Iowans lucky to have many options for local food

Avis AllenBy Avis Allen.

Two simple words:  Local Harvest.  What does it mean to you?  To me it means foods and grains harvested locally.  So what does locally mean?  In your city? County? State? Country?  There is no universally accepted definition of local food.  So, it is what you want it to be.

To me it means within my willingness to drive or pay someone to purchase it.  I can get farm fresh eggs from Ames, vegetables from Stuart-Menlo, apples and honey from Adair, herbs from Van Meter, and milk from Guthrie Center.  I would love to be able to purchase more locally, but being a college student and having a family I cannot always afford to pay the local prices.  I do what I can when I can afford it.

The grocery stores are selling some local items; just look for them.  Also use your friends as transportation. If they live on or near a farm who sells the items you want, give them money for gas and some of what you purchased and I bet they would be glad to pick it up for you.

We should all support our local businesses, especially if they are buying local too.  But don’t be fooled by “local;” there are some vendors out there that are local but buy their merchandise from out of country.  Sneaky, huh?

So what is harvest then?  Isn’t that what combines do?  Farmers harvest many different items throughout our wonderful state.  Without the farms, people go hungry. Maybe, just maybe, people should wake up and figure that out, quickly.

Iowa is known for pork, corn, and eggs.  Corn is harvested.  Animals are harvested, too.  I thought that was a strange way to say “slaughter” when I heard it last year for the first time in class. However, I realized, said politely or not, animal lives are taken to feed us. So the next time you eat a piece of meat, no matter what kind, treasure it.  Do not waste it!

I am sure most people know the following words, but as a child my mother would say, “Do not waste that food. There are starving people in this world that would love to have just a bite of what you have.”

As the years go by, I see she was right.  We lived off the earth and so did our animals. Most days you would find our animals running around in our pastures and our yard. There were cages used at night, mainly for the animal’s safety. Sometimes you could find one of us kids taking a nap in the barn with them.  When it stormed we would take our coats and cover them up (boy would mom be mad).

All of the animals got along with each other and we had a few of everything. They were pets to some extent, but each and every one of us knew the reason for their existence. The dogs were workers, cats were mousers, cows and goats were meat and milk, sheep were wool and meat, deer were hide and meat, chickens were eggs and meat, and even ducks were used for meat and eggs.

Meat, water, milk, fruit, vegetables, and our grain were all harvested so we would not go hungry.  You couldn’t get more local than that.  Now don’t get me wrong, we went to the grocery store when we needed to and bought what was available. Unfortunately, convenience stepped into this world big time and we all jumped at the chance to eat on the go.

The United States is the most obese and wasteful country.  If each one of us would work at buying and serving the right portions, storing it properly, growing it where possible, purchasing it, and most of all using all pieces, there would be no waste. If we could do this, we would lower our weights and waste.  I am not wasteful but I can definitely lose some weight by making the portions smaller.

I think more of us need reminded of the words “Local Harvest.” We need to do our best to get our harvest locally and be very thankful that our beautiful state has everything we can possibly need to eat. Otherwise, it may not be available to us for much longer.

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