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Whitney Hess is raising $30K for Farm Aid for her 30th birthday

There is only one thing I want for my 30th birthday: to save America’s farms.

That’s why I’m raising $30K for Farm Aid.

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.

Please find it in your heart to help me get to $30K raised for Farm Aid.

Thank you for supporting me in this journey. Your contribution, your advocacy and your encouragement are so deeply appreciated.

With all my love,
Whitney

More information

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, The Chicago Tribune, September 1985

U.S. Will Stress Farm-Aid Issues in Global Talks, The 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

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  • http://yuda.org Yuda

    What do you do about coffee, chocolate, bananas, etc.? That’s always tricky for me.

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog whitney

      Ooh so glad you asked, John. I actually don’t drink coffee and rarely eat bananas (when I do, I at least try to make sure they’re organic). Chocolate is a huge exception for me and could be considered hypocritical — hey, I’m a woman, I need my chocolate. But I do try very hard to only buy fair trade. Green & Black’s is a great example. I haven’t made the commitment to be 100% local yet with no exceptions, but I’m getting closer bit by bit.

      • Yuda

        That’s farther than I’ve gone. I eat locally and seasonally to the extent possible, but especially in winter I get things that don’t grow here like citrus, other tropical fruit, etc. And of course I drink a fair bit of coffee. Organic/fair trade/shade grown helps.

        The big point of failure for me is alcohol. I have a good local brewery (Port City), but Virginia wine is not so great and the aren’t many spirits distilled here (and the quality of those is mixed).

  • http://darlasawler.com Darla

    Wondering what the magic was in coming up with the 100 miles number. Arbitrary?

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog whitney

      Darla, 100 miles comes from the original book that started the whole locavore movement, The 100-Mile Diet. Its authors say that “a 100-mile radius is large enough to reach beyond a big city and small enough to feel truly local.” So yes, it’s a bit arbitrary, but it’s also meaningful. I feel like it’s a nice round number to gauge by, but I don’t get our a map every time I buy something. I just stick to the state I’m in and its bordering neighbors.

  • http://tjic.com TJIC

    > I’m a locavore

    This is an exceptionally silly stance.

    Transportation costs are a miniscule portion of the cost of food, whether you’re measuring cost in dollars, carbon, labor, or anything else.

    It is often cheaper, in every sense, to consume foods that are grown far away, in natural environments that are optimized for growing a particular food, and then ship it via drop-dead inexpensive means, than it is to grow it locally.

    Beyond that, locavorism puts pressure on the scare resource of “land near cities”. This leads to lunatic ideas like urban farming – ignoring the vast swaths of the country (and world) that are far away from cities, and using the absolute most expensive resource imaginable – urban real estate -for a very very low value activity.

    Please investigate locavorism before buying into an ideology that destroys value and impoverishes society.

  • http://hspsfarm.blogspot.com/ Anita

    Hey Whitney I think this is one of the most fantastic ways to celebrate your 30th birthday!

    I’d love to invite you to come visit my Youth Farm in Brooklyn. My students and I grow and sell produce on one acre about 3.3 miles from Park Slope…the most local of local:) We’ve got a farmers market, CSA memberships and volunteer days and would love to have you out!

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog whitney

      Anita, omg! Yes! Please provide the details here or via email. I would absolutely love to come and participate. How fantastic. Thank you so much for reaching out.