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Thank a farmer

Being from a farm state, I'm interested in where our food comes from. (I mean, everyone is, right? at least to some extent.) Even so, as a kid, I rarely saw vegetables that weren't wrapped in plastic: South Dakota grows corn & soybeans, not fruits & veggies. I can't think of any truck farms around Sioux Falls, although we used to drive way across town to an occasional farmers market; but what did we buy? (As an aside, the one summer my mother had a little garden, she grew potatoes.)

Now I live in NYC, with frequent access to farmers markets that sell everything you can eat (emu eggs, purple carrots, heirloom tomatoes, you name it), wool from their own goats, meat, eggs, wheatgrass, maple syrup, honey from the beekeepers, & on & on. It's expensive, no doubt, & what would make it better would be lots more farmers growing lots more healthy food for lots more people.

Well, that isn't likely to happen, according to a piece in the Times. Here's an excerpt:

"Though the farms best suited for our vegetables were protected from development by conservation easements, we discovered that we couldn’t compete, because conserved farmland is open to all buyers — millionaires included.

"Easements are intended to protect farmland, water, animal habitat, historic sites and scenic views, and so they are successful in keeping farms from becoming malls and subdivisions. But they don’t stop Wall Street bankers from turning them into private getaways, with price tags to match.

"Few bankers farm; long days with little pay lack appeal. A new report by the National Young Farmers Coalition, a group we helped start, reveals that one-quarter of the land trusts that oversee these conservation easements have seen protected land go out of production. Why? A nonfarmer had bought it."

The authors go on to offer some sound suggestions about how better to protect our precious farmland.
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