By Shain Saberon
Why should a nation produce its own food when others can produce it more cheaply? A dozen reasons leap to mind . . . but most are quick to dismiss as sentimental. I’m thinking of the sense of security that comes from knowing that your community, or your country, can feed itself; the beauty of an agricultural landscape; the outlook of the kinds of local knowledge that farmers bring to a community; the satisfactions of buying food from a farmer you know rather than the supermarket; the locally inflected flavor of a raw-milk cheese or honey. All those things—all those pastoral values—globalization proposes to sacrifice in the name of efficiency and economic growth.
-Michael Pollen, The Omnivores Dilemma
Sometimes I ask myself why I ever became involved in agriculture. This question resonates most loud in the middle of the summer when I find my heart and mind fixated on the serenity of a trout stream and the simple pleasures of fly-fishing. Most times now other satisfactions—pastoral ones—coexist with my other favorite pastimes.
This year we hope to share more of the beauty of our farm through a celebration, an open invitation to visit us, and a photo album posted on our website. Yes, the food we lovingly grow, the food on which you dine, has many virtues: flavor, nutrition, balance, harmony, and sustainability, just to name a few. However, locality is the greatest strength of our food!
First, your support of our farm has contributed to the growth of our family as farmers, cooks, naturalists, self-reliance enthusiasts, and old-time farming throwbacks. We hope to share our knowledge with you. Most of all, we would love to contribute to the vanishing domestic culinary art of preparing and feasting on local and seasonal foods. Please use our website; we have found great pleasure in the food preparation techniques presented in the recipes posted therein. We are also proud to announce that we are members of a local Slow Foods convivium, an organization dedicated to the ideals preached in this letter.
Your commitment to our farm makes the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the life with which we have equal stakes on our planet infinitely healthier. With typical industrialized agricultural practices, 100 pounds of synthetic/petrochemical fertilizer per acre is annually used to grow several staple food crops (corn, potatoes, wheat). However, many conventional growers admit they often apply double the amount to ensure a “good harvest.” And this is only a fraction of the fossil fuels and chemicals required to provide factory foods! Other petrochemical inputs include weed and pest controls as well as preservatives (most conventionally grown produce is subjected to ten chemical applications). Last, consider the fossil fuel requirements involved in shipping your food from the irresponsible distances of Chile and China? The untold burden of not eating local food will be written in the chronicles of history as one of our times greatest consumptive sins.
Last, buying local means more of your food dollars stay local. Tens of thousands of our collective food dollars have been recycled back into the pockets of those in our community. The purchase of land, animal feeds, water wells, construction materials, labor, advertisement, marketing materials, and much more have been required for the existence of our farm. Your decision to support us is an action that builds a stronger local economy.
Some parting words. Please keep more of your food dollars local. Seek out and support other Star Valley farmers too. Many more are needed. One such rancher exists, Joe Nield. After several conversations with Joe about his farming philosophy and practices, I offer my full endorsement of his grass-fed beef. Also, Paul Smith with Wyoming Chicken Ranch and the Shumway’s Dairy are contributing to our local food chain. Please join us to seek out and support more Star Valley farmers for a better future. Stay tuned for more information on these local food producers.