I came across a graphic yesterday from the Texas Farm Bureau.
|Graphic Courtesy of the Texas Farm Bureau Organization|
What does that quotation mean to you?
After I shared this graphic on Facebook yesterday, a fellow blogger commented,
"This says it all and nothing else needs be said. If only everyone could leave it at that. Freedom to farm the way you want and freedom to purchase what you want, it's really so simple or it should be anyway." - Kelly Gray
Kelly is right. BUT, she also said "If only"........ "If only we can leave it at that."
"If only" is the key.
What's it going to take to stop the "If only"?
American Agriculture. It's a beautiful thing. Something we as consumers take for granted. Most of your days begin and end with agriculture whether you realize it or not. From the food you put in your mouth, the clothes on your back to the vehicle that gets you to work. You're depending on agriculture.
The best thing about our food supply and American Agriculture is the choices. You can choose to grow your own food. You can choose to buy it semi fresh from the grocery store. You can choose to buy it frozen from the Schwan's Man. You can choose to buy it fresh from the farmer's market.
Just like you can choose to wear or not wear pants today.
It's all up to you.
Our country is so geographically and demographically diverse that we've been able to cater to our diverse food supply as needed. For example, people from Indiana can choose to eat Strawberries all year round if they want. And they shouldn't complain where those strawberries came from or how they were grown. They should be lucky to enjoy them the 11 months out of the year they aren't in season here.
Yes, you can buy whatever you want. Whatever you want, there's a farmer for it. That doesn't necessarily mean that your choice and what you're comfortable with is the standard for everybody Else's choice.
A company can label whatever they want on a product. If you've noticed, a lot of these labels come and go as trends. A few years back, we had the high fructose corn syrup scare. That was followed by the gluten scare. Now people are scared of antibiotics and food containing genetically modified characteristics.
You have every right as a consumer and a parent to be concerned with what goes into your mouth. Into your children's mouths. Into your pet's mouths.
But, before you jump to assumptions and conclusions on what is and isn't safe to eat. Please do your research. By research, I don't mean watch an episode of Dr. Oz, a video produced by Chipotle or believe every single graphic about Monsanto flying around your Facebook news feed. Visit your local farmers and food sources. Find credible sources and studies about issues that concern you. Don't turn to the sources that are paid to scare you.
You will be amazed with the amount of false information, lies and myths out there.
My main concern as of late is the organic movement. Please understand, I support the option of having organic food available to those who want it. I especially support individuals wanting to grown their own organic gardens. There's no better way to control what goes into your mouth than to grow it yourself. Not to mention, taking care of a garden or your own food supply can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have. However, we cannot feed every single person in this country organically certified. Do you know the process it takes for a farm to become organically certified? Do you know how expensive our food would be?
I will assure you though, we are doing everything we can to preserve the nutrients in our soil, use less energy and apply less chemicals on our crops. It all has to happen by trial and error. It all has to happen in baby steps. Your small farmers especially struggle with this. We can't afford newer, greener tractors. (By greener, I don't mean John Deere... Sorry, farmer humor.) We did make the step a few years back and purchased a used GPS system for our farm. That way we are able to map out where we've been and use less fuel. We are able to map our yields and find out which areas in the field need less supplements.
People want conventional farmers to do things "the old fashioned" way. Ironically, it's the farmers who don't stay up to date that you should be worried about. But, that's a different blog post for a different day. Right now, I'm more concerned about the choices we as consumers make at the grocery store as we read labels.
I am asking you to please read your feed labels with a grain of salt.
Just because a product says "Gluten Free" DOES NOT mean gluten is bad for YOU. Yes, it might be for someone with Celiac's Disease. There are groups of people absolutely terrified of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. They are demanding all foods to be labeled without doing any research at all whatsoever on the benefits and the needs for genetically modified crops. There are foods that were never genetically modified to begin with being labeled "GMO FREE." Of course they are GMO FREE. These labels are being slapped on to packages to scare you out of the other choices available. Of course you're going to buy the product free of anything because that's the healthier choice, right?
Or is it wrong?
I am not here to tell you what we should be scared of and what is safe for us. I have my choices that I make based on the research and knowledge I've obtained. I ask that you do the same thing. I've also asked in the past that you be very cautious about what you share with others. Make sure you're not sharing a lie formed by some marketing team as a tactic to trick consumers into buying their product.
I am not a scientist. I am not an agronomist. I am a small farmer from Northern Indiana. I trust our food supply as a whole. I hope you do too someday.
We need variety. We need it to survive.