I have yet to approach the subject of agriculture in detail on this blog because I suppose it wasn't necessary until now. As a child I made many passes in the combine with my grandpa during corn and soybean harvest in central Indiana. This unique opportunity allowed me to understand at a young age the process of food production and the important role farmers have in the daily lives of all Americans. Later I claimed the title of "transplant" when my parents relocated our family to Oklahoma. Since then, I have been involved in cattle production. After five years, I left college with a B.S. in Agricultural Communications and a M.Ag. in International Agriculture.
Whew. That's a lot of characters just to let you know agriculture has been intertwined in my life for a really, really long time. Well, twenty-something years worth.
Yesterday I posted a link on Facebook to a new blogger friend's newest post regarding the Milk Wars most consumers face on a daily basis. (You can read the post here.) Although the title is in reference to organic or conventional milk production, Aimee presented both sides of the story in a journalistic approach.
What's my opinion?
I believe in the right to choose.
Every American - or citizen of the world - should have access to an abundant, safe and affordable food supply.
I believe in the progress of agriculture and the amazing ability to feed the masses: In 1940 1 farmer fed 19 people, that same farmer today feeds more than 155 people.
I honor the choice to shop at the local farmer’s market, I, too, visit the farmers market on occasion. By occasion, read as: I’m a Master’s graduate living on a communications salary in an urban area and my paycheck barely covers student loans and utility bills. (also - my mom likes to buy my really pretty flowers from the farmer's market.)
My dollars are spent frugally, like most Americas, so I appreciate the ability to visit the local grocery knowing there is an abundant supply of safe, affordable food. In fact, just last night I bought a week's worth of groceries for $35. To be fair, I chose the 1.68 Peanut Butter over the $8.19 USDA approved organic version and a bunch of spinach for $1.19 over the organic that was $5.99.
This does not mean I won't always buy generic or when I win millions in the lottery I won't buy organic. Either way, it shouldn't matter. The thing is - in America, we have choices. Farmer's work their tails off to provide the options we have in our grocery stores.
A comment from the dialogue on Aimee's post warmed my heart, "I personally feel that we are blessed to have such variety. The fact that we have the luxury to pick, and the resources to educate ourselves on those choices, is something that most people take for granted these days." - @KMRivard
However, it is also the right of consumers to appreciate the options that are available to them. Perspective is a concept that is easily lost in the lives of Americans. Many people around the world are seeking their next meal not analyzing the difference between packaging. With that said, I will always believe in the right, and obligation, of consumers to know the where your food comes from.
I realize this is a lot to take in a single post - and a single post can in no way encompass my thoughts on this issue. However, I'm going to try to mix in a little more rural into my urban blog.
This is a friend I made on a sustainable agriculture trip last summer to Nicaragua. Every time I visit the grocery store I think about helping them build a garden so they could have the opportunity to feed everyone in this boys' home.