’s a food formula we all can choose to follow. It celebrates the farmer and fosters local economies that connect community and commerce to what we eat, the people that work mighty hard to feed us and supporting the future of food — our youth.


It’s a commitment to eating local and sustainable practices that family farms offer and our food dollars support. We choose what to eat and from where. We choose how we allocate our earned dollars to consume the single most important thing we need: food. And we must demand that our farmers are paid a fair living wage to feed us by paying the cost necessary to produce food responsibly and deliver it to our tables.


If we start today and opt out of the consumption of over processed, under nourished and super-unsatisfying business of food filled with mass market factory minded quasi food and slick Madison Avenue packaging that tells you what isn’t in the food instead of what you want (nutrient dense and fresh!) we have a chance to ambush the big business of food just with our everyday choices from sources we trust that distribute their bounty to your table directly at farmers markets, retail shelves and CSA farm shares everywhere.


The choice is ours. What’s so hard about that?


It’s a shift in thinking, in lifestyle (visit a farm!) and a reinforcement of wellness and opportunity for our health and the health of our children. And it tastes better, too.


“Hudson Valley Food & Farming: Why Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell Me That?” (on stands nationwide Nov. 11) is a book that begs for the truth and transparency in food through the stories of family farms. It’s a look into our agrarian past and the future of food. It’s a challenge to ask what are you eating beyond “organic” and “healthy” as buzz words on packaging and demands answers to questions we all want to know.


Living in a dairy farming community — local milk is an entry-way to better food. Proximity to the source of fresh food maximizes nutrition and gives the body a shot at optimizing: to satisfy hunger (and not overeat), to prevent illness (strong immunity) and have a cycle of energy and rest to look and feel great. Plus it brings economic development to agricultural communities like ours.


Why wouldn’t you eat local?


It’s not too expensive.


It’s not inconvenient.


Nutrition tastes better, too.


The goodness that comes from eating fresh food, mostly plants and food that is not full of chemicals, fillers and pesticides and depleted of nutrition is truly life changing.


And IT IS a joyful experience.


Food education and farm preservation are vital to sustainable food ways, better health and overall wellness. And the kids will LOVE you for it, too.


Raise your replacement — just by eating local. It allows your farmer’s kids to feed your kids, too. As the Amish saying goes, “We do not inherit the land from our elders; we borrow it from our children.”


Excerpt from chapter one of “Hudson Valley’s Legacy of Farming”:


“The Hudson Valley is famous for landscapes, light and agriculture. It represents everything we love about America — hardworking people, fertile land, a river that roams from the countryside to the city yielding a breadbasket, innovation and fresh air that shapes the freedom we demand. The meadows, the hills, the fields, the orchards and the mountains bend along the Hudson River and inspire people to be responsible and cultivate honest food and explore the best the Hudson River Valley offers.


For four centuries, the Hudson Valley has served up some of the country’s most coveted vegetables, fruit, grain, dairy, meat, poultry and spirits from heritage seed and fertile soil, and America has responded in kind, making it one of the most beautiful destinations in the world-a treasure along the Taconic-with delectable bites, breathtaking scenery and a pioneer spirit that is tough to replicate and impossible to fake. Like our European ancestors, the key to America’s heart is our stomach.


Locally sourced, honestly made, farm-fresh food has commanded attention in the Hudson River Valley region again in the last decade. And not just that: it has reinvigorated farming with more farmers’ markets, farm stands, community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs and farm-to-table restaurants that demand pastured meats, artisanal handcrafted recipes and food farmed with best practice in mind, be it organic, biodynamic or responsibly grown. The delicious changes have all been made with one goal in mind: to satisfy taste buds and fuel our bodies with nutrition from the fertile land that connects us to seed and soil.


I wrote this book to celebrate and honor the farmers who are still managing to feed our hungry region without selling their principles, values or souls to the highest Big Agra bidder. These are folks who greet the crack of dawn with a smile, because they’ve already been up for hours milking cows, tending their pigs and touching the literal fruits of their labor in the fields.


Hudson Valley farmers are fighting an uphill battle: unpredictable weather and severe price competition inflicted by Big Agra and Big Box stores. In an environment of economic uncertainty with pressure from land developers, the region has been the tenth-most threatened agricultural region in America as far back as 1997. But at the turn of the twenty-first century, farmers started taking direct action to take back their fields and wallets, on their own terms.


Despite the wrenching changes of the last century, vestiges of the Hudson Valley’s pastoral heritage have endured. Hudson was the first chartered city in the United States and is surrounded by trees of every kind. It is known for its apple orchards-of the heirloom variety-which are planted on the rolling hills that have yielded nearly half of all bushels produced every year in New York state for four hundred years.”


“So what can I do?” is the common refrain I hear every day throughout my work building my own educational farm and working with chefs, legislators and food activists who are trying to promote a more just and sustainable food shed.


The problem seems so grand, so sprawling, so overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong: it is. But the solution is surprisingly simple: meet your farmer. Farmers are the real celebrities in food. They are our tried-and-true American heroes! They should be the heartthrobs on tractors we should be drooling over and begging for autographs from their food shows.


These food stars I call “Starmers” hold the keys to our hearts, stomachs and food future with the health of our children and theirs in their hands and the hooves of their animals. The American farming family is the vista to our future. Support them every day by eating local.


Get your FarmOn! Start today. It’s the least you can do.


To contact the author, email tessa@


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