Is local organic food a basic human right?

Today I decided to take action and lay down my assumptions about WIC (Women, Infants and Children).  I don’t want to fill out the paper work (the process takes forever), be in another government program, and of course the processed foods aren’t worth it.  But, we are at that place where it is necessary.  And “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

I am glad I did.  For those who don’t know, this government program is designed to help low income nutritionally at risk  women and children ( some seniors).  They provide selected food items, nutrition education, and screenings.

Assumptions that I made based on others experience with WIC in Oregon:

1.  Milk,eggs, and cheese: if you go through these fast, it is worth going through the application process

2.  The other food items are usually processed

3. They are invasive with your medical records and hold monthly screenings *this is concerning because we do not vaccinate and have many questions about the westernized medical approach….

With this said, I became extremely interested in the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition program.   This program began with the help of Congress in 1992 to “provide fresh, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables to WIC participants, and to expand the awareness, use of, and sales at farmers’ markets.”  I could have danced around the house!  A chance to eat local and organic food!!!

This is what I found:

Grant Levels by Stat FY 2005-2010

STATE AGENCY

FY 2005

FY 2006

FY 2007

FY 2008

FY 2009

FY 2010

ALABAMA ***

$506,666

$428,980

$393,238

$380,323

$392,164

$137,252

ALASKA

290,029

245,559

225,100

217,707

224,485

224,485

ARIZONA

303,333

256,824

235,426

227,694

234,783

234,783

ARKANSAS

245,000

207,434

190,151

183,906

189,632

189,632

CALIFORNIA

3,097,875

2,622,887

2,404,358

2,325,395

2,397,794

2,499,368

CHOCTAW NATION, OK*

*

**

**

**

**

**

90,361

CHICKASAW NATION,OK

80,000

75,000

75,000

75,000

75,000

75,000

CONNECTICUT

409,879

347,033

318,120

307,672

317,251

330,690

D.C.

389,276

329,589

302,128

292,205

301,302

314,066

FIVE SANDOVAL

6,337

6,337

6,337

6,337

6,337

6,337

FLORIDA

366,543

310,342

284,486

275,143

283,709

283,709

GEORGIA

1,309,243

1,102,499

1,016,142

982,769

1,013,366

1,056,293

GUAM

123,457

104,527

95,818

92,671

95,556

95,556

ILLINOIS

500,000

423,337

388,066

375,321

387,006

403,400

INDIANA

328,410

278,055

254,888

246,517

254,192

264,960

IOWA

641,320

542,988

497,748

481,400

496,388

517,416

KENTUCKY

290,000

245,535

225,077

217,685

224,462

224,462

LOUISIANA

**

6,667

6,667

6,667

6,667

6,667

6,667

MAINE

85,000

75,000

75,000

75,000

75,000

75,000

MARYLAND

441,000

373,382

342,273

331,032

341,338

355,798

MASSACHUSETTS

607,229

514,124

471,289

455,810

470,001

489,911

MICHIGAN

515,490

436,452

400,088

386,948

398,995

415,897

MINNESOTA

396,667

335,847

307,865

297,754

307,024

320,030

MISSISSIPPI

86,766

75,000

75,000

75,000

75,000

78,177

MISSOURI

**

**

235,713

227,972

235,070

**

MS. CHOCTAWS

14,500

14,500

14,500

14,500

14,500

15,114

MONTANA

57,353

57,353

57,353

57,353

57,353

59,782

N. CAROLINA

365,470

309,433

283,652

274,336

282,877

282,877

NEW HAMPSHIRE

139,047

117,727

107,918

104,373

107,623

107,623

NEW JERSEY

1,586,411

1,343,170

1,231,261

1,190,823

1,227,898

1,279,913

NEW MEXICO

392,891

332,650

304,934

294,919

304,101

304,101

NEW YORK

4,452,384

3,769,708

3,455,625

3,342,131

3,446,188

3,593,015

OHIO

672,288

569,208

521,783

504,646

520,358

542,401

OREGON

472,500

400,053

366,722

354,678

365,721

381,213

OSAGE NATION

31,325

31,325

31,325

31,325

31,325

31,325

PENNSYLVANIA

2,312,386

1,957,834

1,794,715

1,735,773

1,789,814

1,865,634

PUEBLO OF SAN FELIPE

8,666

8,666

8,666

8,666

8,666

8,666

PUERTO RICO

2,333,613

1,975,806

1,811,188

1,751,703

1,806,240

1,882,755

RHODE ISLAND

196,796

166,621

152,739

147,723

152,322

152,322

S. CAROLINA

166,235

140,747

129,021

124,784

128,669

128,669

TENNESSEE

96,000

81,000

75,000

75,000

75,000

78,177

TEXAS

1,650,000

1,397,010

1,280,615

1,238,556

1,277,117

1,277,117

VERMONT

75,676

75,000

75,000

75,000

75,000

78,177

VIRGINIA

387,952

328,468

301,101

291,212

**

**

WASHINGTON

760,000

643,471

589,859

570,486

588,247

613,166

WEST VIRGINIA

70,000

70,000

70,000

70,000

70,000

72,965

WISCONSIN

799,309

676,753

620,368

599,993

618,673

644,881

TOTALS

$28,066,989

$23,809,901

$22,109,323

$21,401,908

$21,750,214

$22,089,143

* New State agency ** Did not participate in the program *** State agency reduced grant amount for FY10

I scroll up and down, up and down!  There must be something wrong with the website, Boulder is obsessed with eating local and organic food!  And our Farmer’s market is, amazing.  There is even the 10% local food shift pledge.  Nope.  So I called the office.

The contents of a fruit and vegetable box from...

Image via Wikipedia

I talked to a lovely southern woman and I think she was a little surprised by my interest.  She had some great insight.  For almost 20 years Colorado is still trying to meet the funds.  Congress will meet 100% of the food costs and 70% of the administration costs, the 30% of administrative costs are left for Colorado to come up with.

In 2009, 17,543 farmers, 3,635 farmers’ markets and 2,662 roadside stands were authorized to accept this program- the coupons were cashed in for $20 million for farmers.

I was also told that Colorado is in the testing process of this program- a “pilot” is what she called it.  and that it is a lengthy process.  What was most encouraging in the conversation was when she told me that often times she worries if it’s a waste of time, that people on the other end would not even care about this topic.  She thanked me for calling, that I gave her “new motivation.”

I told her that nothing brings me more satisfaction then growing produce myself.  To not depend on the grocery store.  I dream of the day of being self sustained.  I dream of  the day when my children pick their own home grown strawberries.  She said something to me that gives me hope and encouragement that I am on the right path, “with people in the world like you this could happen.”

In the meantime, how can I help the process of providing myself and other low income families local and organic food? Is local organic, unprepared food a basic right?  It just feels wrong walking into the grocery store and having to choose between organic and processed because of money.  It just feels wrong to know that I can grow my own herbs and produce and yet I go to the store.  It just feels wrong to know that the fight for food and hunger is going on in the world around me.  How can I (this one stay at home mom) convince Congress that nutrition, and the right to nutritious local foods is essential to a healthy lifestyle?  Maybe if Americans would say no to processed foods and fast choices, and live passionately for healthy local eating life could change for themselves and for others.  maybe.

Sources:

http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/FMNP/FMNPfaqs.htm

http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/FMNP/FMNPgrantlevels.htm

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2 thoughts on “Is local organic food a basic human right?

  1. Awesome post!! I see (my state) Oklahoma is not on the participation list, unless the Osage Nation is in this area. My husband and I have two gardens. I also raise and dry many of my own herbs. What we buy at the store is mainly “clean” and organic if I can find it. My husband is a hunter so we benefit from “clean” meats most of the year as well. Our government makes it difficult to change the mind-set of a meat hungry and processed foods nation. I like being a part of changing process, to go organic and find a healthier way of living.

    I am really enjoying your blog!!

    • Thank you! I am really enjoying your blog as well, your deer Daisy is beautiful! and your garden looks stunning. I have been thinking about drying our own herbs. What is the process in that? I bet the “clean” meats that your husband hunts is delicious, what does he like to hunt? Our government has created quite the veil of ignorance in processed foods. The repercussions of living in a processed world can make it so difficult to choose a “whole” lifestyle. It is easy to think one person’s choice doesn’t make a difference, but the impact is far greater than we can ever imagine. Cheers to striving towards an healthier way of living.

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