Saturday, March 20, 2010

A title

It seems that we all need to title ourselves or what we do. Maybe it makes us feel more important. Now that I have a kid my "mother" title follows me wherever I go, although I love being a mother I find it frustrating that this becomes my title- Chuck's title is never father. Anyway I digress. With this upcoming discussion we are having at our local community college Chuck and I have been having a discussion of our own. What do we do- what kind of farmer are we? Seems like we need to define ourselves. We certainly are not conventional, or confinement farmers. So what are we? Organic? No, not only are we not certified we only feed grains from our local mill (supporting local is very important to us) and our local farmers do not grow organic grains (the grains go to the chickens and the pigs). I used to say we were sustainable, that is until Monsanto started claiming it was sustainable, and there is no way we want to be associated with Monsanto's idea of sustainable. So who the heck are we? People like Joel Salatin call themselves grass farmers, but it does not give consumers that beautiful picture in their heads of cows out in a pasture eating green grass enjoying the sun. It makes me think of our neighbor who has no livestock and grows hay to sell in the winter. I like the term pastured to describe how our animals are raised, but then does that make us pasture farmers?? I think just farmer is good enough, but then we seem to feel a need to describe in more detail what and how we farm. So what about responsibly farming? We are responsible farmers. We know are animals, we know what they need, we know the capacity of are land, we know what our breeds are capable of producing on a natural diet, we know our animals need no additional medication to keep them producing. In return our animals trust us, they produce for us, they are healthy, our customers know where their food is coming from, they feel good about what they are eating, they are healthy. This is responsible farming, we are responsible farmers, our products are responsibly grown.

The downside, anyone can claim responsible farming because it is so subjective. This I am afraid, I have to say again, is where the consumer comes in. It is your responsibility to become a educated consumer. Know where your food comes from- put a face on your food.

1 comment:

Ahna said...

I have also run into this conundrum. You can't say you are a farmer because most people think that you are a "conventional" farmer. Actually, "traditional" farmer would be more correct because conventional farming is only a recent and passing (and erroneous) fad of the last 60 years. The sustainable and organic farm is what our grandparents were doing. But whatever terms we come up with will eventually be adopted and colonized in the conventional markets by the big corporations like Monsanto because that is where they have meaning for the majority.