Friday, March 18, 2011

Stay Small or Get Out

For many years the mantra of the agricultural elitist, the scientists, and elected officials has been:

"Get Big or Get Out"

The beginning of this philosophy coming out of the industrial ramp up of agriculture, durable goods, and petroleum has brought us to this...

Live stock, over fed, underexcercised, and unnaturally supplemented for the show ring and breeding marketing. The really sad thing about this is this hog and his offspring are uneatable - tough, no marbling. This is a wasted pig.

Death - production is king. The lives of the animals are of little import. These hogs will be processed quickly and in USDA "approved" processing plants. But they produce more than the local economy can handle so they are exported to larger markets sometimes thousands of miles away. They are handled by countless middle-men and sold to customers they never see and can't be held accountable to. This introduces the higher risk of food-borne illnesses.

This picture is perfect to illustrate the co-mingling between the petroleum industry and agriculture. People, if you do not buy locally, this is where your meat comes from. Cows standing in lots in completely unnatural surroundings, fed unnatural diets, and antibiotics.

Packaged goods at the grocers. The illusion of choice - illusory because it is mostly corn and soybeans. It has to travel thousands of miles so to keep it "fresh" they add preservatives. This is factory food tantamount to Soylent Green.

The "food" in the picture above starts here. Monocultures, land raped by large machines, petroleum, and human-less technology that steals the pride of work from the farmer. The result? Unhealthy earth, young people fleeing the farm because of the debt incurred by the large farms. One farmer interviewed by Michael Pollan for a piece in The Omnivore's Dillema succintly put it like this.

"I am no longer a farmer. I am a tractor driver for the industrial food and military complex". Another large impact of this kind of "farming" is this:

Farms destroying their greatest renewable resource, their soil.  Erosion problems in the monocultures of the mid-west lead to flooding, even in areas no where near rivers.

Here is a new mantra more worth the nobility, ancient-ness, and gloriousness of this Nature we've been given by the Father, which we call our Mother.

"Stay Small or Get Out"

Results in farmers who know their land intimately, care about renewing its soil because it is their life, only grow as big as they can personally handle, and produces food that is put on their own table as well as that of their customers. Research how many dairy farmers do not drink their own milk or how many factory farmers buy all of their groceries from the store. This is money that leaves the local economy and serves no one but the speculators, petroleum industries, and box stores (conventional and organic).

Farmers like joel Salatin, who live within their means, incur no debt to fund their farm's operations, receive no subsidies from your tax dollars (wouldn't take them if they were offered), and just have a passion for farming. In this kind of local, impassioned community, the young do not leave the farm to become a part of the industrial complex.

Food from small-holdings travel much fewer miles, are sold by the farmer that grew it, and the customer is the only health inspector needed in this relationship. The customer learns to trust the farmer; in many cases they become friends. The farmer demands high quality and fair pricing because they see their customer every week. Money exchanges hands but never leaves the community. I can imagine this farmer receiving money from her customer who works at a business where she will then spend that money. The local economy is not subject to wall street, the commodities markets, or the petroleum industry.

Stay small or get out of agriculture. Because larger farms and fewer farmers are not the answer. Really, by working within the economies of the large factory farms, the farmers have already ceded the description of farmer. They are working for the banks, the oil industry, the conglomerate food sellers, and people thousands of miles away.

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