Friday, December 16, 2011

My first time blogging

After finishing my final exams, i commenced my research on rural women and agriculture. I want to look at fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores and supermarkets. Is it the local farmers that provide the fruits and vegetables? or is it big companies? and how much of it is imported?
With these questions in mind i began searching about the number of women farmers in the United States. According to the USDA 2007 Census of Agriculture, "more than 30 percent of U.S farm operators are women." This census is done every five years. The 2002 Census had women operators at 22%. I am happy that the percentage has increased. I spent a day just wandering through the USDA website. I ended up on International Agricultural Trade among the U.S, Canada and Mexico. I learned that the United States exports and imports a lot in the agriculture sector. The U.S value of agricultural exports are around $93 billion and its imports around $73billion. The agriculture sector is a growing sector as the population of the world increases and as more middle classes are rising in the Emerging markets, such as, China, India, Brazil, South Korea, South Africa, Russia and more.
I went to the farmers market with my friend Hazel about two weeks ago. I talked to a few women there. Some work on the family farm and others sell the produce for the farmers. The prices for the fruits and vegetables were very good. I bought a lot and was very happy. I pitied the years i purchased fruits and vegetables at Food Lion, Wal-mart and Grand Asia. The fruits and vegetables i got from the farmers market did not go bad after 3 to 4 days. I knew for years that F&V at the grocery stores are sprayed with preservatives when they are taken from the farm, transported through planes, trucks or trains, and displayed nicely in stores. By the time we buy that lettuce, orange or banana, it is 1-2 weeks old, but looks perfect and fresh. Ever since i went to that farmers market i have changed and made a promise to myself to buy locally grown as much as i can. I am in Michigan for the break. My friend and I drove about 1 hour to buy F&V that is locally grown in Michigan. It has been a week and it has not rotten.

As a solution to the problems faced by local farmers, I asked Meg Phipps to give me names of organizations. I ended up choosing the Produce Box. It was founded by a woman named Courtney Tellefsen.

Their mission is "We deliver locally grown farm-fresh produce and products to your door every week during our North Carolina growing season. We are committed to working with North Carolina farmers only (the main reason we started the program) and don't ship in products from other states or countries. Join us and become part of our "community of families" who enjoy delicious fruits and vegetables, eat healthier each week and support our farm neighbors"

I have copy pasted this from their website.

1. Get as much farm-fresh, field grown produce as possible into the local food system.

2. Make it easy, convenient and affordable.

3. Help local farmers reduce waste by having them “pick to order”.

4. Use more than one farm to provide the most variety and best quality fruits and vegetables the area has to offer.

5. Keep operating costs REALLY LOW by using neighborhood coordinators and deliverers and pass those savings on to the members.

I contacted Courtney and asked her permission to use her organization as an example. We will talk on skype in a few weeks and meet in person after i return to North Carolina. So far it is going well. One area i need more info is about farmers and rural women farmers in NC. I have started looking at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.