February 25, 2011
By Trista Cornelius, Contributing Writer
It's sort of, almost, spring, even though it's hard to believe. Fresh flowery scents taunt us as early as February, but any real sign of spring waits until the end of March, if not later. Nevertheless, even if months of overcast skies and low temperatures have made us forget, bounties of fresh produce are in our near future. Soon, farmers' markets open, and now is a great time, maybe the greatest time, to "vote with your fork."
Why? Oregon's farm land is disappearing, our farmers are retiring, and the few new farmers tentatively taking their place hesitate, wondering if they can make a living producing food for all of us.
I heard one of these young farmers speak recently, and he said he thinks of consumers as "co-producers." How we - you and I - shop and eat largely determines what is grown, where, how, and by whom.
As Michael Pollan says in the film The Botany of Desire, monocultures on the plate result in monocultures on the farm. If we like the idea of biodiversity, of variety, of trying new vegetables and resurrecting heirloom varieties, then small farms are the places to support. Farmers' markets are the places to shop.
Itís interesting that what's good for the body is good for the land. A plate of many colors, holding a diversity of whole plant foods, fuels a healthy life, sustains local farms, and benefits the local economy.
So, as spring approaches, gather your re-usable grocery bags, dust off your bicycle or lace up your sneakers, and get ready to head outside to gather your greens from the farmer who grew them.