To your host, the planet Earth.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what people are doing to our lovely home, and wanted to express my concern that we are taking her so much for granted we may soon find ourselves in a “stuffy closet,” rather than a lush open plain.

Two weeks ago Stanford University came out with the statement that there was no measurable difference between organic and conventionally raised food. My first question was “what standard of organic did they use?”   Was it the USDA’s definition that allows food to be raised in such a way that it looks great traveling across the nation, though it can’t compare to the beautiful strawberries raised at home or at a neighborhood garden?  My other thought was – if the food tastes better, and people fill up on healthy vegetables and fruit, and eat leaner meat, doesn’t that mean they are eating a healthier diet? Shouldn’t that be considered in the “nutritional difference?”

The more important aspect is that there’s a difference between “Nutritional content,” and “footprint.”  Will conventional farming bring the honeybee population back? Because true organic practices, may.
Isn’t our diet better off for having apples, peas, melons, or healthy clover fed beef?  Conventionally raised agriculture doesn’t allow for that if they continue to use “pest resistance” gene manipulation and pesticides.  These chemicals cannot tell the difference between a grasshopper and a honeybee. One is a problem for the plant, the other is a blessing.

Conventional agriculture has allowed for us to have access to “cheap food,” though it has left us with expensive health issues, transport costs both financial and environmental, and a diet that is more focused on speed than on flavor or nutrition.  When people had to really work for their food, from planting and raising, to simply deboning or roasting, the anticipation and the effort raise the appreciation of the cook and their guests.

There is so much more to our food than simply the nutrition in it and how it’s served. It truly represents our connection and respect for our host planet, and whether as the Scouts teach, “have we left the place better than when we found it?”  Our food choices show our appreciation and our knowledge of our neighboring animals and plants, and supporting local agriculture, whether you grow it or just eat it, says volumes about your opinion of your neighbors and yourself.

There’s so much more to say, but I think that’s enough for now.  For more information about how to be a better Earth neighbor, check out www.northcountrysustain.org.  What kind of guest do you want to be?

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