Karma is a boomerang. Those words were written on the tip jar at one of my favorite coffee sipping haunts. After staring at it for so many mornings, it stuck in my head, and I’ve come to think of it as one of the world’s great truths. Funny where you encounter wisdom sometimes. Scrawled on the sides of mailboxes, stickered onto the crosswalk, watching some little kid do something funny.
Now I don’t want to get too up in the clouds about it, but I do feel that there’s something afoot. This past weekend I attended a conference in Sullivan County dedicated to connecting farmers with markets. And not just with the kinds of markets you’d think. Of course it’s good for farmers to sell to shops like Saxelby Cheesemongers, but if we’re going to feed everyone the good, real food that is part of our collective history over the past few millenia, we’re going to need to reach out and stretch our arms and our aims a bit. We’ve been preaching to the choir long enough, and I guess our voices have started to carry because there are more and more business people out there who want to support good food. Call it what you want: local, regional, organic, sustainable, so long as its good, clean, and fair, its what should be on our tables.
At this conference were doers. Farmers, foragers, market and CSA organizers, and entrepreneurs of all ilks: from owners of tiny shops, cafes, and restaurants, to distributors and bigger supermarket chains that stretch across the tri-state area. Everyone there, and I imagine most other Americans out there want the same thing. To see our farmers and farmland thrive, to eat better and tastier food, and to re-create a community around one of the basic tenets of civilization: the table. It certainly won’t happen overnight, but it’s heartening to know that these go-getters are going out and getting more regional produce, dairy, meat, grains, beans, nuts, and fish. New connections are being forged, and new solutions are being created.
One of the main battles we face in doing this is of course, cost. But, on this Monday morning, after the historic passage of the health care bill, I think it’s a good time to reflect on that. In the early 20th century, Americans used to spend upwards of 20% of their income on food, and virtually nothing on healthcare. Now, that ratio is the exact opposite. We only spend about 6% of our income on food, and about 20% on healthcare. As that boomerang wings and whistles around out there, it’s an interesting thing to keep in mind.
‘Till next week, eat cheese and be merry!