Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Redefining "Farmer"

With the "Green Revolution" upon us, many are discovering the hidden secrets of the food system and we are becoming more concerned about not only where our food comes from but also how it is grown and by whom.  I am constantly reading about the so called farmers that produce the majority of the so called food we consume.  First of all, these people are hardly farmers, at least in the classic sense of the title, and this is only in part due to the fact that they do not grow food, at least not in the classical sense of the term.  These "farmers" are producers of food additives more so than actual food.  If we tried to live off high fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, vegetable oil, textured vegetable protein and soy lecithin we would be in a far worse state than we already are.  At least in our current predicament we manage to squeeze in some mildly contaminated animal protein and pesticide glazed vegetables to augment our diet, but I digress.
When it comes to our "food" we are relying on huge corporations that turn a blind eye to the real nitty-gritty everyday atrocities that happen on their so called farms, not just poor environmental practices in the form of toxic pesticide and fertilizer use but serious human rights violations against their workers as well.  We don't seem to care so long as we can get a tomato in December (which we will complain about because it is flavorless and mealy) and we don't have to pay more than a few cents for it.  We don't realize that every time we tighten our wallets, so do the stockholders and CEO's of these "farms".  We may not be paying more but the workers certainly are.  Do we not care because many of these workers are here illegally?  Just keep in mind, they are doing work that we as Americans were too proud to do ourselves. 
I don't want to go on endlessly about things we all should at least consider once in a while at the grocery (I do eventually have to get up for work after all) but I would like to make one point here at least.  I propose that we either take back the title of "Farmer" from these agribusinesses or relinquish the term and redefine it as something less than respectable.  I propose that we honor our local food growers, the people working hard to produce actual food that sustains us as human beings as well as the land on which they are growing.

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