If you’ve read the ‘About’ page, you might be asking yourself, what difference does it make where our food comes from or how it’s raised anyway? And why would anyone want to spend their retirement years working hard on a farm?
Let’s take the first question: Why should we care about where our food comes from or how it’s raised anyway? My mother always taught me that there are two sides to every story and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. Your mother might have taught you the same thing. This causes me to be inquisitive and look into the facts surrounding issues carefully so I can come to my own conclusions about their merits.
A friend of my husband knew we were raising chickens on a small-scale and were looking for a way to make our farm supplement our retirement income (Hint: this is part of the answer to the second question above). He recommended that we look at what this farmer in Virginia, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, was doing with “alternative” farming methods. As we began to research this new way of raising food, we read things that surprised and shocked us about the way commercially packaged food is raised and prepared. But we’ve eaten it all our lives and have lived to be close to retirement, so how bad could it possibly be, right?
Through the years of raising our kids, we relied heavily on fast food meals, quick and convenient microwavable food, quick mixes, snack foods – you name it, we’ve probably had it in our pantry at some point. However, I didn’t always eat that way. As a child, my grandparents had a small farm. They raised vegatables, fruits and cows, with an occasional pig thrown in. My childhood memories include riding the plow behind the mule as my grandfather turned the soil to prepare the garden or knock back weeds. I remember helping with the picking and canning, dressed appropriately in my own sunbonnet made by my grandmother. My parents helped my grandparents and then shared in the bounty so as a child, I grew up eating fresh and home canned vegetables, fruits and meat. Processed snacks and junk food were treats, not a regular part of our daily diet. And I was a skinny kid. After decades without the wholesome diet I had as a child, I see definite changes in my health. Some may be normal aging issues, but I sincerely believe that I have done it to myself by years of junk food, fast and over processed foods, combined with a fast paced, corporate existence and little exercise.
Our reading and research has taught us that many of the foods we eat have been modified from their original, God-given DNA. Some of these modifications have been implemented to help improve yields, to make animals grow bigger more quickly or to help the plants be stronger and more resistant to disease and pests. The big commercial farmers might tell you that these modifications are helpful and they couldn’t produce at the rates they do today without these scientific breakthroughs. And I suppose based on their world view, they might be right.
But what do we really know about the impacts of these modifications? What is the impact on our children long-term if many of the foods we buy already processed contain ingredients that are not in their natural state? What are these unnatural processes and chemicals doing to our soil? What is the impact on animals and insects that naturally thrive and are necessary for sustaining a certain eco system? Sure, you can read stories from the biochemical industry and the big corporate farm folks that support their way of production and belief that there is no harm being done. You can also find stories, blogs and books all day long from the environmentalists and naturalists who are convinced that these new genetically modified seeds and chemical treatments are detrimental to our health and the environment. Animal rights folks will decry the inhumane way that our meat supply is grown, fattened and processed. The commercial livestock producers will just as vehemently stand behind their methods as humane and necessary to ensure the food supply is ample for a growing population.
I have not learned enough yet to say with strong conviction if one way is right or wrong, or to quote facts and figures to convince anyone else of what I am beginning to believe. Even if my mother was right and the truth on these issues is somewhere in the middle, I am convinced of enough to make a personal conscious choice to care more about where my food comes from. I am also convinced of the following:
- What some folks refer to as “alternative” farming is actually the natural way of farming. It’s how my grandparents did it and theirs before them. The alternative farming is actually the chemically based, genetically modified or engineered, single species corporate production operations which are more prevalent today.
- The more times food is processed, the more natural nutrition it loses.
- God created all things to his purpose on this earth in a certain way, with certain DNA, for a reason and you don’t mess with God’s creations! ( or fool Mother Nature!)
- Growing and raising multiple species of plants and animals in sustainable ways that don’t overtax any single piece of ground is good for the land and can actually improve fertility.
- Eating all that processed, unnatural food – food that I have no idea how or where it was grown – for all those years is part of the health challenges I face today. If I begin to eat more whole, natural food that I know is grown using safe, clean methods, my health can only be improved.
- We are not only what we eat, we are also what our food eats.
- Each of us should have the freedom to make decisions about what food we purchase and consume. This freedom is being threatened at this very moment.
- Porter Pond Farm can make a difference in our community by providing clean, fresh food to our family and our neighbors. (Hint: this is the rest of the answer to the second question!)
I hope you will follow us as we get our farm up and running. We’ll share what we learn, our successes and our mistakes as we go. We are so excited about Porter Pond Farm and hope you visit us soon!