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Buying Local: One Way to Stand Up Against GMOs

Getting to be that time of year for farm stands across the state to reopen with a whole new crop of seasonal favorites and local products that are both tasty and healthful and still grown as nature intended.

You’ve heard us preach before about the invasion of GMO foodstuffs that now crowd our grocery shelves and are crowding out anything that comes with its original genetic structure.

Oh sure, the Monsantos of the world tout GMO as the answer to the farmer’s prayers and the consumer’s lust for good-looking produce. But what they don’t tell you is that the industry is largely self-regulated and attempts to pass nationwide labeling laws (as many developed countries already have done) have been largely ignored, as the fruits of this industry seem to include generous campaign contributions.

Of course, we’ve got a dog in this fight, so I might as well be up front about the whole deal: We’re afraid of GMOs, mostly because the genetic structures of natural fruits and vegetables were developed over the millennium through natural selection and Mother Nature’s wisdom. So … it just seems a bit arrogant to think that we can muck around with the formula without fear of consequence. Also, the natural seed pool is being leached away by corporate attempts to replace the time tested varieties with the genetically altered varieties we increasingly have no choice but to buy (just try to find anything corn- or soy-based that isn’t GMO).

Anyway, enough with the lecture. Being natural farmers here at the Dimond Hill Farm we are on the front lines of trying to preserve naturally grown fruit and vegetable varieties and with marketing them directly to the consumer … which is you. And we’re not the only ones. Small farms and farm stands across the state and the country are beginning to thrive by offering the kinds of meats, produce and products that supermarkets have all but left behind … the natural kind.

And our customers are becoming more tuned in to what’s going into their meals and their bodies, and in increasing numbers they are seeking out fresh food that is locally grown and naturally raised. This puts you, too, on the front lines with us. By standing up against GMO farm practices we can hopefully get the government to listen to demands for labeling laws, and by refusing to buy GMO products altogether, we can, perhaps, take some of the power out of the hands of the Monsantos of the world.

This desire to know where our food comes from and just what’s in it is a growing trend nationwide, and things aren’t much different here in good ole New Hampshire. To that end, we are going to borrow a page from David Letterman’s playbook, here, and present our own Top Ten List for reasons to buy locally grown food (compiled with some help from the US Agriculture Department and Mercola.com, the world’s top Natural Health Website).

Number 10: Locally grown food just tastes better. Several studies show that the average distance between field and dinner plate is more than 1,500 miles. Food grown much closer to home usually has been picked during the past day or two, which translates into crisp, sweat and flavorful meals.

Number 9:  Local produce is more healthy produce. Once fresh produce is picked it begins to lose its nutrient value fairly quickly. Food purchased soon after harvest retain much of its nutrient value.

Number 8: Local food preserves genetic diversity. The way modern industrial farms work, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand the rigors of mechanical harvesting, packaging and long-distance transport. Thus, the focus is on the few crops that meet these criteria. However, local farms grow a much larger variety in order to provide a long harvest season, an array of eye-catching colors, and the best flavors.

Number 7: Local food is GMO-free. This we’ve already talked about. While big commercial farms deal almost exclusively with GMO seeds, local farms don’t have the same access to or interest in GMO production.

Number 6: Local food supports local family farms. With fewer than 1 million Americans now listing farming as their primary occupation, farmers are a vanishing breed. Local farmers sell directly to the consumer, cutting out the middle man and getting full retail price for their crops. They also preserve local food sources, which leaves the rest of us less dependent on corporate farming production and practices.

Number 5: Local food builds stronger communities. Buying directly from the farmer preserves the time-honored connection between those who grow the food and those who eat it.

Number 4: Local food preserves open space. We’ve all seen the local landscape transition as large family farms have been sold off for development of housing or industry. Just think of what Dimond Hill might look like if Jane had caved into pressure to sell much of the land off as house lots? The more we can do to help farms become financially viable, the more likely it is that we can preserve the rural landscapes we all enjoy.

Number 3: Local food helps to keep your taxes in check. Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in local services … unlike many suburban developments, which often cost more to service than they contribute in property taxes.

Number 2: Local food supports a clean environment and benefits wildlife. Farmers are good stewards of the land … they have to be because that is where they make their living. Fertile soil and clean water are valued, and the efforts trickle down to contribute to a cleaner and safer environment.

And … the Number 1 reason to buy local is: Local food is about the future. By supporting local farmers today, you can help to ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow. Preserving these local food sources is important to the health and security future generations will enjoy.

Well, likely more than you wanted to read about, but there you go. I never did know when to shut up. Especially when talking about a subject we all are so passionate about up here at the Dimond Hill Farm. The farm stand is set to open around the end of May, so come on up and give us a look see. At the very least, you’ll be able to visit and wander around an iconic 19th century family farm, and, hopefully, you’ll discover a resource for healthy, flavorful foods that will both enrich your diet and wake up those taste buds.

The New Hampshire Agriculture Department has published a list of local farms and farm stands. Click here to get a peek at the list, or go to:  http://agriculture.nh.gov/publications-forms/documents/farm-stand-directory.pdf

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