Story by: Sarah Nasello
Someone recently asked me what it was that made me start pursuing relationships with farmers and ranchers six years ago. I could have given an easy answer, like curiosity or a desire to further my food knowledge. But the truth is even simpler: NEED.
There is nothing quite like financial hardship to put things into perspective. Following the Great Recession and three years of having our little restaurant surrounded by floodwaters, my family’s food budget no longer had any room for foods with fancy, or fear-based, labels. Faced with the imminent closure of our business, we simply didn’t have the means to be choosy or worry about what other people might think.
I’d followed all the media hype and believed that feeding my family “clean” food meant that I had to purchase foods that were organic, grass-fed, and non-GMO. This was already challenging due to Fargo’s limited offerings at the time, and our waning food budget had made it impossible. Even thinking of it now, several years later, I can feel the heat of shame creeping its way up my neck. The only way to reconcile myself to this new reality was to pursue the other side of the food coin.
Through opportunities like Banquet in a Field and events at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge, we began to meet folks who grow GMO crops, raise grain-fed cattle, and produce GMO seeds. Folks like Julie Peterson and Joe Breker, who were more than happy to answer our questions, show us their farms and ease our minds about the safety of modern food production. Folks we now call friends.
Thankfully, our circumstances have improved since those cash-strapped days. I could return to a world of reading labels and buying organic produce, if I wanted to. But, over the years I’ve learned to value the food I buy on a whole new level, as well as the people who produce it. I’d much prefer to leave the guilt behind and buy what’s best for my family. And there’s no shame in that.
Have a safe, happy and guilt-free Halloween!
JOIN THE CONVERSATION! Have you ever experienced food shame? Do you worry about foods made from GMO crops or produced by conventional farming means (non-organic)? I would love to hear your story. Please share in the REPLY section below or send me an email to email@example.com.