If you follow me on Instagram you know I was at Windrose Farm this weekend. Hello nature photos (listen, if you’re hating it you’re only one click away from complete freedom).
On Saturday afternoon I had some wine, beer and cheese with the farmer Bill on their front porch. He had to walk to the barn to grab his beer, he buys it in kegs – badass. We spent a couple hours hearing stories of his 22 day sailing trip from Hawaii back to California on an old wooden sailboat this summer. I’m not sure if my imagination exaggerated his stories, but my images include Bill in the middle of the night hoisted near the top of the mast with the wind nearly tipping the boat over, while he fixes the problem that most surely would have sunk the boat. It also includes fishing off the side of the boat and eating sashimi for dinner every night surrounded by Pacific Ocean blue and the perfect sunset, as well as long bumpy nights as the boat heaves with each wave and small amounts of water slosh around the floor. Oh, and also a captain that looks like the guy from titanic with the white beard and wears all blue and swears a lot. I think this is a mostly true depiction.
We then moved into conversation about the farm itself. It seems it is hard to turn a profit in biodynamic farming. It’s essentially food for the rich because the amount it costs to grow food without chemicals, makes it so expensive that it no longer fits within the tightly squeezed American family’s food budget (on average 8% of one’s income is allocated to food, that thing that keeps us alive). Of course we know that we end up paying a lot more in medical bills from health problems due to low nutrition and in our taxes to subsidize corporate farmers, but whatever.
As the small amount of family farmers are beginning to die off, corporations are coming in and buying up land. Bill popped my happy bubble I felt I was in, I thought by purchasing USDA organic produce I was out of the woods. As it turns out they keep adding more and more chemicals and poisons to the list of approved organic pesticides and there is very little if any accountability to enforce organic farmers to abide by the regulations. Thanks Monsanto.
Oh, and Bill went by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on his way home from Hawaii, which is basically a giant dumpster in the middle of the ocean (it's estimated to be between the size of Texas and up to twice the size of the Continental United States). I learned about its effects and that the garbage infiltrates itself into the food chain and we end up eating that shit, literally, on a micro level we are eating our own waste.
I just picture us like this disease spreading all over the earth and consuming and destroying without a thought to our future generations. Or future aside, we act without thought to what’s sustainable now and better for us today. We forget that we’re just organism in this huge breathing being and when we poison it we’re actually poisoning ourselves. We're like the cancer to the whole being.
Note: I’m aware that I understand food from a place of privilege. I know that for some family’s their food budget allows only for fast food options and that’s literally survival for them. We can and should make peace with sometimes unsustainable farming to allow hungry families to at least eat, that's a priority. But for those of us who can sacrifice to support a more sustainable approach to farming, let's.
Now that I have sufficiently bummed you out, here’s the advice I was given. Know your farmer. You support sustainability by purchasing food from sustainable farms. Go to the farmers market and get to know the farm, ask if you can visit, it should be local. If they won’t let you come that’s not a great sign, if they do, go check it out. See how they do things and support the farmers who do it right. It’s going to cost you more, but maybe less in the long run.