The stronger a culture, the less it fears the radical fringe. The more paranoid and precarious a culture, the less tolerance it offers.
When faith in our freedom gives way to fear of our freedom, silencing the minority view becomes the operative protocol.
How much evil throughout history could have been avoided had people exercised their moral acuity with convictional courage and said to the powers that be, 'No, I will not. This is wrong, and I don't care if you fire me, shoot me, pass me over for promotion, or call my mother, I will not participate in this unsavory activity.' Wouldn't world history be rewritten if just a few people had actually acted like individual free agents rather than mindless lemmings?
A farm includes the passion of the farmer's heart, the interest of the farm's customers, the biological activity in the soil, the pleasantness of the air about the farm -- it's everything touching, emanating from, and supplying that piece of landscape. A farm is virtually a living organism. The tragedy of our time is that cultural philosophies and market realities are squeezing life's vitality out of most farms. And that is why the average farmer is now 60 years old. Serfdom just doesn't attract the best and brightest.
On a grander scale, when a society segregates itself, the consequences affect the economy, the emotions, and the ecology. That's one reason why it's easy for pro-lifers to eat factory-raised animals that disrespect everything sacred about creation. And that is why it's easy for rabid environmentalists to hate chainsaws even though they snuggle into a mattress supported by a black walnut bedstead.
A farm regulated to production of raw commodities is not a farm at all. It is a temporary blip until the land is used up, the water polluted, the neighbors nauseated, and the air unbreathable. The farmhouse, the concrete, the machinery, and outbuildings become relics of a bygone vibrancy when another family farm moves to the city financial centers for relief.
This magical, marvelous food on our plate, this sustenance we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a legacy. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge; folks, this ain't normal.
A farmer friend of mine told me recently about a busload of middle school children who came to his farm for a tour. The first two boys off the bus asked, Where is the salsa tree? They thought they could go pick salsa, like apples and peaches. Oh my. What do they put on SAT tests to measure this? Does anybody care? How little can a person know about food and still make educated decisions about it? Is this knowledge going to change before they enter the voting booth? Now that's a scary thought.
Farms and food production should be, I submit, at least as important as who pierced their navel in Hollywood this week. Please tell me I'm not the only one who believes this. Please. As a culture, we think we're well educated, but I'm not sure that what we've learned necessarily helps us survive.
I saw a news report recently that measured average video game use by American men between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five: twenty hours per week. Do you mean the flower of America's masculinity can't think of anything more important to do with twenty hours a week than sit in front of a video screen? Folks, this ain't normal. Can't we unplug already?
Read things you're sure will disagree with your current thinking. If you're a die-hard anti-animal person, read Meat. If you're a die-hard global warming advocate, read Glenn Beck. If you're a Rush Limbaugh fan, read James W. Loewen's Lies My Teachers Told Me. It'll do your mind good and get your heart rate up.
The same teen who can't legally operate a four-wheeler, or [ATV]...in a farm lane workplace environment can operate a jacked-up F-250 pickup on a crowded urban expressway. By denying these [farm work] opportunities to bring value to their own lives and the community around them, we've relegated our young adults to teenage foolishness. Then as a culture we walk around shaking our heads in bewilderment at these young people with retarded maturity. Never in life do people have as much energy as in their teens, and to criminalize leveraging it is certainly one of our nation's greatest resource blunders.
You, as a food buyer, have the distinct privilege of proactively participating in shaping the world your children will inherit.
The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.
The average person is still under the aberrant delusion that food should be somebody else's responsibility until I'm ready to eat it.
Food security is not in the supermarket. It's not in the government. It's not at the emergency services division. True food security is the historical normalcy of packing it in during the abundant times, building that in-house larder, and resting easy knowing that our little ones are not dependent on next week's farmers' market or the electronic cashiers at the supermarket.
That many if not most people...who want fresh leafy greens in January buy them at the supermarket after they've been bleached and plastic-bag shipped from California or beyond is not a tribute to modern technology, it's an unprecedented abdication of personal responsibility and a ubiquitous benchmark of abnormality.
In my opinion, if there is one extremely legitimate use for petroleum besides running wood chippers and front-end loaders to handle compost, it's making plastic for season extension. It parks many of the trucks [for cross-country produce transportation]. With the trucks parked, greenhouses, tall tunnels, and more seasonal, localized eating, can we feed ourselves? We still have to answer that burning question.
How many of us lobby for green energy or protected lands, but don't engage with the local bounty to lay by for tomorrow's unseasonal reality? That we tend to not even think about this as a foundation for solutions in our food systems shows how quickly we want other people to solve these issues.
We've created a tenfold core value protocol to make sure that we don't fall into an 'empire' attitude.
Our motto is we respect and honour the pigness of the pig and the chickenness of the chicken. That means not confining them in a house with hundreds of others.
The cycle of life is death, decomposition and regeneration, and a person who wants to stop killing animals is actually anti-life because it's only in death that life can be regenerated.
The shorter the chain between raw food and fork, the fresher it is and the more transparent the system is.
You can't have a healthy civilization without healthy soil. You can't have junk food and have healthy people.
Frankly, any city person who doesn't think I deserve a white-collar salary as a farmer doesn't deserve my special food.
There's a short chain between field and fork, and the shorter that chain is - the fresher, the more transparent that system is - the less chance there is of anything from bio-terrorism to pathogenicity to spoilage.
We control health and pathogenicity by complex multi-speciated relationships through symbiosis and synergy. Portable shelters for livestock, along with electric fencing, insure hygienic and sanitary housing and lounging areas, not to mention clean air, sunshine, and exercise.
What we're looking at is God's design, nature's template, and using that as a pattern to cut around and lay it down on a domestic model to duplicate that pattern that we see in nature.
We believe that the farm should be building 'forgiveness' into the ecosystem. What does that mean? That a more forgiving ecosystem is one that can better handle drought, flood, disease, pestilence.
From my earliest memories, I loved the farm. My grandfather was a charter subscriber to Rodale's Organic Gardening and Farming Magazine and had a huge, well kept garden with an octagonal chicken house in the corner.
Our land-healing ministry really is about cultivating relationships: between the people, the loving stewards, and the ecology of a place, what I call the environmental umbilical that we're nurturing here.