Thursday, June 25, 2009

We Can Farm....

My wife and I are in the middle of the book "You Can Farm" by Joel Salatin. We read it mostly going and coming from work, although sometimes we are inclined to do some reading before bed. Hearing my wife's voice as she reads to me is very calming and relaxing, plus it allows me to not get so aggravated at "cut-throat, almost, but not quite a Nascar freeway driver". Anyway, so far it is very inspiring. He has a way of telling it like he sees it and that my friends is very refreshing.

So it got me thinking about Joel's recent visit to Washington D.C. and I decided to look up on his website and see if he had written anything about it. Here is what he had to say:

Photo Source:

"If you just looked inside the USDA, you would find tremendous support for local food," said Senator Mark Udall to me yesterday, June 17.

I responded: "I have looked, and it's not a pretty picture . . . " then somebody cut off my microphone and that was the end.
I think I have reached the nadir of my trust in government. Some background: a couple of months ago, I received an invitation from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to participate in the Green Jobs Leadership Summit hosted by the Senate Democratic Caucus in the Russell Senate Office Building.
His invitation read: "This half-day event will feature discussions focused on creating clean energy jobs and supporting the new green economy. Because of your company's leadership in the clean energy and green manufacturing industries, Senator Webb [Va. Senator Jim Webb] has nominated you to represent Virginia at the Green Jobs Leadership Summit."
A breakfast reception would begin at 8 a.m.I received a duplicate invitation directly from Sen. Webb. Smelling a rat (partisans backslapping and me a member of a voiceless mob) I contacted Sen. Webb's office for clarification and was assured that I might even have five minutes with Vice President Joe Biden, but surely I would have plenty of face time with senators.
Each senator was allowed one nominee,and I was Webb's representative. That was kind of cool, and with a total potential of 100 people from across the U.S., this sounded like indeed it might be something where I could get my message to some high levels.
So yesterday morning I left the house a little after 3:30 a.m. and traveled to Washington. I arrived and went immediately to the breakfast, which was chalk milk, ice water, coffee, orange juice, bagels, and hydrogenated pastries. Breakfast? Where is the raw milk, local apple juice, bacon, sausage, pastured eggs? I settled for ice water.The room was surrounded by slick corporate poster advertisements for alternative energy manufacturers, supported by a cadre of CEO's and their staffs. Hardly enough room to move around.
Soon we were told to find our seats and Sen. Debbie Stabe now convened the meeting. The front table was cordoned off and guarded by security until VP Joe Biden came. He spoke about the wonderful things the stimulus package was doing, then shook hands with about 8 senators in a reserved section, then was quickly whisked away. So much for face time.What followed were two panels, primarily senators, simply giddy over how they were rescuing the country. The senators would flow in for their 1 minute of clapping praise from the industry audience, then gave 3 minutes of Democratic salvation exuberance, then quickly left for more important matters.
Once each panel finished their preramble (Ha!) monologues, just a few minutes were left for the lucky few who could navigate to the microphone in a nearly unreachable corner to ask questions and make comments to the panel.
Since we were out of time by the time this was allowed, three or more people would give their comments and then someone from the panel would respond--always about how we needed to do more. I finally realized that this was all about the Democrats (I'm sure Republicans do it all the time too) convening industry people to become their political cloud to shove through the Democratic agenda.
No face time. No interaction. I was just supposed to listen, catch the euphoria bug, and leave elated and thankful that the Democrats were finally in charge. Of course, I don't think the Republicans would be any better, but the postulating and self aggrandizement was both disgusting and palpable. Anyway, I finally decided to leave at the end of the second panel. As I walked out, I realized I had navigated to the end of the comment line and since only 6 people were in front of me, I might actually get to say something. So I waited.`And they got to me.
Here is the best I remember what I said:
I'm amazed that after half a day of talk about green jobs and energy, I have not heard the word food, the word farm, or the word agriculture. I represent the local food movement and the pastured livestock movement, and we are tried of being marginalized, criminalized, and demonized by the USDA and this government. I'm a bioterrorist for letting my chickens run in the pasture. What good is it to have the freedom to own a gun, assemble, or worship if I can't choose the fuel to feed my internal 3 trillion member community of bacteria to give me the energy to go shoot, pray, or preach? I propose that we have a Constitutional Amendment that allows every American citizen the right to choose their food. Government bureaucrats should not come between my mouth and my 3 trillion member internal community."
Other speakers had waxed on about health care and all sorts of things. I couldn't have talked more than one minute,when Sen. Udall interrupted with: "If you just looked inside the USDA, you would find tremendous support for local food."
I was the only speaker interrupted, the only one who mentioned food, farming, or agriculture, and the only one who didn't ask for more government money. And when I responded that I had looked inside and it was not a pretty picture . . . they cut my microphone off. Enough of you, Salatin. We don't want your type around here.Thus endeth Mr. Salatin going to Washington. I think I'll write some more books.
By Joel Salatin

I found that pretty telling for the time we live in. I would say a "minority" of Americans are aware of the difference in foods that come from conventionalized farming and sustainable, beyond organic farming. Of those, most are not satisfied with "status quo" while the others may be more concerned about convenience. How we change this status quo is to educate the majority on what the minority already knows. If we can do this in a non-activist, non-crazy, over-the-top- offensive, brother loving brother kind of way, eventually politicians will have to listen if they want to get elected or re-elected to office. Well, enough of the heavy political cow patty for today. I hope you enjoyed Joel's summary as much as I did.

Hebrews 6:6-8 (NIV)
7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

1 comment:

  1. What took you so long? I've already had two cups of coffee.