Farmers and the 80%
Let's just say what everyone in the back is thinking, "Farmers are low class. Farmers are dirty and not as smart as the rest of us." You hear about a farmer in conversation, and your mind immediately goes to the backwoods, overall wearing, redneck crazies living in the woods talking to the horses. I'm allowed to say that, I was not born a farmer and I saw the looks my family members and friends gave each other when I told them my(then) boyfriend was a farmer. Almost as if being a farmer automatically meant he was destined to a life of poverty because he wasn't smart enough to learn a "profession." Why is that? Why is it that in our worlds fast paced, one tract mind to greatness we have lowered the very thing that keeps us all alive? It certainly hasn't come from the Farmers themselves. When you talk to a Farmer, big or small, they speak about their jobs with pride. They have built everything from the ground up themselves, they love their lives and wake up every morning with a passion and dedication to the earth and their land.
Why is it that we bash the Farmers for every choice they make, for everything they do that we don't agree with 100%? Following the lifestyle that I do, I come in contact with a lot of "hippies;" plenty of people would even say that I, myself, am a "hippie." Let's talk about them-starting off with they aren't really hippies! By that I don't mean the 70's type, though I have been known to rock a good pair of bell bottomed pants. Thats just the term a lot of old Farmers use, or as my Momma would call them, "yuppies" or as my sister says, "crunchy people". You know who you are, with your smoothie bowls and yoga classes, cleaning your homes with essential oils in an effort to make your lives as natural as possible. You repost every Facebook article bashing pollution and Monsanto- the devils corporation. You try to support as many local artisan makers that you can without actually having to change your budget, and you leave the best reviews on the local coffee shop. In my experience most people(including myself)that practice these things have everyones best interests at heart! We care deeply about the earth, we love knowing that buying sustainable products helps everyone and is worth the dollar or two more that it costs and we just want our families to be as healthy as possible! I get it, But heres the thing...most of us are just hippies on paper. Most of us share those Facebook articles and then turn around and eat the bulk of our meals from Publix and Chick-fil-A(guilty). We really like cleaning our homes with quality non toxic cleaners but we see no problem in buying all of our clothes from big business stores *cough* Target *cough* and while we are there grab all of our beauty products too(so guilty). Don't even get me started on all the disposable products we go through, I can't live without my paper towels people and Im just praying that the fact that I use reusable straws is going to be enough to offset all the q-tips my husband goes through. We are quick to stop into our local stores, but we only actually buy less than 5% of our daily food and household items there. Now I'm not saying we need to get rid of all these things and immediately revert to a waste free and sustainable life overnight. Moderation is the key to all good things! Simply put though, very few Americans know what actual moderation is, we simply use it as an excuse. As if the one organic salad I ate is going to be enough to offset eating cereal for dinner 4 nights in a row. We are so easily influenced by what is cheaper on our wallets or what brands and items we can get through business partners or job perks.
Ever wonder why Grass fed beef is so much more expensive than regular beef in mainstream stores?
it takes a year to two longer to get them to market size compared to a grain fed cow. A cheaper cow raised in less time means more people will have access to meat while keeping prices as low as possible.
But wait...what does it really matter to a Farmer what I post or buy? What I do doesn't really affect anyone but myself and my health? Right? Lets take a minute to break this down. There are approximately 7.6 billion people in the world. Only 570 Million of those are currently in the Agricultural field, and Im talking the whole field not even necessarily growing food. Only 2% of the population of the US are Farmers, and we are the 2nd largest exporter of food world wide. 90% of farms in the world are run by families and those primarily rely on family labor. Over 60% of the world is completely dependent on Farmers to produce 100% of their food. 20% are dependent on Farmers to produce over 50% of their food. This means that 2% of the population is responsible for producing all,or the majority of, food and Agricultural products for over 80% of the world. Just let that sink in....roughly it translates to 1 person providing for over 200 people. For every Farmer there is the weight of over 200 people riding on their shoulders. Excuse me for saying this but most of us struggle not to fall apart with just 4-6 family members depending on us. Can you even imagine the severity of having 200 people depend on you for food? Now let's get serious for minute...can you imagine busting your butt off in a field of corn, praying for rain, and crying at all the bugs eating it alive, and having 200 people surround you yelling at how you're doing everything wrong, and yet expect you to share that corn with them when its ready?
GMO vs NON GMO
While GMO crops are not as healthy they are there asa crutch to the world food crisis. Barrier Farms GMO free crops are more deeply affected by nature and the elements so while they are more healthy they aren't as reliable. For example 2018's corn harvest is expected to bring us 100 bushels to the acre, while one of our neighboring farms is expected to bring in 200 bushels per acre. Healing the earth takes time and simply can't be done overnight. GMO free crops are more expensive to grow and are often so much more dependent on nature. since we went through a drought this year it will take much more of a beating than if we had planted a GMO variety. In ideal growing conditions we can harvest just as much as any other farmer or more, but weather conditions aren't often ideal.
People keep multiplying like rabbits it seems and yet the number of Farmers stays the same. 20 years ago, it was just 1 farmer to 150 people; who knows what it will be in 20 more years. The earth is tired and stressed, yet we demand more out of her than we ever have before. So many people get angry when Science and the Government step in to the Agricultural world, they hate that they've altered types of food to grow in places it wouldn't normally grow and in conditions where it would naturally die. Now Here is where I'm going to make some of you crunchy people real mad, thank the Good Lord they have. Thank the Lord we have certain GMO crops! Thank the Lord we have new hybrids that grow bigger and faster than before! Now before you choke on your granola, remember I'm on your side... so let me explain. Due to neglect on EVERY HUMANS PART, we slowly stopped caring. We didn't listen to the environmentalist, food experts, and yes, farmers. We've taken all Mother Earth has to offer and in return we have trashed our planet. To populate the earth and destroy our resources like we have, and then place the responsibility of feeding the world on such a small number of people, how long did we really think we would last? Science had no choice because we gave it no choice! Millions would go hungry everyday to pay for our mistakes. Things do not get changed overnight. We can't repair our mistakes that quickly. It is easy to name a large portion of it on Big Business Farmers, but why do you blame them? When land is stripped from farms to make room for more houses and landfills? When the ground and air is so polluted its been turned to a waste land in some areas? When more and more people are placed on their backs demanding food would you rather they told us to starve? My husband explains it the very best way, "Gmo crops we created to be our crutch, not our solution. They will help us get through the mess humans created, and they are giving us time to try and mend our ways." To revert the average acre of American soil to what it was 100 years ago would take years.
But to be able to truly change your food, along with the world, you can't just look to the 2%, you MUST look at the 80% in the mirror. Our farm is proof of change. 15 years ago all we grew were GMO grain crops out of necessity and based on our customers demands, and you know what, we had less stress and better yields. But eventually our customers, our 80% begged for better, and with the backing of our community promising they would pay the higher cost for higher quality, we slowly transformed and reverted back. It didn't happen overnight, but it happened. A Farmer is after all, a business owner, and no matter what you may personally believe in or want, if you can make it sell, it doesn't make for very good business.
Farmers Market vs. Grocery Store
Pictured is just one of many farmers market booths we have visited that boasted Non GMO vegetables and products. All of which were picked that morning and were more colorful then anything in a mainstream grocery store. Getting to meet the people who raise your food is one way to help keep transparency in our food industry. You may find yourself spending a few more dollars a week on your grocery bill but you will develop friendships and healthier lives along the way.
No Farmer is against reverting back to the natural ways of living and raising food. Heck, most of us prefer it that way! But with the weight of the literal world resting on their shoulders, they won't change without you telling them to. Without you telling them you are willing to pay the extra cost, to be more patient, and to prove it with your business. They will do whatever you tell them to do through your actions. The saying does go "Actions speak louder than words" and its not wrong. They can see your Facebook posts crying for reform but if your grocery cart still says conventional and cheap then they will produce conventional and cheap. Show us your reform by shopping locally, by meeting your local farmers and makers and letting them know you see the hard work they are doing. Show us by growing some veggies of your own or keeping a few hens in the back yard. Show us your world and health really IS worth an extra $20 every week and we will show you what we are capable of doing with that extra $20 for our 80%.
We see you! We hear you! We provide for you! So please, don't just watch us in the field, join us!