There is only one thing I want for my 30th birthday: to save America's farms.
Something that many people may not know about me is that I'm a locavore – the vast majority of the food that I eat is locally grown and produced. This means I don't buy food that comes in plastic containers and is flown on a plane to get to me. Not only is it bad for the environment, it's bad for our health; food loses its nutrients as it travels and what we end up eating is no longer food at all.
Our planet was designed to enable us to survive by yielding food from the earth. For thousands of years, we only ate what could be produced from our immediate surroundings, season by season. Nowadays we're used to eating food that comes from outside of our local ecology at an off time of year. Think about the implications that has on your body and on the earth as a whole.
Instead, I choose to buy my food from farmers' markets and the grocery stores that support them. I eat at restaurants that indicate where their ingredients come from. I check package labels to see where the food was grown and where it was processed and distributed, and put things back on the shelf that came from further than 100 miles away.
But in order for me to keep eating local, food needs to keep growing locally. It is on family farms that the healthiest, best tasting, most dynamic foods are grown. The foods we are meant to be eating. The food that comes from the earth and not from a machine or chemistry lab.
Thousands of family farmers in the United States are pushed off their land every year. As large factory farms are replacing them, the quality of our food is severely diminished, and our environment and our food security is in danger.
Before we know it, we could have nothing left. And it will be our generation's fault for not stopping it.
That is why I'm dedicating my 30th birthday to raising $30,000 to Farm Aid, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on their land.
Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. Dave Matthews joined the Farm Aid Board of Directors in 2001. Farm Aid has raised more than $39 million to promote a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture.
Thank you for supporting me in this journey. Your contribution, your advocacy and your encouragement are so deeply appreciated.
With all my love,
If you wish to better educate yourself about the issues, here are a few key links:
About Farm Aid
Farm Aid Cause Has a Tough Row to Hoe, Chicago Tribune, September 1985
U.S. Will Stress Farm-Aid Issues in Global Talks, New York Times, March 1987
A Letter from Willie Nelson to President-Elect Barack Obama, November 2008
Lawmakers reject Obama plan to cut farm aid, The Washington Times, February 2009
Farm Aid benefit to put spotlight on agricultural issues in September concert in Hershey, Pa., The Washington Post, July 2012