I was shocked and saddened by the recent news of Anthony Bourdain’s death. He was more than a “foodie” – he was someone who taught the world about food and culture, and how food brings communities together. He taught us to enjoy the unfamiliar – both foods and places – and was a role model to many in the food industry. His legacy lives on through the many lives and food purveyors he touched worldwide.
When tragedies like these happen, it’s a good reminder to all of us to appreciate those who are making a difference in the food system – our farmers, our producers, our chefs, our shoppers, our educators, and most importantly – each other.
Here at the Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM), I care about our staff’s emotional health and wellbeing. Running certified farmers markets and educational programs is demanding and fast-paced, and I encourage all of our staff take time each day for self-care – whether it’s a short walk or a quiet time for meditation. Self-care is important to keep our team engaged and motivated.
Unfortunately, mental health issues—like depression—affect many people, and it’s troubling that rates of suicide are especially problematic among farmers. In fact, those working in farming, fishing, and forestry industries have the highest rates of suicide compared to other jobs – nearly at a rate four times greater than the national average. When I see first-hand the long hours our California farmers work, often in rural or remote communities with limited access to health services and limited or variable incomes, it’s a wakeup call that we, as a society, can do more to take care of our farmers and producers. Shopping at farmers markets and buying directly from local growers helps to support farmers’ livelihood; it’s one of the best places to start. Reach out and support your local farmers and food producers. Get to know them, show your gratitude, and support the agricultural community.