It does a body good
Have you ever stopped in the midst of dinner and wondered: Where did this food come from?
Yeah, you undoubtedly purchased it from a local grocery store and slaved over the stove for hours preparing it. Perhaps you pray and thank god for blessing you with the wonderful bounty before digging in. But beyond that, what do we know of our food -- where was it planted and harvested; what was it fed and under what conditions did it live?
In most cases we know next to nothing about our food. Perhaps ignorance is bliss after all? Or do you find this a bit unsettling?
Maybe it's both. But one thing's for sure: the world of mass production and mass consumption is slowly giving way to grassroots efforts to create local, sustainable alternatives to purchase food and other commodities. The popularity and growth of our farmers markets is evidence of this.
Amidst a technology-crazed world that seems to be moving further from personal connections with each click of the mouse and every text message sent, we can't help but yearn for closer contact with each other -- real, face-to-face interactions. In this same vein, we believe most people would like to establish a stronger relationship to the food they feed their families. They want to know the folks who provide them with the food, too.
It actually used to be this way.
About 35 years ago, one Westport couple recalled, their milk used to be delivered to their front door by Stew Leonard himself. He would produce the milk at his Connecticut farm and drive from house to house, placing the glass bottles in milk boxes that were a staple outside most homes during the time.
Each week, when Mr. Leonard drove up to the house, the couple's children would run to the window to catch a glimpse of their friendly milk man, and to hear the big, fake cow on top of the truck belt out a nice loud "Moooo."
"The kids loved it," the woman said.
They may not have known it at the time, but the kids were also establishing a direct connection to their food. Children today haven't had this opportunity.
Because the days of the milk man are now distant memories for some and entirely lost on younger generations, we must make a concerted effort to connect with our food sources. And, fortunately, we don't have to travel too far.
Just last week, after years of planning, a vision of sustainability came to life in Westport when the community celebrated the opening of Wakeman Farm on Cross Highway.
The project is the work of Westport GVI Town Farm, Inc., a newly-formed independent nonprofit that has leased the historic property from the Town of Westport. The.goal, according to GVI's website, is for the farm to become a model facility that will educate and inspire the community with local healthy food production, responsible land stewardship, sustainable practices and community/service orientation. Activities will include growing fruits and vegetables, demonstrating /teaching best practices for food generation and preservation, and providing a farm stand.
Westport is not alone in this initiative. Fairfield has also planted the roots of sustainability in its soil.
With approval from town boards, the Fairfield Organic Teaching Farm will pursue its mission to celebrate Fairfield's agrarian roots by redefining the community for the 21st century through sustainable agriculture and responsible environmental stewardship. According to the farm's website, projects that would be pursued include bee-keeping; maple sugaring; pressing apple cider; medicinal herbs, their use and application; organic eggs from heritage chickens; food and manure composting; pie making; and food, seed preservation and organic seedlings for spring planting. The farm would also become a center for town events and seasonally-inspired activities including hay rides, BBQs, pumpkin picking, quilting and wreath-making. For more information on this, visit www.fairfieldorganicteachingfarm.org
While contemplating your dinner's origins may not be the most appetizing thought -- especially in the midst of eating -- it's important that we become more conscious about our entire world, and that includes food. In the future, hopefully the thought of your food's origins will be a positive one again, like it was for the Westport family and their friendly milk man.