Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Always On My Mind

I'm a mom of four and a farm wife. Of all the thoughts that swirl throughout my head each day, one subject always outweighs the others: food.

Not only do I provide it for my family several times a day, but I rather enjoy it myself.

We are in the unique predicament of selling it so that we can afford to buy it.

Our distance from town requires that I constantly make note of what I use so that the list is complete when it is time to replenish the pantry.

Food is always on my mind.

After snacking on some peas in the garden this morning, I returned to the house and did a little reading. Apparently I'm not the only one who is thinking about food these days. The new fad is to create a garden in the backyard and grow produce in urban areas. I'm not one to follow trends, but I am encouraged by this development. I think that the more in touch people are with the production of food, the more positive the public perception of agriculture will be.

However, today's New York Times reported a phenomenon that disturbs me. Wealthy people are paying people to raise and harvest the produce - and in some cases to cook it into meals - so that they can have the benefits of the garden without getting their fingernails dirty.

I have no qualms about these people's rights to produce their own food. However, I see this development as further evidence of the growing rift between economic classes. In fact, I think that food (and access to it) is actually widening that gap.

This trend, just like the trend of eating organic or "all natural" (whatever that means) foods, is only available to those who can afford it. Many people are unable to shop at the farmer's market. We cannot all buy organic foods. We certainly can't all grow produce in our backyards; millions of people don't even have a backyard.

Those people who are economically or geographically excluded from obtaining food from those sources rely on production agriculture to provide the food. But because of movements like the one mentioned in the Times today, public perception is that production agriculture is no longer necessary. People who can afford to pay gardeners and chefs can also afford to support anti-agriculture environmental activists who work every day to shut down ag operations. Shutting down production agriculture in this country will mean further dependence on foreign imports.

Dependence on foreign food is a scary concept.

So, here's my plea. Buy organic. Buy all-natural (whatever that means). Buy locally. Grow your own. Raise a goat. Hire a gardener. But please think twice before supporting causes that aim to destroy production agriculture, even if they have shiny slogans and you want to impress the neighbors by how green you are. Those of us in production agriculture would like you to know that we take care of the land. We depend upon its health. We are proud to feed the nation - or at least those who can't afford their own personal gardener.

10 comments:

Prairie Chick said...

It's the circle of life. When it comes to food, we hunt and fish, raise some of our own meat, garden and preserve, but we also support local agriculture by buying their "specialties" because, hey... we can't do everything, and we love these people and care about their welfare. If agriculture goes under, our (as in our community) whole culture goes up in flames.

Athy said...

You are so right on! I can't tell you how nice it is reading your blog when we have so many of the same views on things. For me, living in Portland, OR these problems are even more in my face simply because people here seem to be big on protesting, banning, or petitioning against things that they don't even fully understand. Perfect example: the young kids who have grown up in the city their entire lives, have never lived on a farm or ranch, have little to no knowledge of the necessity of big agriculture (not just organic farming) but because they've been told some sort of propaganda bs about it, they're happy to be against it and publicly protest it. Really rediculous. Same with political stuff around here, everyone seems content to just believe whatever they're told that fits with their beliefs without actually researching the real facts. Sigh. :)

threecollie said...

Well said, thank you!

Dawn said...

Can I get an amen???

Very well written!

Anonymous said...

(claps) Well said!

Sandy

Frazzled Farm Wife said...

AMEN!

ZenPanda said...

Bravo!

Not Hannah said...

Thought provoking. Have you read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? Because you're a working farmer, it probably wouldn't be a revelation to you, but I think it's a great book that really highlights the idea that we don't have a "food culture" as Americans and how (relatively) easy it is to take care of one's family locally.

Not Hannah said...

(Ack, sorry. Posted somehow before I finished.)

That said, you're spot on in pointing out that folks just need to eat, and production farmers are the ones who truly grow the food that forms the backbone of our diets. My parents get paid NOT to plant their acreage while people in this country go hungry. That is not okay.

~ Straight Shooter ~ said...

amen, amen and AMEN sister!
Thank you for saying all this!

 
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