business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB posted an email the other day from a hog farmer in which he described the trials, tribulations and rewards of his profession…which generated several emails.

MNB user Lisa Malmarowski wrote:

I really appreciate that you published the comments from a farmer. Our American farms are disappearing fast and their voices need to be heard.

I also appreciate that you publish views on pasture-raised animals too. That's the bigger story in my opinion. Pasture raising animals, organic farming and diversified crop planting can really be the future of farming and feeding our country. For years, since the 40's if not earlier, our farmers have been sold the 'better living through chemistry' line. Our individual farms are being swallowed up by large agri-business (for various reasons) and Americans know less and less about where there food comes from, or even in some instances, what their food actually is.

I spent the day yesterday touring two local suppliers with 6 other people from my company- one an organic cracker manufacturer and one an organic farm. I asked our farmers who their neighbors were and they pointed to the vast fields of corn and said, 'conventional farmers who plant corn'. I asked this question while we stood in a field that was growing no less than 15 varieties of lettuce - a small portion of the 400 plus varieties of vegetables and fruits this 96 acre farm produces each year. He also employs 20 people through most of the growing season. Our farmers were marveling at how much corn their neighbors could produce with chemical and automation and no employees. None of their neighbors lived on the land as they did. And what was really interesting is how much science these farmers apply to their organic farm.

I do this for a living - I sell natural foods, organic produce, pasture raised meats... but let me tell you, nothing is more compelling that looking around you, listening to the farmers talk about growing the foods we sell in our stores. It's hard work stewarding the land and animals, but it's better for the animals, the plants the land and ultimately for us. And solid science helps them achieve this.

Farming is not romantic. It's hard work and I'm in awe of how much it takes to grow a single head of lettuce let alone nurture a hog to slaughter. It's time more people understand this and time that more farmers look inward and really think about the animals they raise and the land they leave behind to future generations.

MNB user Sally Malchow wrote:

I appreciated Chris Chinn’s letter on hog farming. I learned a lot and was reminded that few, if any issues are black and white. Thanks to Chris for writing it and thanks to Kevin for running it.

However, one MNB user wasn’t impressed by the hog farmer’s email:

This is a load of crap… carefully chosen language to make it sound like the animal industry CARES about what the animals actual experience during their short miserable lives. Notice not one word about whether these hogs can turn around or even take a single step in their cushy air-conditioned indoor crates? And not one word about how the animals are killed. They live in misery and die in terror and agony.

I think this is painting with a very broad brush. I simply don't believe that nobody in the animal industry cares about animals. Even though their actions result in all of eating them.

Sort of makes me feel guilty about that ham sandwich I had yesterday…

On a different subject, MNB user Frank Stallings wrote the following email:

In recognition of the person who suggested a few days ago that you see the positive side of many news stories instead of just the cynical side…. I offer this possible scenario as a consequence of the higher cost of fuel upon our daily lives, both here and abroad.

Having been brought up in a small town in NC, I fondly remember times when folks didn’t require massive vehicles to take them everywhere… we just walked over to our neighborhood grocery store to shop and walked next door to chat with our neighbors. The only footprint visible was our own in the grass. The premise is that as using fossil fueled transportation gets more expensive (including airplanes) millions of the world’s citizens will react in the only way they know how..... Stop (or at least reduce) doing that!! I’ve already started to commute using my motorcycle (50+ MPG) more often and the bicycle is next!

The positive side of this scenario is that perhaps, just possibly, many Americans will once again enjoy the fellowship of their own neighborhoods, local block parties, leisurely walks to local parks, and reminiscing about the good-ole days…. The only carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere will be from the heated debates!

And I haven’t even touched upon the valued horse as a means of transportation…

I have a teenaged daughter who probably would think that getting back to horses as a means of transportation would be a pretty good idea…
KC's View: