Small Farms, Big Ag, Food Choices
This is a recurring theme in the blog, but there is always new information, new perspectives, new sparks of conversations. Sometimes it’s things that are there that we never saw before. For example, big ag in the Bible. Food choices today. Small farms trying to…oh wait many still don’t see that!
Wait – back up, we know there are food choices. People say they aren’t but they aren’t looking very hard – there’s NonGMO, Organic, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, direct from the farm, in bulk, at restaurants…hundreds of thousands of choices just waiting to be made. No one directs that but you. Even Overstock is in the fresh food market, and slowly people are investing their money in these alternatives. If you want it, you must invest in it, and more than just buying.
There’s much that those just buying food don’t see – for example, I’m working on a portable greenhouse that fits on a raised bed, solar powered. The materials – about $60 for the wood and panels or plastic…but the solar part is another $200-300. Then getting the fence up to keep it from walking off, which it will if not protected. So the beds themselves are about $500 each. That’s before a single seed is planted, and months before there’s something to sell. Innovation isn’t just for large companies folks, but it takes funds to make it happen.
OK so folks are getting this but think I’ve lost my mind about big ag in the Bible. “Everybody knows” CAFOs are something just in the last 50 years…before then all was small farms. Right? Indeed, there were more small farms and our heirloom and heritage varieties were developed for those small farms, but there were large operations in the Bible. In II Chronicles 31:6 “…they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep…” and in 30:24 “For Hezekiah king of Judah did give to the congregation a thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep; and the princes gave to the congregation a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep: and a great number of priests sanctified themselves.”
Job was quite a successful large farmer. Job 1:3 “His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.” The family had security, but Job was tested in the loss of many sheep and camels. It is Job that offers many references to agriculture. His family was tested severely, but in Job 42:12 “so the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels and a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand she asses.” He left it to four generations in 42:16. A large family farm, sustaining multiple generations.
Many today are not in agriculture so it’s easy to skim over that volume. Here in America many think 20 is “a lot” – so seeing 2,000 oxen or 6,000 camels in one spot defies the imagination. Add 1,000 jenny donkeys and, presumably, breeding males. Then 14,000 sheep. There’s a reason shepherds were the one to see the star and hear news of His birth – that is a big investment and responsibility!
Times have changed in many ways, but many things have not. Today there is less need for oxen, as tractors have been available to do farm tilling and harvesting, and they don’t eat when not in use but make a poor meal at the end of their useful life.
Whatever your choices are, make them. Understand there have always, from the Bible, been large and small farmers. Today looks different in many ways. Our perception is different on our experiences. But then, too, Jesus wasn’t American.