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Food Politics, Stories, SlowMoneyFarm

August 26, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you ever think food politics don’t come into play, come with me for a month. The food landscape is littered with food politic explosive devices just waiting to attack credibility, what we do, how we do it.

You might not think that standing for food choices, sustainability, empowering the consumer to choose what they want would mean negativity but folks, if there’s a way to disagree there’s a dozen people waiting to lead the charge.

With a view of always improving how we use social media, I again was eager to attend the AgChat Foundation Conference. It’s a chance to meet up with friends, meet new ones and talk with strangers about what we do and how we do it.

As I watched, listened and, sometimes, bit my tongue and listened some more, several things came to light. In many cases we’re on the right track – sharing what we do, how we do it, getting information up out there not just for our customers but for those who will probably never be our customer, but will be someone’s.

I listened to praise and criticism. I listened to panels with no connection to agriculture except the food they purchase for their families, and I listened to fellow agnerds. I was surprised at one respected farmer who indicated I probably worked harder than he did – although I, personally, don’t think so it’s admittedly nice to see some do see the start to end marketing etc isn’t easy sometimes. I was surprised by perceived division, and the overwhelming umbrella of people farming all sizes and types of farms that have a sincere respect and support for those outside of our own niche.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know I could likely make a whole lot more money criticizing larger farms, those farmers (some friends) who use GMO seeds and other technology or those raising with a different management system than I. I could secure my position by condemning those who don’t do like I do.

But do you really want that? Honestly? If I criticize Zach Hunnicutt for growing more popcorn, does it make my smaller scale popcorn better? No! If I criticize the way Lara Durben for supporting larger turkey farms, does it make the one I’m growing for you better? No! If I grow heritage peppers, but support someone disagreeing with GMO and destroying crops, do I then support someone disagreeing with heritage crops to destroy mine? The truth is everyone does what they believe is best for their farm, their situation, their land and their family.

So why is it thought by condemning their farms and activities it makes mine better? Wouldn’t it be better to spend my time promoting what we do? Making what we do better? I believe by insulting others it demeans the things we produce – which can stand on their own.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh but is it sustainable? Well – if we’re honest, at this point Zach’s large farm is more sustainable than ours. After all, part of sustainability is – not just playing with words – the ability to sustain from year to year. We do, but financially aren’t *there* yet. So looking at 4-5 generation farms – easily over a century – surely that’s sustainable! And it’s not just a couple of them folks!

Celebrating agriculture and food diversity shouldn’t be division. If we provide food choices, every person out there has food choices and they’re not all the same ones! At full and immediate capacity we can serve a couple hundred customers – those who appreciate what we do, how we do it and are willing to put their hard earned money down to trust us to provide food for them.

What do the rest of the 308 million people eat? What do our customers eat until their packages and shares are ready? When people talk “ethical” some don’t care what we do – only that we don’t condemn others so that means, to them, we’re unethical. Never mind how we treat people or what we do. If we don’t insult and belittle others it’s a strike. It seems to me that acting that way is unethical.

We serve customers that want to insure their food supply with food choices, without being hateful to others for not choosing the same. Choices don’t mean “you must do the same as me!”

A network of farms serving a network of people, food choices and doing so without hate of others for their choices, which may differ.

The story continues. Join in, follow along, help make it happen. Just don’t expect poor behavior disparaging others. It’ not our style.

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