Saturday, September 10, 2011

"modern" agriculture

We had a lovely evening at a “farm fresh feast” to kick off the state fair here in our hometown. Our county recently added a community garden, which was the impetus for an outdoor “high-end restaurant” dining experience using local products. We provided the grass finished beef; other dishes were free-range chicken, fingerling potatoes, tomato-basil soup in a bread bowl, corn on the cob, salad greens and berry cheese cake.  Idaho wine and sarsaparilla made with local honey rounded out the meal.

It was a real treat to sit together there on the lawn in the middle of the race track, the same venue of our kids’ careers in horse 4-H, at a white linen covered table, sipping wine and honoring our local food producers of which we were one!  Mark even took his turn at the mic, describing our 5-generation ranch and the passion we share for putting grass and cows together.

Now, I know that locally produced food does nothing to address world hunger. Especially if you add attributes like grass-finished and/or organic, which this meal did. But how do you place a value on shaking hands with the farmer that grew your meal? What does it mean to come together, farmers and eaters, and finish the circle of creation and consumption of our most vital need? And what I’m more comfortable with every day, is the “choice” factor. We agriculturalists can provide food for consumers no matter their preference, be it industrially produced soybeans, or a dozen eggs straight from the farm.

One day this summer while Seth and I were driving by a neighboring grain field, we stopped so he could take me into the field and show me the large heads of grain and the stems packed tightly together. “Look what modern agriculture has done, Mom.” It was amazing; much more productive than the wheat fields I moved pipe through as a kid. And no, this wheat won’t be consumed in our county, maybe not in our nation.

When Seth talks about feeding the world, I always think, if you feed people, don’t they just have more kids, thereby exacerbating the hunger problem? It sounds harsh, but how do we fix it long run? His answer surprised me. He said that it’s only through nutrition that women become educated and empowered. And only through empowered women does family planning stand a chance of success. He taught me that it’s only when roads and food finally reach a people that despotism moves out. What a grand objective – improve the lives of all people, end tyranny, end hunger, and then population stabilizes.

Seth says it’s an exciting time to be in agriculture. Indeed. 

milkweeds along the yard
it's all about propagation

1 comment:

  1. The evolution is nice, starting with a small fancy country dinner to a question about world hunger. End despotism, wow.