In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Steven Hopp discusses the diner in Chapter 10. He talks about the struggle facing society today that we don’t really know where our foods are coming from. Hopp says “Most of us are not accustomed to asking about food origins, but it’s easy enough to do.” Why is that? Why are we not questioning where our food comes from or where our supermarket obtains it? I found it very interesting that the smaller the store is, the more open a grocer would be to helping you find local produce in the store. Also, I was unaware that restaurants are actually advocating for more local foods in the restaurant because it is the freshest available. The best we can do as consumers is to ask questions, do our research, and speak up to help support local farms by registering so that the state governments can hear your concerns.
Also, Hopp talks about the pesticides that are used on produce. “Which bugs stay around? Obviously, those lucky enough to duck and cover. Also a few of those who did get a full, normally lethal dosage, but who have a natural resistance to the chemicals. If their resistance is genetic, that resistance will come back stronger in the next generation. Over time, with continued spraying, the portion of the population with genetic resistance will increase. Eventually the whole population will resist the chemicals.”(Hopp p.164). With new generations of insects that are resistant to the pesticides, that means the spraying of even more new chemicals/ pesticides to try to reduce the insect population in the crops. After pesticides are on produce, the produce loses many of the nutrients that are found in it that help prevent disease and keep us healthy. In turn, using even more pesticides will produce even more crop loss and loss of even more nutrients in the produce.
Hopp points out that another solution that biologists discussed may be the answer. “How can we solve this conflict? Organic agriculture, which allows insect predator populations to retain a healthy presence in our fields, break the cycle (p165).” Kutztown’s farmers market’s produce is from local farmers, free from pesticides, who provide very reasonable prices for the produce they sell. Produce from local stores costs about double the price and you don’t get as much. In addition to this , the produce there isn’t guaranteed to be locally grown and most often is not.
Hopp also talks about how easy it is to grow our own produce and plants, yet we do not. “If you have any yard at all, part of it can become a garden. You can spade up the sunniest part of it for seasonal vegetables, or go for the more understated option of using perennial edibles in your landscaping. Fruit, nuts, citrus, or berry plants come in many attractive forms, with appropriate choices for every region of the country (Hopp p.180).” There are many ways for us to grow plants and produce even if it is small and we do not necessarily need a farm or even a gigantic yard to do it. If that is not an option for you, the CSA allows subscribers on their farm and will sometimes even do a work-for-food arrangement. There are so many options to explore when it comes to having a healthier lifestyle and it is achievable, but people hardly look into any options. The need for consumers to support local farms is important. If we want local schools to be more healthy and care about the food they are serving, family members need to start showing more support and vocalize that support to representatives for a restructured Farm Bill which contains less than one half percent of the budget for famers markets, community projects, and local foods in schools (Hopp p. 206).
Next, Hopp discusses cows and how they are abused and we are ultimately at risk. Cows with mad cow disease die and consumers can die from eating the meat from the cow as well. Very little cows are tested for the disease and it can lay dormant in the consumer for years before it kills them. Cows contract prions, which attack the nervous system. The only way for a cow to contract prions is to eat other cows. This means that cows have been subjected to cannibalism and become accustomed to eating the dead cows, who’s meat is placed in their feed and even calves are fed cows blood and chicken feed sometimes gets replaced with dead cows as well. The only way this is preventable is to make sure that we feed them pasture grass and organic feed because not one cow tested that was fed the proper diet was found to have mad cow disease (Hopp p.231).
Finally, Hopp’s discusses urban gardens. “In addition to providing fresh local produce, gardens like these serve as air filters, help recycle wastes, absorb rainfall, present pleasing green spaces, alleviate loss of land to development, provide food security, reduce fossil fuel consumption, provide jobs, educate kids, and revitalized communities (Hopp p.250).” My question is- if urban gardens do so many great things for our environment, why aren’t we utilizing it? We could gain many benefits from using urban gardens and should provide more support for this idea.