by Jim Hightower
It's soon to be Thanksgiving Day. Have you hugged a farmer yet?
Actually, we need to do a lot more than hug those family farmers who bring us such a bounty of good food, for they've become endangered species in the Brave New AgWorld of industrialized, conglomeratized and globalized food production that our policy makers are pushing. Thanks to such policies, those who till the soil are productive, efficient...and broke!
They're being forced out of business by corporate profiteers. The price of everything from seeds to crop loans keeps going up, while the price farmers are paid for their commodities keeps going down. Few consumers know it, but very little of what you and I spend on food goes to the farmer. Out of each dollar we spend, farmers now get only 19 cents, with monopolistic middlemen like ADM, Cargill, McDonalds, Monsanto, Philip Morris, Tyson and Wal-Mart grabbing an ever-larger share.
But the good news is that we don't have to buy-in to the self-serving manipulative system of the monopolists. Instead, there's a growing mass movement among consumers, small farmers, entrepreneurs, communities, and others to take back control of our food economy and food culture by focusing on locally grown foods. Farmers markets, for example, are flourishing, with some 2,800 of them across America, involving nearly 20,000 farmers selling in all kinds of neighborhoods to hundreds of thousands of consumers. There are also community garden projects, farm stands and other direct farmer-to-consumer marketing outlets, as well as more and more grocers and restaurants proudly offering food fresh off local farms.
Check out these connections for everything from free-range turkey to organic tomatoes. Buying locally means you can get better food at cheaper prices, but it also means that the money you spend stays in your community and supports a revitalized family-farm economy.
To connect to markets near you, go to this website: www.localharvest.org. (In the greater Kansas City area, contact the Food Circle at 816-374-5899 or visit www.foodcircles.missouri.edu for a directory of local organic and natural food producers.)
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Lets Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com.
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