It’s always a great idea to connect with your local food system. Personally, I don’t think it’s ever been as important in our lifetime as it is right now. We are currently at a crossroads of independence and dependence when it comes to the nourishment of humankind. We’ve moved from a period of time only a few generations ago when most people knew almost everything about their food including how to grow it, how to kill it, how to harvest it, store it and how to prepare it for optimal digestion and nutrition availability to the present time where we find ourselves in precarious food security pickle! Most folks have slowly learned to trust and depend on giant supermarkets for their food security. Today, the vast majority of people haven’t the foggiest clue of how and where the food they consume was grown and harvested, how it’s production impacts the ecosystem, let alone – how to do it themselves. Given the enormous amount of illness and dis-ease caused by the scarcity of truly real food coupled with the over consumption of corporate junk food products that claim to be food – but ARE NOT – it is obvious, we are at a tipping point regarding the wellbeing of humanity.
There’s just something that feels intrinsically right about knowing where and how your food is produced. It boils down to the fundamental human need. Food; just like water, clean air, shelter and connecting with others – is essential for us to thrive. Conversely, the ability to thrive and adapt is merely impossible if it’s supply or quality is threatened or manipulated in any way. Today, there is no doubt that our food supply isn’t as safe and secure as it once was. Both supply and quality of food is manipulated more than it has been at any time in the last several generations. I’m not being pessimistic either. I’m simply analyzing the true reality about our current food and health predicament we find ourselves in – and how it has dramatically changed over the past few generations.
I believe that if our goal is to thrive in life then it behooves us as humans to be in control and within arms reach of the fundamental necessities of life. Thus, not to give up control of the most valuable things in life. As it pertains to food – it is the control of our food supply and quality that matters. Alas, we have managed to do just that. The vast majority of food retail is now controlled by a very small number of giant companies and food supply is primarily managed by huge government controlled monopolies and regulated by food policies that merely prevent food sovereignty. The general public is no longer at arms length to his or her primary food source as we once were, and this has put everyone in grave danger.
How did we get ourselves into such a pickle anyway?
Just a few generations ago – our grandparents and great grandparents had much more control over their food supply and quality than most people today. Our elders didn’t have the so-called “luxury” of going to a giant supermarket to acquire eggs, pork chops, vegetables and cheese. They simply bought it from the local butcher shop, baker, farmer’s market or bought it directly from the farmer. Heck, most people used to actually grow their own garden and preserved their own food. People bought or traded for raw ingredients and prepared foods themselves at home rather than buying a processed and prepared food. They knew what a crock pot and a butter churn was. They knew how to make sourdough and kraut and bake their own bread. It was a good system for many reasons, but the most important reason is that as a consumer they had a high level of confidence in food security because they had a direct connection to the producers themselves. They also had the valuable skills that were passed on to them from their elders. The food system was essentially decentralized, which means that it was not heavily controlled or manipulated by a large entity or group of organizations such as governments or large corporations. “Food” has become BIG BUSINESS over the last 100 years or so. In 2020 the food retail industry surpassed $100B dollars in Canada. And that’s not including restaurant sales. It has been growing over 2% per year over the last 10 years in a row. Five massive corporations command over 70% of retail grocery sales in Canada! The reality of modern food is that the local farmer, local baker, local butcher shop or backyard garden has all but disappeared and substituted for mass grocery and corporate food. The affects of this change is how food is obtained by consumers have been disastrous in many ways, from poor health caused by the rise in consumption of poor quality food, the demise of small farms caused by the disappearance of local food demand, negative environmental impacts from destructive agricultural practices that are driven by high production rather than high quality, but none as significant as the massive disconnection that has been created as a result of losing touch with the very food source that gives us our freedom and independence. We are now at a tipping point when it comes to food security. People are more vulnerable than ever before. The skills to acquire, produce, prepare and store quality food have been entrusted to international corporations and governments rather than communities and neighbors.
It’s no secret that both food quality and food supply has been increasingly manipulated over the last several decades. Huge corporations have taken over the majority of “food” production. In Canada for instance, it is illegal for dairy producers to produce and sell milk outside the “supply management” monopoly called the dairy board of Canada. It’s also “illegal” to sell raw milk, which has been the way humans have consumed milk (and thrived) for thousands of years prior to massive food supply and quality regulations implemented by Canada’s control hungry government. In the egg and poultry industry another food supply management organization exists which lines the pockets of a few massive producers, the board members and gives governments a way to funnel stimulus money and easily manipulate supply. These massive intensive poultry facilities are no doubt state of the art in modern technology, but couldn’t be any further from environmental sustainability. This system has created a network of mega intensive poultry factories that can be easily manipulated by government regulation and funding. This irresponsible system also poses a massive risk in food security as the food supply of poultry is easily and quickly manipulated if something like a “virus” is detected or if governments want to create a supply increase or decrease through regulatory policy. There are many examples of this over the years. Large factory farms have been ordered to “destroy” tens of thousands of animals as a mere precaution to supposedly ‘protect’ people from a health threat. My point is this; the threat of massive food shortages is real, and it’s not in the control of the majority of people, but rather – a select few corporate food companies and government policy. Food security is at risk and most people aren’t prepared with the skills and knowledge to deal with it. This situation we find ourselves in wouldn’t exist if we stopped using the corporate food system (grocery stores) as much and started truly supporting the local food system.
With ever increasing uncertainty regarding almost everything in our lives over the past year – it’s likely that food security has crossed your mind a few times. Especially if you rely on corporate grocery stores for your food supply. When government headlines that spread fear and panic across the country blanket the newspapers, the internet and radio broadcasts for months – you can be sure we are in for a bumpy ride ahead.
Food shortages have been a significant issue across many countries over the past several months, but the threat of the imminent food shortages have finally reached our so-called “food secure country”. Fear is a strong emotion for the government to play around with. I believe it should be reserved for an individual to decide what should or shouldn’t be scary, but governments seems to think it’s their right to fearmonger and restrict people’s lives to the brink of emotional collapse. Two fundamental necessities of life are currently being threatened by governments and centralized global controlling organizations; Connecting with others and Food. History shows us that when governments gain the ability to dictate control of any of the primary human needs, let alone two of them – there are tough times ahead.
Understanding where your food really comes from
The modern corporate grocery store is convenient indeed, but shopping there results in quite the opposite of truly supporting local and building a secure local food system. Grocery corporations try to convince shoppers they are buying from local farms with clever marketing giving the illusion of supporting local, but what ends up in the grocery cart is almost always weighted heavily with industrially produced “food like” substances that have nothing to do with the loving, local food community at all. As a result, the vast majority of your grocery budget ends up supporting the food manufacturing giants such as Nestlé, Pepsico, Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International (previously Kraft Foods), and Unilever…oh and also lines the pockets of the mega retail supermarkets like Walmart, Loblaws and Sobeys.
Sure, the modern grocery store offers the “staples” such as meat, veggies, fruits, grains and dairy products. But almost all of them come from industrial factory farms that do not have your HEALTH (your adaptability and resilience) in mind at all. Many factory foods are laden with chemicals and pesticides proven to cause harm in addition to being genetically modified to grow in ways that mother nature desperately resists. It is rare that a shopper actually knows the producer of the food being purchased. As people have become increasingly dependent on grocery stores for their food purchases rather than the local farmer or producer, it has lead to the demise and decimation of small farms in Canada (and around the world). Less local demand has forced local food producers to convert their energy and resources elsewhere. The mass production of industrial factory-style food production has taken over in a sense from local food producers on a quest to funnel the money away from local real food producers to a few multi-national corporate giants who now control much of the worlds food supply in various ways. The modern grocery stores are the outlet that facilitates and allows mass factory production of food to thrive.
It was only a few short decades ago when most people obtained the majority of their foods locally be it from a local market, a local farmer, butcher shop or their own garden. Most foods were grown without many of the modern pesticides, they were not genetically modified and they were produced by people you either knew personally or at least knew of. I believe the consequences of this disconnection of eaters and their true source of food coupled with the resulting outflow of money from local communities and into the hands of giant multinational organizations and corporate giants who now control most of the world’s food through either production, supply, or transportation is the root cause of the current health epidemic. A Health Epidemic in my opinion is the lack of the ability to adapt and thrive as a community. We are at a point in history when people are more dependent than ever before when it comes to their health. It is no coincidence that people are sicker than ever before. But isn’t it peculiar that with that we are have been told by the corporations and government institutions for the past several decades that they will “end hunger” and “cure disease” for the population. That my friends is impossible for governments corporations and power hungry giants. The answer to hunger and disease lies in the empowering dynamic of a healthy small community that can be largely self sufficient. The small local farm that puts countless hours into caring for their animals, gardens, fields and orchards will almost always have superior quality products. That’s because they care. The local farmer has his reputation on the line and truly cares about the smile on his customers’ faces.
There are several reasons why local, responsibly produced food is the answer to a thriving community and overall food security, but one of the most powerful is the basic nutrition. Whether it’s grass finished beef, pastured poultry, organic grains, organically raised eggs or raw milk rather than pasteurized – it’s all superior in nutrient density than the industrial factory produced version that you find in the supermarket. So whether you agree with my take on the power of decentralized food production or not, you’ll be better off buying local from a nutrition perspective either way.
Personally, I take food security and self-sufficiency very seriously and it is a very pertinent topic as we enter these uncertain times. I encourage everyone to explore the local food sources in your area. You’ll be amazed at the joy it can bring to you and your family when you find great sources of amazing local food directly from the source. I implore you to grow a garden, harvest and store your own seeds, hunt and fish with great respect of mother nature and be connected to others in your community in every way possible.
By Rick Kohut, regenerative farmer, holistic health practitioner, freedom fighter