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Food and Environment 2 (Wednesday’s Post)

2014 July 9

Hi everyone! I hope our final week of class is treating you all well!

“We form affective bonds with place. We dwell in it. It is where we live our lives, and it is more than the scene upon which our lives unfold.” -Edward Casey


I want to start this post off by asking everyone, do you know where your food comes from?  If any of you are like me, then the answer, for the most part, is no.  As college students on a budget, I think it is safe to say that the majority of us have had our fair share of processed and packaged foods due to their low prices and deliciousness…. but what are we eating and where is it coming from? We have all sat at restaurants and failed to ask our waiter or waitress where our food is coming from and while there is a rising popularity to eat locally and farm-raised foods in restaurants and at home, the overall stat is that “most Americans do not know where their food comes from (or the conditions under which is was produced) and, often through no fault of their own, rarely are they encouraged to inquire,” (Spurlock, pg. 9).

Spurlock’s article speaks about the Piedmont Farm Tour, that has been going on since 1992, in efforts to spread awareness and educate the public about where their food comes from.  The food tourism connects each visitor to their own understanding of where they are and their importance in the interdependent ecological and economic network.  These tours take place in order to save the disappearing farmlands in North Carolina because with the rise in developments, property taxes and land values, the farms are becoming no longer profitable.  Sustainable farming, which in its simplest form, is the rejection of any industrial approach to food production, would be nearly impossible if it wasn’t for agri-tourism.  Sprawls, or unsustainable developments, are overtaking North Carolina’s farmland, but farmer’s and anti-sprawl advocates, are struggling to fight back but the Piedmont Farm Tour provides a new perspective to the problem.  Spurlock states that, “to experience this tour is to experience those values toward the land, labor, and community through shared storytelling, discussion, and sensory-based exploration and discovery that invite connection and self-reflexivity,” (pg. 12).


I think that the best part of the tours is the fact that they are all self-guided.  The CFSA does not tell Piedmont Farm Tours how to run their tours in order to produce the same common knowledge amongst all visitors.  The CFSA encourages each of the 30 farms participating to be creative in their ability to spread their knowledge.  At each site on the tour, farmers explained to the tourists the harsh realities of  resource and water shortage, global warming, trade deficits, and food security through their own personal experiences.  Each tour aims to make a critical intervention that questions unsustainable practices.

The good news is that, even though the article provides numerous warnings, Spurlock believes that there is still time to save the farms if society acts accordingly.  Do you agree with Spurlock?  Do we have enough time?  What do you think could be done to save sustainable farming practices? Do you think that unsustainable food practices should exist? Why or why not?

I tried not to make this post insanely long because I know everybody is swamped with their final papers but I hope you enjoyed it!


12 Responses leave one →
  1. Maggie Roth permalink
    July 9, 2014

    Just like Cassidy said, I think the majority of us don’t always know where our food comes from and this is due to many reasons. I think first and foremost, people aren’t as concerned with food’s origin because up until the last decade or two, the food industry was sort of a mystery to the average person. Now however, because of movies like Food Inc., and the article we read for today, people are starting to be more aware and curious. This curiosity is jump starting a change by providing education to the public. For both health and environmental reasons I believe that sustainable farming should be implemented and unsustainable farming should be changed. The farmers’ accounts of the negative effects of unsustainable farming practices should be brought to the attention of the government because does need to be changed in order to reverse this effects.

    I think Spurlock is right in his assertion that change can happen and I think the Piedmont Farm Tours is a thriving example of a step in the right direction. I think consumers play a much larger role than they imagine because we do have a say in what we spend our money on. Being more cautious and knowledgeable about farming practices is just one easy way everyone can make a difference.

    • Robert Bamsey permalink
      July 9, 2014

      I agree with Maggie that the consumers have more say in the process than we think, but only in masses. I also agree that we should ban unsustainable farming practices. The only way to truly change the system as it is right now is to stop purchasing the cheapest items of food available, but it would have to be a large mass of people that makes the change together. Also, to refuse products that are known to be produced inhumanely or under unsustainable practices are another way that the consumer can combat the big business that controls the quality of food we are provided.

    • Charlotte Harnad permalink
      July 9, 2014

      Maggie, you make some really great points. I do not know a single college kid who knows exactly where all of their food comes from. Us students like to purchase as much food as we can for the lowest prices, so we have a lot of processed and pre-made food in our diets. It all feeds into the cycle of convenience and cheapness vs. time and quality. I do agree that food origin used to not be as large of a concern. However, with more publications and studies based on the food industry there has certainly been a boom within the industry and study of food in America. I also feel as if the country’s bad reputation for poor health has contributed to escalating the intense studies and emotions that are felt when discussing how poor of a diet the country has. I certainly agree with you that we need to implement sustainable farming and get a hold on the factory-like farms that exist today.

  2. Carolyn Girondo permalink
    July 9, 2014

    Good post! I once read an article about the average distance your food traveled just to get to your plate and it was crazy to see (of course I can’t remember mine specifically) but you can imagine if any of your food is from another country or “alaskan salmon” it had to of traveled far. Being conscientious of those things really make you change your eating habits too. It’s not just bad agricultural practices that are the problem but the mere distance food has to travel is a waste of fuel and only adds to the environmental decay of our world.

    • Cassidy Clayton permalink
      July 9, 2014

      Carolyn – I think there was a statistic in the article claiming that our food, on average, travels 1500 miles from farm to market. That is absolutely bonkers! I can’t even imagine the change in taste and value that the food goes through during that time.

      Here is a very interesting article concerning our food travels if anybody is interested:

      The article compares how far certain terminal food items travel versus farmer’s market food. For example, apples travel 1,555 miles compared to 105 miles. It is a ridiculous margin of difference.

  3. Lindsay Kagalis permalink
    July 9, 2014

    I really love the fact that these farms have taken the initiative to have the tours in order to really raise awareness about where our food comes from. When I actually began really thinking about it, it makes me reconsider a lot of my future buying purchases because I now really want to know exactly where my food is coming from. I always try to go to the farmers market or to the Co-Op, but let’s face it, sometimes it’s a lot easier to just run to Food Lion to grab a well known brand food product when I’m in a rush and don’t have a lot of money to spend at the moment. Agri-tourism is definitely very intriguing to me, and I would personally like to dive in a little deeper to learn some more about it. It really hit me to bring in the sense of community within these tours. Our culture has become so individualized that people forget that they are a part of a community where ever they live. It is important to give back to your community, especially when they are providing food for everyone (like farmers markets and local food stores). That’s something that I have taken into my own hands here in Harrisonburg with our local food marts and the JMU community. I really liked this post, good luck in our last week!

    • Charlotte Harnad permalink
      July 9, 2014

      I definitely agree with a lot of what you said. It is really impressive that farms have began to provide tours to let the public know exactly where their food comes from. It really serves as a reality shock to the people where their food comes from, how it is raised, where, and opens their eyes to the topic of not knowing where all of their food comes from. Providing tours also helps people realize that they do not know where a large majority of their food comes from, and typically leaves them shocked and slightly appalled when they begin to research the topic of food industry and factory-like farms. The largest thing holding the nation back from becoming more sustainable is the need/desire for convenience. You do have a really good point that many people wish to just get something already made or something quick and cheap to save time after getting off of work and/or not having that large of a budget. I think it is a problem that is slowly escalating because of multiple factors, including the economy and large companies taking advantage of the public. The best thing for the public to do is to know where a majority of their food comes from.

  4. Maggie Roth permalink
    July 9, 2014

    Cassidy- I love the link you posted for CUESA. It is crazy to think that the global market has created the food industry into a global market as well. I can’t believe the distances food travels just so that we can eat a piece of fruit. What is more unhinging is the amount of damage this excess transportation does to our environment. The bulleted points written in the article demonstrate how much energy could be saved and less pollution caused if we only had more localized food markets.

  5. Robert Bamsey permalink
    July 9, 2014

    I really think that agricultural tourism is an interesting topic, especially because I have worked at multiple wineries and worked specifically in the vines for a little as well. Being surrounded by people in the wine industry has showed me all of the hardships that farmers face when trying to grow their product. The wineries I have worked at have grown their grapes in a manner that is not harmful to the land around them, but can only grow a limited amount because of that. I feel that in order to change the system from big farms producing low quality high volume products should be changed to many different smaller farms producing lower quantities but organic and high quality products.

    • Alina Clark permalink
      July 10, 2014

      Robert, that is SO COOL that you worked in wineries! And I think you make an excellent point and I completely agree with you. I think that a lot of small farms each producing a little bit of organic high quality product is an excellent strategy to implement for the long term success of sustainable farming. I think that part of the struggle with farms is trying to produce the same quantity of real food that factories produce of fake processed food. It’s just not possible.

  6. Charlotte Harnad permalink
    July 9, 2014

    I try to know where a lot of my food comes from when I am at home. As I stated previously this week, I live in the countryside where there are a lot of farmers markets, farms, and neighbors that trade their food out of kindness, so a lot of the time we will have a large majority of our food either be locally grown or cooked. I always try to go to Let’s Go on campus at JMU once a week because it actually displays a map of exactly where your food came from, which is incredibly reassuring and impressive to see at such a large university (it’s also very delicious). It is rather difficult for college kids to be able to afford all of the ‘healthy food,’ but in all honesty it does not exactly cost a lot more to eat healthy. If there was more information provided to college students on how to eat healthier and have a healthier life, there would be a lot better decisions made that could contribute to the expansion of sustainable farming and local food awareness.

    I think that Spurlock has a great idea. Educating the public about food is exactly what the country needs. We are currently number 2 in the world for being the fattest country, which is ridiculous considering how many resources we have. There are so many people in this country, yet many spend the least amount of money on food as possible for convenience and ignorant reasons. If they were to gain an education concerning nutrition, this could possibly change and help many adopt healthier lifestyles around the country. I do believe that this can happen, but it will need quite a long time to develop.

    • Stephen Klier II permalink
      July 11, 2014

      Im all about the food education point. I talked about this in my paper about how schools teach sex ed but wont teach about how bad foods can be for you. Education is the key to absolving ignorance. When kids see what 5 lbs of fat looks like, that’s when they will learn how to choose healthy options. No one taught me how to choose foods or eat healthy..and I turned out the worst for it

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