A Follow Up, Agribusiness

January 6, 2010

So I’ve been fuming a lot since my raw milk rant in the last post and am reminded of a couple of more positive things on the subject I wanted to share.  Last summer I heard Anna Lappe speak at the Kickapoo County Fair at the Organic Valley Headquarters in La Farge, WI.  The setting couldn’t have been more picturesque – a little gathering of tents on a small flat lawn surrounded by stunning wooded hills and valleys.  Ms. Lappe was talking about Hopes Edge, the new book she has co-authored with her mother Francis Moore Lappe. In the course of promoting it she’s been traveling around to a bunch of conferences like the “American Grocery Chain Summit” and the “Factory Farming Conference.”  What she saw there was both alarming and hopeful.  The presentations at these conferences all seemed to be making claims about how biotech and big business farming are actually good for nature and biodiversity.  This is actually hopeful news.  The fact that big business is trying to call itself “green” means that they are aware that more and more people care.  The meta-myth that they are promoting is that the industrochemical path to agriculture is inevitable.  Proponents of organic farming know that we are not a fringe movement.

So now we need to go out and shout it from the rooftops that the local food movement is growing.

If we’ve got the attention (and the ire) of agribusiness then that has to be a good thing.  Now we need to make sure the general public is just as aware.  As much as we are food consumers we are also Food Citizens.  We need to accept that responsibility, go beyond the plate and advocate for ourselves.

Alice Waters, the mother of the local food movement, says we need everybody to deliver the message about organic local food.  We need to get involved.  With a garden you don’t need to say a single word and there is so much value in what she calls “feeding people the message.”  It says so much more than a lecture.  So I guess the thing to do is to keep supporting local farmers, talking about the issues and voting with our dollars to keep the kind of agriculture we want.  I’m not going to give up hope.

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