Fresh Out

It’s time to fix food

America is overextended — socially, economically, militarily, diplomatically, energetically. Our resources are stretched. A chaotic three-ring circus of television, social media and politics now distracts us from our most fundamental need: to clothe, feed and shelter our families and ourselves.

Louisiana radishes. Photo by Alison McConnell

Though pessimism abounds, one simple priority could reorganize our efforts to improve the state of the nation; cut through the morass of bullshit rhetoric.

It’s something individuals can do, regardless of what their family circumstances look like:

We can be better cooks.

Better cooks do their homework and know what they’re buying. Better cooks put fresher foods on the dinner table and gulp healthier meals on the go, in the car, on the way to work. Better cooks transfer crucial skills to children.

Cooking lends families a moment of unification around a table — and even if this happens only once or twice a week, that moment makes a difference.

American kitchens and food purchasing patterns are near & dear to my heart. I founded The Humble Gourmand in 2009 to teach basic kitchen skills, educate consumers about agriculture and provide a supply-chain link where it was sorely needed. The HG sold meats, cheeses, eggs, produce and milk to individual cityslickers in DC. Everything was sourced from sustainable farms I’d vetted in traipsing journeys throughout rural Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Many customers said meat purchased through the HG was the best they’d ever tasted. Other clients were reminded of what certain vegetables tasted like when they were much younger.

The HG isn’t in business any longer, but our food system needs evolution more than ever. Progress demands informed consumers who have done their homework; their inquiry and reading. If you don’t know anything about industrial agriculture — the system from which most of your food comes — it’s time to crack a book or two.

If you’re already cooking every day and the realities of Big Ag and government subsidies aren’t news, it’s time to go further. Economists, marketers and major corporate players watch your spending habits closely. They want to know what drives our decisions: price or quality?

Now is the time to send the clearest message possible. Go out of your way to direct your dollars to sustainable producers who have invested in holistic practices. This represents a simultaneous investment in your own health.

I’ll be sharing resources and relevant information in this space whenever possible: interviews with farmers, links to articles and stories from my career as a private chef, cooking instructor, and entrepreneur. I hope you’ll find inspiration to make changes in your own kitchen. Happy cooking.

Originally published on Medium / June 24 2017

Alison McConnell