There are so many items on the supermarket shelves that stay there for several days at least, like meat, fish and vegetables that the average person consumes daily.

These foods get tested, I assume, before they leave the factory where they're processed (for longevity among other intelligent/greedy reasons) and packed for shipping.

But as they get presented to us, we don't know what they contain -- carcinogens, hormones, growth retardants, shine wax, antibiotics, bacteria or other contaminants. Sometimes, after an outbreak here and there, that can be identified. Then the system takes remedial action.

It is sometimes ignored.

For the most part, we don't even know where they come from, how the animal was raised, fed and slaughtered, or who grew the tomatoes, what insecticide was used, and how they were packaged in order to keep them shiny.

The consumer has lost touch with nature. Some aspects of factory farming are too painful to acknowledge. The market has conditioned us, mostly. The big corporations are on top of what goes into our mouth.

Farm factories took over the small farmers. We have big concentrations of waste materials in smaller surfaces creating amazing amounts of contamination.

However, there is an increasing amount of people who want to know where what they put on their table comes from. In the last few decades, we have grown an interest in knowing what goes on behind the labels. We take pride in the local farmer we have a relationship with who runs a small homestead business. We participate in CSA shares for vegetable and meat consumption.

We get to understand the current farm issues due to the weather. In this fashion, this is giving support to the local farmers, to the space they use for farming; it means less contaminants. It means we are learning how to live in tune with nature.

My husband and I moved to Groton some 20 years ago because of all the open space this town had compared to most other surrounding towns. I knew that the first horse that I owned would appreciate that we meet that criteria. I took over the horse business that the prior owners were operating and I obtained the necessary licenses from the state and the town.

Because of the difficult economic times that hit my riding school in the mid-2000s, I started farming my land. I quickly realized the wealth that Mother Nature had for us. I hired a hunter to come during hunting season on my property to provide me with game and I raised my own animals for consumption, despite the criticisms from some people who bought meat from the store, not knowing the sad and abominable truth behind it.

In the process of taking all these steps to provide for myself and for a small amount of CSA customers, I realized the importance of farming relative to the agricultural economic development in Groton.

We cannot own land and not use it, unless we develop it, which is not an option for me. I was quickly surrounded by people who cared genuinely about what they ate. I am talking about people liking a food mostly because it is good for their body and because it is properly and respectfully obtained from Mother Nature.

I then met those malicious raw-milk-producing farmers.

As a kid, we were raised on raw milk. We were a family of six and my mother stayed home to take care of us. We lived in the city. We had another home in Normandy where we'd spend our weekends to "refill our lungs" with fresh air. We'd go directly to the farm to pick up our big pail filled with fresh, still-warm cow milk. We had no fridge, so my mother would prepare a variety of foods like yogurt, cottage and farmer's cheese, butter and other goodies. The milk left over would be for us to consume for breakfast. I saw her enjoying figuring out different recipes with that precious food. I kept very fond memories from these times, when the real food was still available to us. There was no fear of contamination and disease-causing agents yet with all "the poisons" added to maximize, somehow, the profit of the big corporations that are now on top of the ladder.

Back to Groton. I am sitting on over a dozen acres of land. My goats are roaming around, keeping some areas of my land clear, where the horses don't bother going. My vegetable gardens are feeding me and other families. I found some raw goat milk around last year, and I am able to make cheeses, breads, soups, butter, and so many other things.

This year, I will milk my own goats. Pasteurized milk has always tasted bad. Raw milk is definitely the way to go for high quality dairy products. I am also allergic to pasteurized cow milk. Numerous people will be getting raw milk as soon as it becomes available (my goats are not in milk yet), starting in the form of shares and ownership as the young goats grow older.

We need more farmers around able to feed the demand of raw milk so that we don't have to go far out to get it. It should be available right in the town where we live. But our system is in complete disarray when it comes to deciding what jeopardizes our health at the consumption level and what doesn't. Safety is an excuse. It is all about control!

If the system allows raw meat, raw fish, raw fruits, raw vegetables, raw nuts that have gone through meticulous, harmful processing and with the addition of harmful additives to make the marketing more profitable, then it should allow us farmers to serve directly those who want to decide for themselves what is better for their body and for the environment.

Our system has proved to fail; people are slowly getting sicker. The small farmers who are growing "in all honesty" are under attack with strict rules and regulations. The big corporations are making money and so are the lawmakers. But who really cares?!

Maybe it is time for the system to better interfere in the processing level of nutrients that are now sitting on the shelves so that they stop hurting us. Leave us alone as we are trying to bring the farm directly to the table!

Hélène Cahen

Groton