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The Daily Tar Heel

Every squash and turkey has a story

Everything we eat has its own story. By the time you take your first bite of squash casserole this Thanksgiving, the squash has developed a story of its own. The same goes for the turkey, the stuffing, and, yes, the cranberry dressing from the jar.

Sustainable Food Fest, sponsored by Fair, Local, Organic Food, invites us to learn where our food comes from, how to shop smarter and eat healthier and how we can really appreciate that home-cooked meal on Thanksgiving.

More fossil fuels are consumed when we eat than when we drive. Solving this problem means establishing food security instead of relying heavily on imported food.

Our agricultural systems are no longer filled with diversified crops. Instead our system has become a monoculture of a single species of crop. This takes nutrients out of the soil and makes it more likely that fruits and vegetables will have pests or diseases.

As a nation, we currently depend on corn and soybean monocultures just as Ireland once relied on potato crops. Our undiversified agricultural system is a problem not only for U.S. farmers, but also for U.S. consumers. The best and easiest solution to this problem is to buy locally.

Eating locally not only provides us with the freshest foods, it also gives us the opportunity to know from where and from whom we are buying. Spending our money on our local farmers’ yields will help to cut down on the energy cost of shipping goods across states and even countries.

It will also simplify the complex food system that separates consumers from food production. Right now only 20 cents from every dollar spent in a grocery store goes to the farmer that grew the food.

Just as department stores coming into town run “Mom and Pop” stores out of business, industrialized farming has replaced much of the local, small-scale agriculture of the U.S. We have heard of the plight of local farmers for a long time, but the story that really needs to be told is that of consumers.

While some local farmers are doing everything they can to make ends meet, many consumers are ignorant of the beautiful food they could be eating, and the community they could be a part of. That’s really a shame.

This beautiful food is more appropriately defined as sustainable. It is the edible antithesis of the offerings on dollar menus.

With sustainable agriculture comes an ever-more diversified harvest of local and fresh food. It encompasses preserving the environment, enhancing the growth of rural areas, eating healthier, giving farmers a living wage and treating workers fairly and animals humanely. Most of all, sustainability calls on all of us to be smarter shoppers.

As Tar Heels, we have the privilege of being in the center of a flourishing agricultural state.

We have access to local food all the time; this week it has been brought right to our campus.

Sustainable Food Fest here at UNC is an effort to boost our knowledge not only about environmentally friendly eating habits, but also about how easy it is to develop them.

With what we have learned this week we can all take steps to become smarter shoppers.

Lucy Barber is a sophomore English major from Marietta, Ga. Contact Lucy at lhbarber@email.unc.edu.

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