We recently read an article about the economics of family farms in the U.S. One result of our journey towards Thailand is a more acute awareness of how each decision that we make impacts someone else achieving their own good life. This plays out in many areas, but what has been on our minds most recently is our decisions about food. The above article reveals that most small farms struggle, at best, to make ends meet. When asking myself, “Why?”, I realized that most of us are accustomed to paying unreasonably low prices for food. Due to farm subsidies for large scale farms, GMO crops, underpaid field-hands, and imported crops all lead us to believe that food should be really cheap! So when I go to my local farmer’s market and a dozen eggs are $7.25, I feel indignant. I might buy a few pieces of fruit for the “experience”, but I would never consider doing my “real” grocery shopping there.
This way of thinking is beginning to change for us. Our priorities are shifting from saving as much money as possible on food to buying higher quality food, grown by people who are paid a fair wage. We believe that we have been given a Good Life in order that others may experience the Good Life as well. This sounds preachy, but for this week, it just meant that the kids and I went to our local farmer’s market and actually did some real grocery shopping. I set out with $40 and came home with 1 bunch of rainbow carrots, 2 hass avocados, 3 Zucchini, 3 baskets of strawberries, 5 lbs of oranges, 1 large head of cauliflower, 1 lb of mushrooms, 1 dozen eggs, 1 pound of dates, and 16 oz of Kombucha. The kids and I had a lot of fun taste-testing, interacting with the vendors and selecting from the colorful options. Little B even tried to get away with an extra bunch of carrots while strapped to my back, unbeknownst to me.
Here’s a picture from yesterday’s dinner: cauliflower and rainbow carrots from the La Mesa farmer’s Market and radishes from our garden (grated together in the food processor). By the time I was done sauteing them, the entire dish was a lovely purple (black carrots have a strong dying effect, much like a beet). This was an unexpected, but fun result. The kids ate it (once they were assured it wasn’t cabbage) and enjoyed it. I served chicken baked in salsa and then sauteed with mushrooms (also a market purchase) over the rice.
Our family wants to follow the underlying principle of the Hippocratic oath: at the very least, do no harm. As we have done research on human trafficking and slavery, we have found that we, as the consumer, have a lot of power. We can vote with our money to impact how companies choose to do business. We want to use the money that we have been given to effect a positive change for others. The cool thing is that the effect on our own family has been a new found joy and appreciation for the food we eat. If you don’t have a farmer’s market to visit, you can also join a local CSA (community supported agriculture). The decisions we make with our money have the power to change our world. We can save money in the short term while doing harm to ourselves and others, or we can choose to spend a little more on food that is grown responsibly and reap a harvest of benefit for all.