Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Jen urges "Be Independent"

Strawberry season is winding down here in New England, so I stopped at a farm to pick up a few pints a few nights ago. Since I just moved this past winter, I’ve been getting to know my new neighborhood and its farms this spring. I picked out some juicy, red strawberries and tender asparagus and asked the farmer about his farm.

He told me how the property came to his family from the Barrett Family, who owned the property back in 1775 when the farm played a major role in history. Barrett’s Farm served as the weapons depot for the colonial militias that organized to fight for our independence. When the British arrived in Boston to seize the weapons, they headed straight for the farm where they heard they were stored. But when the Redcoats arrived at the farm, they found nothing.

Upon Paul Revere’s warning, Colonel James Barrett’s sons had plowed up a field and buried the weapons in the furrows while Colonel Barrett led the Middlesex Militia to the North Bridge, where the shot heard round the world declared the colonists’ intention for independence. Barrett’s Farm has been farmed continuously in the 231 years since then.

It got me to thinking about the role farms and farmers have played in our American history. Farmers have been agitators; they’ve been organizers; they’ve been soldiers, generals, presidents, teachers, authors. And they’ve been giving us good food for hundreds of years.

This July 4th, you can thank farmers for the role they’ve played in shaping our nation by declaring your own independence. Declare independence from food that’s been compromised by time, travel, or less-than-the-best growing practices. It can be a lot of work to make the commitment to “buy local”-- but you don’t have to go whole hog—just purchasing a few things direct from the farmer can make a huge difference. The asparagus and strawberries I bought at the farm cost the same as I would have paid at a grocery store. And they were days or weeks fresher, 3,000 miles closer, and nurtured by the hand of a farmer who cares. Do it to invest in your local economy. Do it to support a farmer. Do it for the story the farmer can share with you. Buy local from a farmer for yourself and your taste buds.

Happy Independence Day!

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