Deadline Now: Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Deadline Now: Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Friday, August 16, 2013

Carol Goland, Executive Director of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), and Mike Laughlin, a Certified Organic Farmer and owner of Northridge Organic Farm in Johnstown, Ohio, Licking County, discuss OEFFA, efforts to support organic farmers, and much more in this edition of "Deadline Now."

OEFFA was formed in 1979 and is a membership-based, grassroots organization, dedicated to promoting and supporting sustainable, ecological and healthful food systems. OEFFA's membership includes farmers, consumers, gardeners, chefs, teachers, researchers, teachers and students.

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Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

For many years, I doubt that most of us thought much about where our food came from. This was certainly true when I was growing up, and even into the 1970s and 80s.

We all read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, about the horrible conditions in turn-of-the-twentieth century slaughterhouses. We assumed, however, that good government reforms and the U.S. Agriculture Department made sure there were no abuses.

Then, however, I became a journalist, and learned things at first really didn’t want to know, about chemicals being pumped into meat that was already shot full of steroids and other unnatural products.

We learned about genetically modified “Frankenfoods” and heard about disasters such as the mid-1970s episode in Michigan, where a chemical fire retardant known as PBB somehow got mixed into cattle feed.  Virtually everyone in Michigan has some of it in their bodies today, and there is no agreement on the long-term effects.

But while we don’t know precisely how some chemicals may affect us, it stands to reason that food grown as naturally as possible, ought to be better for us. So, in most cases, should be food that is naturally grown and harvested as close to where we live as possible.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions, or that nobody in Toledo should ever eat an imported banana. But it does mean we need to start thinking more long-term about a lot of things, including every stage of our food industry. That includes how it is grown or raised to whether those involved in the food industry can make a decent living in an ethical way. There is no justification for immense gross factory farms which produce as much waste as an entire city.

Nor should we rest easy about eating food that is irradiated or pumped full of chemicals. What we are doing now in terms of food is neither healthy nor sustainable, and that should worry us all.

Many years ago, the folk singer Joni Mitchell sang a song called Big Yellow Taxi, which is famous mostly for the line, “They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot.” 

But the line from the song that always stuck in my head goes: “Hey, farmer, farmer put away the DDT now. Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees.” Healthier food is increasingly making more sense for us all.