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Food Insecurity, What is the Solution?

I asked a classroom of 3rd graders “Where does your food come from?” Molly, an ambitious 9-year-old, blurted out “That’s easy. Publix!”   

Molly as well as many of us connect Publix with food which is a common misconception. We have become so far removed from our food that we have forgotten that food comes from farms. Truth be told, food comes from greenhouses, warehouses and even laboratories now. Traditional farm fields and pastures have been eliminated from the picture almost entirely. Grocery aisles have been planted instead of farm rows.    

So, what has happened to the farmer? Do they still feed us? Do they still plant trees to shade us? Are they still the facilitators of oxygen? 

Farmers still do all these things and more.  

Florida farms are quite prevalent. If fact they make up two thirds of the state’s land mass. In 2021, when asked by the public, not Publix, their favorite occupation, farm/agriculture raked top with 69% favorability. Most of us are familiar with farms through movies, television shows and a jaunt into the country.  

The sight of a wide vista with polka doted cows or a corn maze in the fall bring a nostalgic feeling. The only time a visceral connection with a farm occurs is when farmland is being threatened by rapid development. We are jolted out of our complacent mindset when the pasture is replaced with cleared baron land.   

As a community, how do we save our farms? How do we advocate for farmers?  

How do we keep farms a place to produce our food? Firstly, on the statewide level, we support opening Port Miami and Port Everglades for importing and exporting agriculture goods instead of having them shipped to Savanah to get into Florida. Secondly, we collectively treat legal foreign workers with respect and humanity. They are working for us, doing jobs that are a vital part of our economy. Thirdly, we advocate for legal foreign workers to live on premises. This cuts down on transportation and congesting and increases individual safety. Four, we allow solutions from farmers since they are the one’s closest to our foods. Regenerative farming along with better management practices in keeping organic matter/compost on premises is key. And, lastly on a national level, we advocate for farmers to have the right to fix their own equipment.   

Or we become farmers.   

I did just that.  

I have firsthand felt the pressures of selling the farm. The hard work put in to work the land and become food secure to the point of sustainable have made it difficult to stay in the business. When you get right down to it, farmers are resilient. Farmers are solution finders.   

They are closest to the Earth. They symbiotically work with the Earth and their yield is our food. In a changing environment, farmers find balance in nature to simultaneously increase air quality and feed the community. They are magical.  

Next time you are in a grocery store be reminded no foods are planted or ever grow there. Farmers are the magicians, scientists and even balance makers of our food chain. Next time you are in a Publix be reminded most of the foods are planted, picked, and packaged by legal foreign workers.   

On March 19, 2024, we have a chance to celebrate National AG Day to honor the ones who produce our food, keep us cool and keep us with plenty of oxygen. In association with the City of Groveland and Keep Lake Beautiful, we are bringing awareness to this day. Farms in South Lake County will display yard signs to bring awareness to Farmers.

Also check out my article at the Clermont Sun.

Banks standing and smiling for a headshot in a suit with arms crossed

Banks Helfrich

Candidate for Florida House,
District 25

As a native Floridian, I love this state. As a resident of South Lake County, I love farming and teaching sustainability to this community. As a Candidate for State House, I love finding solutions to the issues of our time.

I'm With Banks!

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