They say a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. The Yisrael Family Farm is one step of that thousand mile journey. Starting in 2008 with 90 sq ft of gardening space, this year we will have over 1000 sq ft of space in which to provide food for ourselves and and our neighborhood.
What would cause someone gainfully employed in computer world, used to interacting with inanimate objects switch focus and establish a homestead in the the middle of city?
A simple look read of www.foodsafetynews.com will give you the one of the answers. Not a day passes that some vegetable or meat product is recalled for e. coli, salmonella or the silent killer botulism.
Routinely, people find things in their food from hairs to bugs. Even if the food is organic, the situation remains the same. Our food supply is highly contaminated with foreign materials.
Why is our food in such bad shape? Who is responsible for this widespread contamination?
Ask food purists and they will tell you it's the fault of large companies who use unsafe products to manufacture foods. Other say that agricultural producers don't care about the cleanliness of the animals or their living quarters which breeds disease. Some even point the finger at capitalism as a whole and say that if isn't wasn't all about money we would have better food.
In 2008, the real estate and stock market crash forced me to rethink my ideas.
In years preceding 2007, the sub-prime mortgage market was thriving. Loans were being given to people who couldn't really afford them. As long as home prices increased everyone was good. Appraisers, loan officers, mortgage brokers & real estate agents all knew that at some point this would come to an end, but loans would still be written to anyone. It was even said in come circles that a person picking up cans for a living could get a home loan. As long as home prices rose, lenders didn't mind writing bad loans because they could always foreclose on a property whose value was going up.
Sometime in 2007 the real estate bubble popped. Home prices started dropping rapidly. Many people found themselves in loans where the property was worth less than the loan. Panic was everywhere. This soon spread to the credit markets. Even with lowering interest rates everyone could see that this was spiraling out of control. With the merger of Bear Stearns and JP Morgan, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were next. After guaranteeing 6 billion in loans, many sub-prime, they were bailed out by the government raising the national debt by 800 billion dollars.
I know, I know, what does this all have to do with starting a homestead? EVERYTHING.
Many economists called this crash a lesser depression due to the amount of foreclosures, the stock market crash and it's impact on the economy.
Once again the blame game started. It's the banks fault because they gave loans to people who really couldn't afford them.
This is when I came to the realization of where the REAL blame was for everything from the food crises and the stock market. The blame was on US. That's right, you and me. It's our fault that we have GMO food, it's our fault that we had government bailouts to save the economy raising the national debt over 800 billion at the stroke of a pen, and when the economy crashes completely and we are FORCED to return to a simpler way of life the blame will be on US.
Why? Agricultural history in the US gives us some answers.
Pre-1900 90% of the population in America was involved in Agriculture which due to labor was confined to small scale agriculture. Small scale farming was such that most people lived off the food they grew on their land and bartered for those things that did not produce. Their lifestyle was based on self-sufficiency, community participation and community work. Each homestead grew what they needed and preserved what they grew for winter and some even produce textiles for clothes and shoes. If hard times came or a crop failed, no worry, they grew enough of each crop that they could continue to eat. During this time a farmer was a symbol of autonomy & economic self-determination.
In 2012, it is estimated that all the food grown circulated in America is produced by 2-6 percent of the population. Farming is no longer a way to feed your family and take care of yourself. Agriculture is seen as separate from nature now is a commercial enterprise to provide a commodity for consumers. Many farmers don't eat the crops they grow for the consumers. They have become price-takers, and must take market price for products. Farmers, depending on a consumer driven market that always wants more for less, many corners are cut. Tomatoes are picked green for transport then bombarded with ethylene gas to turn them red for sale. Plant genes are modified to make them undesirable for to pests or disease resistant without attention paid to how it might impact the overall ecosystem. This all compounded by the fact that the average piece of fruit of vegetable travels 1500 miles from farm to plate creates a system that can only be called agricultural from a PURELY commercial sense.
This paved the way for the Monsanto's, Eli Lilies, and the mass takeover of the organic companies by huge commercial conglomerates. It's natural to stray away from turning the mirror on ourselves for these proliferation's but