Within a few years of rather compulsive personal interest in all the environmental, economical and social aspects of food, food-like substances and farming, I realized that I had become that dinner guest who is frequently trying to convert meat-eaters to vegetarians and asking waiters where the restaurant obtained their fish. So I took my crusade from the table to the mass email chain, where it was temporarily better received.
Spirited exchanges about how bacon was made ensued. But it wasn't long before my friends and coworkers started complaining about replies and comments overloading their email inboxes. It was time to create a site they could visit and comment without the confusion mass emails create. That was 2008. And today, although the comment threads aren't as jam-packed as I wish they were, Just Saying has a growing local, national and international audience and earned The Baltimore Sun's 2010 Outstanding Health and Wellness Blog.
Over the years, I've learned that the choices we all make about our food are as powerful, personal and debatable as religion. I have spent endless hours in discussion with avid hunters, strict vegans, locavores, omnivores, farmers and most of all: eaters. I have yet to find a human being who is completely satisfied with the food system in America. No matter their diet, almost everyone feels a tinge of guilt about the undeniable environmental impact that accompanies the limitless menu options that surround us year-round.
In order to understand the intricacies of our farm eco-systems, I decided to enroll in an agriculture program at the University of Maryland and immerse myself in the agricultural community via conferences, workshops, certificate programs and every educational opportunity that arose along the way. For every hour I spent listening to lectures about the pros and cons of the industrialization of the farm system, distribution, our diets and the associated impacts on our society, I spent another learning about the everyday pressures farmers face, and the past, present and future innovations that are changing the face of farming.
I had the honor of being the first graduate of the Sustainable Agriculture Certificate Program at UMD's Institute of Applied Agriculture, to be a Founding Farmer and remain on the Advisory Committee of the Public Health Garden, and am currently smack-dab in the middle of grazing season with the incredible goats (and people) I have the pleasure of working with through Eco-Goats (a natural solution to invasive weeds in the Maryland, DC and Virginia region).
Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned from lectures, books, conferences, people and goats along the way is that consumers are a huge and powerful piece of this puzzle. The choices you make before, during and after mealtime make a difference. Going beyond the marketing and labeling and seeking the truth of our food (and everything else we purchase) is a critical step towards a sustainable future.
I was lucky enough to find a great group of friends and colleagues committed to the same path and am proud to point invite readers, family and friends along for the next stage of this journey, our regionally-focused, globally-influenced, optimistic yet realistic Compost2theMoon blog/resource merger. (FYI, site is not yet active)
The bottom line of Just Saying has been: Ask questions, learn daily, eat consciously and conscientiously, and vote with your fork and dollars. The closer you look, the deeper your appreciation will grow - not only for food and the other essentials in life, but for the plants and animals that provide these things for us.
The bottom line of Compost2theMoon is yet to be determined because it is cyclical and does not have a beginning or end - just a few local conservationists with aligned interests who want to bring their knowledge, resources and creativity together to be a part of the environmental solutions of our time. See you there!
If you are interested in contributing to the blog, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org