Hug a farmer

It is amazing to me that, in this day and age, we need to have a week dedicated to the value of buying local food.

It should just be common sense, but here we are ending Local Food Week across Ontario.

You know what that means, right? It’s time to hug a farmer.

Now be warned: farmers aren’t naturally huggers. They may back up to avoid contact or freeze up all together. They may run to the barn to avoid conversation, because they like solitude.

It’s okay. If they appear frightened, don’t alarm them. Just approach with caution and let them know you appreciate the work they do.

I am not a hug-seeker by nature, but I did recently hug one of my favourite farmers, Katie. She is a goat farmer in Arthur, renowned for her goat cheese recipes that are award winners, attracting a customer base far beyond our county borders. 

You’ll find her cheese on menus at a few local restaurants that support local farms too. She and her partner Will are dedicated to their craft, their farm and the protection of the land around it (and they’re cool).

So, like a total non-farmer, I asked her the dumb townie question; “So, what are you guys doing at the shop for Local Food Week?”

She looked at me with her clear blue eyes and said, smiling, “Every day is local food week for me Kelly. It’s what I do.”

Right. Stupid. What was I thinking? It’s not farmers who need a week to promote themselves on the merits of local food, it’s the consumers who need to wake up and smell the bacon – or asparagus or whatever else you’d like for breakfast.

It got me thinking. We need to make local food sexy and not just trendy or something we do because it’s right. I’m not sure that messaging works.

We have to promote local food as sexy, because it is, so my suggestion is that we change Local Food Week to Farmers-Are-Sexy Week.

Here’s my rationale: farmers are the hardest working people around. They are risk takers by nature, hard workers from birth and responsible for not only stewardship of the land, but also the health of the food system and every single one of us who depend on it. There’s a good chance they have a cool dog, too.

And they are dedicated. Rain or shine, in sickness or health, farmers show up to work. They have great tans and usually impressive upper body strength, and they drive tractors. Am I the only woman who thinks that is sexy? I seriously doubt it.

Plus, they help each other out in times of need and pull together when times are tough. Clearly I need more farmers in my life.

I won’t pretend that all my food is bought locally. I don’t always do the right thing. But when I know where my food comes from, and feel actually connected to the person or family who raised it, grew it or produced it, I do feel better about what I feed my family.

Our community is surrounded by prime farmland and we need to support our neighbours, so they can take good care of us.

Maybe don’t hug the farmers though. It freaks them out.



Kelly Waterhouse