Growing up, food was always the cornerstone of my household. I think that one of the reasons that I became passionate about the environment and about the food system is the fact that my family always put such an emphasis on the origin and preparation of our food. Coming from California, I was surrounded by farms, and farmers markets were a way that everyone in the community had a chance, albeit a brief one, to meet with our local farmers. My family and I would go on Sundays to one of the local farmer’s markets looking for as much of the locally grown and organic produce that we could find, but as I got older, I started to pay closer attention to some of the problems surrounding these farms. Many of the farmers that I spoke with told me how they weren’t able to legally sell their produce as “organic,” even though they didn’t use pesticides/herbicides, due to the incredibly difficult legal process that farmers have to go through to sell anything as certifiably organic.
This made me curious about food policies and practices, so I began looking into what it meant for a food to be considered organic. Inevitably, I eventually learned about pesticides and herbicides and became horrified by the essentially toxic and deadly chemicals that we spray over millions of pounds of our food each year. Not only did I learn of the borderline terrifying effects that these chemicals had on the farm laborers and consumers, but I also learned about how hard they were on the environment. The birds, insects, soils and our waterways were all suffering as a result of our industrialization of the farm and desire to mass produce food through the aid of pesticides and herbicides.
By hearing about these issues from some of the local farmers, I was able to gain a strong interest in learning about the health and safety, or lack thereof, of our food. I think one of the reasons I decided to do FoodWorks was that I wanted to gain an even deeper understanding of the role that federal policy plays in the local food system and the ways that local and small farms could combat the devastating effects of the mass produced food and the laws that make organic farming so difficult.