Today we give thanks for the food on our tables and the large and small farmers that make it possible. From the strawberries to the spinach to the honey in this Strawberry Spinach Salad.
Growing up, we listened to the radio a lot – for farm news, soybean and corn prices, weather reports and Paul Harvey.
Paul Harvey was a radio sensation before anyone knew what it meant to be viral. We would often listen to his great stories in the summer months.
Although there was work to be done: garden work, farm work, rock picking, bean walking, checking the fields and working on farm equipment – we always anticipated our noon hour break. While eating our Dad’s fried Spam sandwiches, we rested inside from the hot summer sun and listened to Paul Harvey.
“Stand by for news,” was his signature call out.
He had a great way of capturing your attention. While he died in 2009, after nearly 50 years on the radio, a little old Super Bowl ad brought him back to life.
Do any of you get emotional just watching that video?
It says home to me. The fields, the tractors, the rows of crops, the family praying around the table. And those hands – those well-worn hands – remind me of my grandpa’s hands. What Paul Harvey didn’t say here is, “So God made a local farmer.” He just said, “So God made a farmer.”
Local vs. Non-local Farmers
If you take a look at your friends on Facebook, would you say your local friends matter more than your non-local ones? Not me. I would say all of my friends are valuable. They all have a place.
Same with local and non-local farmers. Buying food from all farmers, both local and non-local, is valuable. Every farmer works hard to grow food for our families. Every farmer has a place at the table in the food world.
You see, there’s a buzz about local, but is it a food philosophy to live by? I believe as a registered dietitian and Mom, that there isn’t much of a difference.
While I grew up on a soybean and corn growing farm where we had thousands of acres of farmland, we were still a family farm. While the crops we grew went into the national industry, it didn’t mean we didn’t support the local economy or actually eat what we grew,or that safety in all forms and efficiency wasn’t a huge priority.
Did you know 97% of farms – which is actually 90% of farm land – in the United States are actually family farms?
I participated in the Food Dialogues Minneapolis in August 2015 and this was my main takeaway:
Sometimes we get into this sensationalistic mindset – like finding the next big thing. The idea of “local food” is happening right now.
But can I share something with you?
While I don’t have a sensational, hip, or trendy food philosophy, I do have one that we can all feel good about. It’s one that believes in nourishing our families with all kinds of fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains and all kinds of meats no matter where they come from, whether it’s the farmer at the farmer’s market or the cattle rancher raising my beef two states over, or the strawberry farmer in California.
Let’s celebrate similarities as all farmers strive to do.
Frequently Asked Questions About Local versus Non-Local Farms
Whether a farmer supports the national food industry or the local one, there’s a lot to be said about how much common ground they share:
- Money spent near their home stays within the community? Yep.
- Do their business support other local businesses? You bet.
- Do they both pay taxes locally? Yes.
- Do they both invest in their community, living and working within their community, raise their families within the community and invest in the community’s future? Of course.
- Do both types of growers work to make things as efficient as possible? Yes, yes, yes.
- Is sustainability a priority for both? Overwhelming yes.
- Is the environment around them a priority for both? Very much so.
- Is the goal high quality and safe food for both their families and ours? Totally.
What about these questions?
- Does locally grown food have more nutrition than food that isn’t locally grown? Not necessarily.
- Is there a food safety difference? No, not at all.
- What about pesticides – are they used in both situations? Yes, actually.
But pesticides are not flamboyantly used. Pesticide use is controlled and efficient and I encourage you to watch this very short video – produced by the women at CommonGround.
Here are a few more questions:
- Do all farmers fertilize their crops in some way? Yes, nutrient deficiencies occur and need to be corrected. Otherwise crops won’t grow.
- What about size? Aren’t local farmers the only true family farmer? Actually, no.
A family farm, per the USDA, is defined as one where the majority of the business is owned by the farmer and the people related to the farmer, including any relatives that do not live in a farmer’s household.
I continue to be in awe about the amount of food we have available to us all year round. What about those strawberries in January? Or spinach any day of the week? We can get them whenever we need them, thanks to the farmers all around the country growing our food when the season is right for them. Let’s thank the farmers both near and far for growing food that graces our tables. It’s delicious no matter where it comes from.
Now It’s Your Turn
What’s your food philosophy – do you have strong feelings about this? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Want to know more about agriculture? Subscribe to my newsletter at the top of the page – future blog posts coming soon!
Other videos you might want to watch related to the idea of local food:
The common thread between all farmers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiIRe0XEhdc
How do you define local food? CommonGround https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb44N-pVjcc
This post is sponsored by The US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, but the writing is all mine.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh or purchased)
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 6 ounces spinach
- 1-1/2 cups quartered strawberries
- 1/2 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
- 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup sharp white cheddar, cut into small cubed
- To make dressing, whisk lemon juice, vinegar, honey, oil, and chia seeds in a small bowl.
- To glaze walnuts, heat a medium non-stick skillet to medium-high heat. Add butter and brown sugar and whisk together. Add walnuts and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and place on crinkled foil on plate and place in refrigerator to cool.
- Place spinach in large serving bowl. Add strawberries, cucumber, shallots, and cheese cubes. Re-whisk dressing; pour over salad, gently tossing to coat. Sprinkle with glazed walnuts. Serve immediately.
- To make ahead, keep ingredients separated until ready to serve. Add dressing right before serving.