I recently entertained some friends and, when complimented on the meal, made reference to “My farmer …” My friend Allison held up her hand to stop me mid-sentence. “Wait a minute,” she said. “… Your farmer?”
I explained that we order most of our food directly from a local organic farmer who offers up grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork, duck and turkey, fruits and veggies in season, along with raw milk cheese, various nuts and many other pantry staples — all organically grown and humanely raised.
Allison shook her head in mock dismay. “How is it, she demanded, hands on hips, “that I don’t have a farmer? I have a trainer, a decorator, a therapist … I must get a farmer!”
I couldn’t agree more. We all need a farmer. Someone who looks us in the eye when she tells us how she feeds her animals (or, rather, how the animals feed themselves!), how she can’t offer eggs this week because the free-range hens have laid the eggs somewhere she can’t find them, how she won’t use toxic chemicals to clean her barns and instead relies on hydrogen peroxide, how she feeds her own family the same food she’s offering mine …
My farmer and I discuss such issues as humane slaughter and what, exactly, that means. She educates me on “good fat” and how our North American paranoia about fat is making us less healthy, not more. She gives me recipe tips — a filet mignon roast cooked over her homemade liverwurst is pure heaven, nutrition information and even child-rearing tips (her own kids are grown). She delivers right to my door and makes a fascinating guest at our parties.
But having my own farmer isn’t just some trendy eco thing. What we put on our plates is, arguably, the most important step we take toward the health of not only our families, but our planet (as if the two are separate!). Eating food grown close to your home and to organic standards (whether or not they’re actually certified as such), reducing the amount of meat we eat, choosing meat from humanely raised and pasture-fed animals, and limiting our ingestion of packaged and processed foods goes a long way toward reducing your carbon footprint. Michael Pollan still says it best: “Eat real food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” What he also says in many different ways: Get your own farmer!
Allison did indeed get a farmer — and bragging rights, which she’s fully enjoying, regarding her own family’s increased health, pleasure in eating and contribution to saving the planet.
If you want to be the first on your block to have your own farmer, ask around at farmer’s markets or online at localharvest.org