THOUGHTS FOR TEACHERS
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In the "Successful Farming" magazine, Mid-March 2016 issue, an interview with Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs, and Somebody's Gotta Do It contained this quote, "...there is a level of indifference (regarding farming issues). My personal theory is the people are disconnected today from things that matter most."
Unfortunately, there is and will be a cost for such indifference, most likely one we won't want to pay if we think about it.
I grew up on a small dairy farm in northern Vermont in the sixties, we drank raw milk, made our own butter with an electric churn, canned vegetables, picked berries, bought fifty pound sacks of potatoes and carrots from across the border in Quebec. My mother had three 22 cubic foot freezers that were full of homemade pies, rolls and meats from the cow that we butchered if she didn't freshen (become pregnant). My grandfather tapped sugar maples and we made syrup in the early Spring. Carl grew up in the country here in Wisconsin, his mother had fruit trees, strawberries, raspberries, and a garden that was at least an acre in size. She also had a pig, chickens, geese and a milk cow.
A Disappearing Culture
Skills like raising chickens for eggs and meat, gardening, canning and cooking from scratch were passed on. But times have changed, people live in apartments or in the suburbs.Two wage earners are required to support a family and many basic skills have been lost along the way...food pantry workers have mentioned that many who visit the pantries are unaware of how to cook staples like long grain rice or beans! Fast Food restaurants are convenient for very busy families, but with a little planning, improvements in diet and lifestyle can be made.
Getting Our Students Interested
I'm standing on a soap box here, but I believe that we need to get more of our best and brightest students interested in how food is grown, processed and transported. Should we be eating food processed in China? Why is it cheaper to raise a pig, slaughter it and then send it to China to be processed and sent back to us? (Their standards for quality control are not the same as ours.)
Issues in Food Production and More
There are so many issues surrounding food production it boggles the mind! And yet, we go to the supermarket as if that's where food is produced and processed. We rarely think of the journey our food takes to get onto our table.
I'm hoping the we can light a fire under some students so they will put their minds into developing creative solutions for the future; from designing a city that is energy efficient to providing affordable, fresh and local quality food to people in the city; to finding ways to conserve water to keeping our soils intact.
Why are these issues important? Well, where does the energy of a nation come from? Not from sick citizens...
Are we not what we eat? How do we promote good nutrition in the populous?
We continue to pour more money into a healthcare system that is reaping the numbers of sick that occur from a lifetime of food misinformation, mass marketing, lack of money, cheap and convenient fast food, a lifestyle that's sedentary, and many other factors.
Where is the Starting Point? Some Topics for Exploration:
Hydroponics aside, raising crops starts with our soils. How do we protect our soils? See here for more info.......
We can't grow crops without water. People in arid or semi-arid landscapes should not use water in order to have a lawn!
We also need to understand the role that insects play in pollinating crops. How we can protect this critical service, our chemicals are having a detrimental effect.
How can we design a food system to feed cities? Can advances in hydroponics and incorporating some principles of permaculture provide fresh foods locally to dense city neighborhoods (instead of being trucked from California)?
Some Information About Our Soils for Kids:
What is Permaculture?
Permaculture brings a paradigm shift to agriculture, it may have astounding promise for our world..but few farmers now are comfortable with that idea. To learn more about this important topic link here.
Should We Always Expect Blemish Free?
What is the cost of perfection: If an apple has a blemish should we reject it? If you want something that always looks perfect, expect that it's got chemicals on it and in it.
Advances in hydroponics may mean food can be grown locally. Learn more here:
More about hydroponics:
Can a person in a small apartment grow lettuce for themselves? Or a tomato plant? Simple things like this should be easy, affordable and a no-brainer, even for busy households.
If you have any comments or suggestions to make these pages more useful to you, call Colleen's cell: 608-669-0800.