Our next stop on the Reboot Express was Harrisonburg, Virginia, a historic town established in the late 1700’s and located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. There, we visited the Downtown Farmers’ Market, one of the oldest and best fresh-food markets in the country. To me, it even stacks up to the one in Union Square back in Manhattan. I met up with Marlin and Christine Buckholder, the Mennonite owners of the local organic Glen Eco Farm. They invited me to tour the farm, and it was an eye-opener.
Beside’s admiring their operation, I was immediately struck by their commitment to what they were doing. Growing organics involves a lot of intensive manual labor and is a hard climb from a financial point of view, for all kinds of reasons. While it’s now changing a bit for the better, government agricultural subsidies still greatly favor big agro-businesses over small farmers, and many of the tax breaks and other incentives in the food industry go to the meat dairy businesses. Ever wonder why a salad costs more than a Big Mac? It is because the amount of money being handed out in the form of subsidies to the meat and dairy industries is way out of whack in comparison to what fruit and vegetable growers get. Price-wise it’s just not a fair fight for fruit and vegetable farmers, and it’s consumers who end up with the short end of the stick. But since those subsidies began to be put in place sixty or so years ago, heart disease has risen exponentially. If we consumers had to pay unsubsidized prices for meat, we would probably be eating a lot less of it and heart disease might not be America’s number one killer.
This is a key issue I hope my film addresses. Since fruits and vegetables were the basis of my Reboot, which was saving my life, it was only natural I stick up for them.