|How would you like 500 of these in your county?|
Meanwhile, just down the road, at the same time as Ms. Gustafson's talk, our Agricultural Board was supposed to be discussing the poultry complex. A number of concerned citizens showed up to hear what the board had to say. Unfortunately, the board decided that it was an issue to be discussed after the meeting, in a "closed" session, meaning the public (i.e., taxpayers) was shut out. Bill and I were torn between sitting in on the board's meeting and hearing the speaker. We decided to go with the positive choice and were glad we did.
When I finally sat down to read this week's county paper, I realized it featured two related but very different stories, both on the same page. One was on a series of training sessions for farmers' market vendors. The article mentioned how much money stayed in a community when residents bought their food at farmers' markets:
Meanwhile, some of the same county officials who are touting the benefits of local food, are also pushing for agricultural exports (such as the chickens processed at an integrated poultry complex), saying how beneficial they are to the state and to farmers:So I just wonder which is it? Does local food benefit farmers or do exports? How does the money work out for the community when food is exported for sale elsewhere and the stores have to import food to sell, with little of the money spent on the imported food staying in the community? Farmers make more money when they are able to sell food at retail prices, but if they export they must sell at wholesale, so less money for the farmer, less money for the community. In addition, as the article about farmers' market food points out, local food is better for the heath and wellness of the community.
This double talk makes my head spin. Local and exported food cannot both be beneficial. Local food is beneficial to the farmer and the community because they keep more of the money, plus the food is fresh and healthier. Therefore, exported food cannot benefit the farmers and the community because that means they have to import food, they make and keep less money, and the food is less healthy because it isn't fresh. If the object is to keep money in the community and to provide the community with healthy food, then a community should strive for 100% local food. It can't be beneficial (nor logical) both to export AND to keep the food local. Right?