Saturday, January 26, 2013

Too Much Gov't?

One of the fringe benefits of feeling like ka-ka and needing to spend some quality time on the sofa, is catching up on films & documentaries that I've been meaning to watch for some time.  I'm now up-to-date with Downtown Abbey, and I've seen all of the Beekman Boys, Series 1.

Perhaps one of the more disturbing, but very well done, films I saw was this one:

A series of stories told from the point of view of small farmers struggling to provide quality food in an agribusiness world, it's a shocking account of the sheer, unmitigated bullying they experience at the hands of the USDA, state health & farm regulatory agencies, and big agribusiness.  It is fairly horrifying.

I am not a fan of factory farming for many reasons, but I understand why people who want to be farmers generally feel the need need to follow the business practices handed down to them by the big corporations who care little for the actual quality or healthiness of the food product being produced.  If they want to farm "successfully", unfortunately it generally means bowing down to the business side of control and needing to follow the giant factory-farm model.  People who chose to do small, safe and organic farming often find themselves either being bullied out of business, facing huge legal action that drives them out of business, or being unable to continue financially because they can't qualify for government loans and programs (which are geared for huge agribusiness farming, solely), and the lack of educated consumers who value the actual, realistic costs of producing food that is usually reflected in the price of organic--it's really not much more than what food should cost in the general market, it's just "missing" the savings provided by toxic mass production.  This film was a litany of sad tales, of wonderful people with healthy farms, who would up being smashed into oblivion by the legal machine powered by the big business boys with all the bucks.  If you've ever wondered what kind of pressure little farmers are under, and why they feel so passionately about what they produce, the film.  It's available streaming on Netflix, or you can rent it through your local library system.

All that being said, I feel extremely lucky to count small farmers as personal friends, whom I can support by purchasing or bartering for wonderful things, grown on their farms.  Is some of what I buy "illegal" according to some statute or other, written with agribusiness conglomerates in mind?  No doubt it is.  Do I care?  Not particularly. I think bartering may even be considered illegal...isn't that sad?  I may not be able to change legislation geared to the protection of agribusiness, not real people, single-handedly, but by spending my dollars with local farms and supporting local farmers, instead of at a large box store purchasing commercially-grown products, I hope I send a message.  Dollars not spent at the store means dollars in the local economy.  So, in theory, where I spend my few dollars makes a statement, right?

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