living farm

Happy sheep on luscious North Fork farmland - Courtesy of The Living Farm, Paonia. 

     There is a quiet revolution occurring in the way Americans are rethinking food. The Coronavirus has brought concern to consumers over the safety and ability of obtaining food from foreign and domestic sources alike. Meanwhile, appreciation of local offerings from our nearby farms and ranches has grown exponentially. With no quick end in sight to our predicament, people in Delta county are turning their attentions homeward when it comes to putting food on their tables, and the results may just save our way of life.  

     Many families are beginning to consider where their food comes from and how it is produced. Meat packing plants in the United States have become hotspots due to crowded work environments and further implications of their methods, now exposed, are not lost on consumers. More people suddenly have a desire for food with minimal human contact between farm and table, and with easy access to produce and meat from the farms and ranches of our own fertile valleys, we have the ability to eliminate the middleman.

     The interruptions of global supply chains have already impacted foreign food production and reduced imports. Within our own country, the rapid breakdown of transport caused many farmers to dispose of mountains of produce while large grocery stores presented customers with empty shelves for weeks. Many of us are used to frequenting chain grocery and big-box stores for one-stop shopping, but turning to local fresh markets and hometown stores is an about-face local folks are starting to make.  

     The benefits of eating locally transcend peace of mind concerning safety. Locally sourced foods are fresher and more flavorful when they don’t have to travel as far. Processing is minimized to nothing and fresh, seasonal foods have a much higher nutrient content. More nutritious options better strengthen our immune systems and are the first defense in “keeping the doctor away.” Seasonal crops also present a surplus in which farmers can offer lower prices to local consumers. 

     Of course, changing our buying habits requires rewiring our mindsets. Purchasing available seasonal foods over imported products will mean rethinking our routines concerning meal planning, shopping habits, and storage practices. But the rewards we reap will continue long after COVID-19 is a chapter in our past. Sustainable practices have positive implications worldwide and the local benefits are priceless. 

     Supporting our hometown farmers and ranchers allows them to reinvest in our community by patronizing local businesses themselves, which in turn, supports our way of life here. Some folks are completing the circle by planting their own “Victory Gardens” and raising chickens for yard-fresh eggs. Farmers, feed stores, nurseries, and local hardware stores all benefit when we focus our attention on growing food at home.   

     If there is one universal truth the Coronavirus has taught us, it is the need to stay in touch with the people that matter while we distance from the masses. Interaction with our family, friends, and neighbors has become a commodity unparalleled in its value to our souls. Tending our own gardens and purchasing local food at our hometown markets allows us to interact with the people that keep our community growing, giving us a better understanding of where our daily bread comes from and leaving us with a greater appreciation for our food and our neighbors alike.