Carroll County Fresh, a local advocacy organization that promotes small farms and farmers, is holding its annual meeting on January 17th at Christview Ministries out on Rocky Top Road. Jon Toombs, a CCF Board member and farmer out Green Forest way says, "Anyone interested in food and where it comes from is invited."
Jon's invitation has two parts which may make it a little complicated. Nearly everybody is interested in food--100% of us eat--but it doesn't seem like a whole lot of folks care about where the food comes from. About 80% of everything we eat here in Arkansas is trucked in from out of state, including, believe it or not, poultry. Do we really care?
Judging by the long lines at the Evil Retail Giant out on the edge of town, we don't care very much--if we care at all. One reason is that most of us living in Carroll County are at the lower end of income scales, or are on fixed incomes and believe we can't spend a lot on fresh food. Another reason is time; it takes time to prepare fresh food, and fresh food isn't always available. Many of us opt for the convenience of processed and packaged food because our lives as so busy.
Consequently, kids in Arkansas are among the fattest in the United States. So are their parents. We are also league leaders in high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, and myriad other diet related disease. Seventy-five percent (75%) of people between the ages of 17 and 25 are, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette unfit for military service due to the lack of a high school diploma, a criminal record, or because they are flat out physically unfit for service. In other words, we're not raising too many Sgt. Yorks' or Audie Murphys.
Since we're doing a pretty good job of killing ourselves by plate and spoon, our politicians can stop worrying about death panels, or about whether Exxon Mobil and Monsanto are getting enough corn subsidy money, and can start worrying about the fact that we can't raise an army because we're all 4-F.
In the meantime, Carroll County Fresh is worried about it, and they're doing something about it as well. Their activities include helping people become farmers, supplying local restaurants and cafes with local produce, extending the growing seasons on their farms with greenhouses and high tunnels, and making sure that our Farmers' Markets are vital and sustainable access points for healthy, locally produced food.
Carroll County Fresh is also interested in educating the public about the economic and health benefits derived from buying and eating locally. In 2010, CCF sponsored or attended several health fairs, provided talks and lectures to civic groups, and wrote and produced a weekly radio program, The Ozark Harvest Radio Hour which featured interviews with local farmers and business leaders.
Richard Pille, who along with his wife Jane own and operate Storage Solutions on Holiday Island, said, "Carroll County Fresh's main goal is to make sure that folks have consistent supplies of fresh, local, and affordable food.
"The old saying--no farms, no food--is absolutely the truth," Richard said. "Jane and I support CCF and are proud of the way it promotes local businesses and local farms because we don't want to live in a place where everything has to be trucked in. We're a self-reliant, self-sustaining people, and CCF helps us all stay that way."
Carroll County Fresh holds its Annual Meeting at Christview Ministries on January 17th, 2011 beginning at 10:00 AM. For directions or more information, contact Judy Turner at 479-253-5865. Anyone interested in food--and where it comes from--should attend.