When You Go Grocery Shopping, You Can Make a Difference!

When You Go Grocery Shopping, You Can Make a Difference!

When You Go Grocery Shopping, You Can Make a Difference!

Sometimes being “green” can mean a big lifestyle change or seem unfeasible. Putting solar panels on your home’s roof, for instance, may be a stretch. But others are as easy as making a simple choice when you buy your food. Imagine you’re at the store and get to yogurt on your grocery list. You see a wall lined with options, different sizes, flavors, prices and so on.

We often feel disconnected from the impact of our food choices, especially when it doesn’t seem to have a direct immediate effect. But there are tangible consequences arising with this mentality. Every year there are fewer and fewer farms, thousands less in New England than there were fifty years ago. The smaller farms left are owned and operated by an aging population of farmers. The average age of farmers in New England is 57.6, according to USDA census data. Who will take over their farms when they reach retirement age? Food is also traveling farther to reach our plates and production can be damaging to our land, water, and air.

Did you know that the milk we produce here at Wolfe’s Neck Center is all used by Stonyfield in their yogurt? When you buy Stonyfield yogurt, your purchase extends far beyond the cup, supporting local organic family farms, your community, and the soil. Stonyfield does most of their manufacturing in New Hampshire, and sources most of their milk from farms that are in the Northeast. Buying local products like Stonyfield yogurt keeps your money in the community. This means it is more likely to be re-spent and re-circulated locally.

Choosing local can be better for the environment, too. Products travel a shorter distance to end up in your shopping cart. Stonyfield takes it a step further by ensuring the farms where it sources its organic milk from are also farming for a healthier planet. Wolfe’s Neck Center uses regenerative farm practices to keep our soils full of nutrients. This means being certified organic, grazing cows on pasture, and thoughtfully monitoring the health of these pastures. When you buy food from companies that support these initiatives, you are part of sustaining a healthy landscape for the future of food and farming.

We need to revitalize small farms with the next generation of people entering the industry. The consumer demand is there—a food industry research firm found that local food sales more than doubled in the U.S. between 2008 and 2014—but there are many challenges that face younger people attempting to make a career in farming. Wolfe’s Neck Center and Stonyfield partnered in 2015 to create an organic dairy program that would address some of these startup challenges.

While the WNC herd produces over 200 gallons of milk each day to be made into Stonyfield yogurt, our organic dairy program also trains apprentices who will someday have a farm of their own. One of the apprentices explains it like this: “Here I have been able to learn and become confident in the basics to dairy farming, haying, equipment maintenance, animal health, budgeting, dairy grazing, and so much more. The whole goal of this program is to allow apprentices to learn and gain as much experience as possible so that someday we are able to own our own farms, and I feel that Wolfe’s Neck Center is giving me a direct pathway to that dream.

Next time you find yourself ogling over the many choices in the grocery aisle, think about the ripple effect that your purchase can have on our farmers, our community, and the health of our planet for future generations.

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