The Edge of the Wood

by John Messeder, Nemophilist & Ecological Storyteller

Buy fresh, buy healthy, buy local

Farm markets are a way to know the food and who produces it(First published in the Gettysburg Times, 5/17/2013)

I was visiting the other day when someone acknowledged the strawberries tasted good, but suggested washing them with vinegar to ensure that if there was any insecticide on the berries, its “-cide” was rendered harmless.

There was a time when washing one’s food meant using water to remove the garden dirt. Vinegar was for making pickles and sauerkraut. Mom took the four of us kids to the Pick Your Own strawberry fields, where the farmer at the checkout table threatened to charge mom for the berries we kids had eaten while picking. Unfortunately, he had neglected to weigh us when we entered the field.

In my youth, I drank raw milk, ate raw vegetables from the garden and (cooked) fish from the lake. Each year, Dad or Mom, sometimes Dad and Mom, got a deer; there was not much of it we did not eat.

In the Navy, my eating habits traded fresh garden produce for grocery store victuals. The last few years before I was diagnosed with diabetes, a typical nighttime snack was either a heaping bowl of ice cream or a bag of corn chips and salsa washed down with a huge cup of Pepsi.

I’ve often said I’d like to hang around over the autopsy table long enough to learn whether it was the Pepsi or the hot link sausages that did me in. Or the Bluetooth headset I wear sometimes on my ear.

There was a piece on the news the other night about cell phones could be causing breast cancer in teenage girls. Researchers have discovered some young women like to snuggle their phone in their bra so they can feel it vibrate without anyone else knowing it’s ringing, and maybe that’s not a good idea.

No proof yet, just a question. But it’s one more thing in a myriad of “possibilities” that allows all the possible culprits to point at all the other possible culprits. It’s like high-priced children each pointing to the other, exclaiming, “He was there, too.”

Agri-tech companies, of which Monsanto is the standard bearer, engineer herbicides that create super-weeds; each year the weed killer must be reformulated, which means the corn, soybean and other crop seeds must be reengineered to prevent them being seen by the poison as just another weed.

A growing pile of evidence suggests those chemically and genetically engineered goods might actually be harming us – or at least helping drive up the cost of healthcare. Occasionally, the evening news carries the story, but hearing it requires close attention. Meanwhile, in courtrooms across the nation …

“Your Honor,” says counsel for the plaintiff. “My client’s breast cancer was caused by chemicals in her Cheerios.”

“Objection,” cries counsel for the defense. “She is 16 years old and since she was 10 she has carried her cell phone against her chest. Clearly, the cell phone is at fault.”

Federal funding cuts are trimming Department of Agriculture inspector staffing, making “Buy Local” an attractive  substitute for the engineered, chemically reformulated groceries we are exhorted by television commercials to get hungry and eat. Unlike one of those huge California or Brazilian companies, the farmer down the road cannot get away with a “voluntarily recall” when folks become ill or dead from eating his products.

When I was a kid, our family had a two-acre garden. Now I have hundreds of acres, maybe thousands, and a whole host of workers willing to supply me with fresh, locally grown, food. I get eggs, beef and pork from a farm that features free-walking hens and no artificial hormones in the feed grown on the farm.

“… and they taste great,” a customer at my favorite egg source said. “A lot of the eggs you buy in the store taste flat.”

Buy fresh, buy healthy, buy local. I highly recommend it.


  1. Support your local farmers market! There are a couple co-ops here but their weekly baskets are family size. Great job as always.

    Can’t believe the Supreme Court upheld the Monsanto case. Yes, I can. I try not to be negative, but I am in cases like this.

    • There’s a huge difference between knowing something and being able to prove it in court. We’ve got a lot of companies out there, each point its finger at the other, crying “prove it’s not them.”

      One day, we’ll have internal memos, as we did with asbestos an tobacco.

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