Fix the problem, not the blame
How can we feed our world healthily, responsibly, ethically and economically? That question could start many a heated debate. It’s going to take some creative problem solving and a willingness to take a hard and realistic look at alternatives and the real (including environmental and social) costs of many production systems to create tomorrow’s agriculture. Russ Parsons of the LA Times voiced many of my thoughts. I’m going to quote liberally.
On the one side, the hard-line aggies seem convinced that a bunch of know-nothing urbanites want to send them back to Stone Age farming techniques. On the other side, there’s a tendency by agricultural reformers to lump together all farms (or at least those that aren’t purely organic, hemp-clad mom-and-pop operations) as thoughtless ravagers of the environment
I operate on both sides of this debate because we raise and sell registered breeding stock and sell pasture-raised beef and veal at local farmer’s markets. I hear more than my share of biases and accusations. Here’s some things I think we all need to remember:
Agriculture is a business. Farming without a financial motive is gardening. …Not only do farmers have expenses to meet just like any other business, but they also need to be rewarded when they do good work.
…we also have to keep in mind that our first obligation is to make sure that healthful, fresh food remains plentiful and inexpensive enough that anyone can afford it.
The world is changing, and those who can adapt are the ones who will be successful.
What’s political is also personal. If you believe in something, you should be willing to make sacrifices to support it, even if it’s expensive or inconvenient. Wailing about farmers who use pesticides and then balking at paying extra for organic produce is hypocritical because the yields in organic farming are almost always lower.
Don’t assume that those who disagree with you are evil, stupid or greedy.
It is good to hear a voice for tolerance and moderation. Consumers have legitimate desires and concerns, even when they don’t have all the facts. Individual producers, as a whole, are producing our food in the best way they know and really do care about their animals and the environment. Let’s fix the problem, not the blame.
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