Monday, February 9, 2015

Delusions in Agriculture

     My concern for agriculture is that people are making assumptions before knowing the truth.  The concept of organics is best, GMOs are bad, our food is poison, has to stop.  

   When I think of food, I think of what is in my cupboards and what can I eat next.  Did I eat breakfast yet?  Is the coffee still hot? What do I need from the grocery store?  Can it wait until market day?  Then I choose my wheat-based fibre cereal and whole milk, and usually white sugar (even though it may or may not give me cancer) to get me through till my next procrastination break. 

   So here is my issue.   I, as a farmer, a farmer's daughter, and a farmer's granddaughter, don't appreciate the random fickle comments condemning farmers that supply the grocery stores with their products.  Knowing the work and daily dedication that goes into providing the consumer with a safe, healthy product that I can be proud of, I take it to heart when people criticize "industrial" agriculture or "corporate" agriculture or "factory" farming.  
A summer felfie (farmer selfie) on
the small factory dairy farm of 50 cows
and 50+ young stock that is a
corporation run by a young couple
and their 2 pre-school children

   Yes, the "small" farm of 50 cows where I work now is a corporation because taxes are cheaper that way.  Yes, I work on a family farm because its owners are a young couple in their mid-30's with a 3 year old and a one and a half year old.  Yes, this is an industrial farm because we deal with thousands of litres of milk on a daily basis using stainless steel pipelines and vacuum pumps and cleaning chemicals.  Yes, this is a factory because it is the same thing day in and day out, twice a day.  Feed the animals, milk the animals, clean the barn, it's a small factory, but it's still a factory, That doesn't mean that I am a mindless, ruthless person mistreating the animals.  It also doesn't mean that my neighbour working at the tire plant (factory) is mindless and ignorant to his coworkers because he works in a factory.  

   Until you are able to grow your own vegetables in your backyard and learn to preserve them in your freezer for the winter, until you go to a u-pick and actually pick your strawberries to make your own jam, until you are willing to wake up before work and go out in a snowstorm to your shed to make sure your chickens are safe and warm and that the warming light is still on and the water is not frozen, please don't judge the farmers that will do that for you.  

   No matter what size farm, people are working very hard to get a product to a store or market for you to eat well.  If you choose to eat organic, that's great.  I don't prefer organic to conventional products because I know that through regulations and farmer-pride, my food is not poison.   

   Consumers have to shake themselves of the delusions of the romantic, idyllic farm life and understand that my Grandpa's Old MacDonald-type farm could only feed one family.  But the neighbours don't own a farm anymore so now my Grandpa's farm, has to feed the neighbours too.  The farming population is getting smaller and technology is getting smarter so that we, as farmers, can feed you and the community you live in.  

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