The huge group photo on their website made me laugh. The picture of diversity!
Yeah, because the U.S. was a rural, agrarian society back then… wow…
This is the crux of the problem: expense. Its not educated folk reading articles about corrupt FDA policies that you have to convince. Its the people who live paycheck to paycheck who can’t and/or won’t change their habits. Generally I think those people buy food for convenience and for perceived value, and I don’t see how it would be worth their time to seek out more expensive alternatives to going to the grocery store and picking up a vacuum packed slab of cheap pink meat.
God, I hadn’t even clicked through to see it, but yeah.
Actually, it is the educated folks, because they’re the ones constantly using price as an excuse to not support the system. Listen, I’ve interviewed tons of farmers and put years into researching this topic, not to mention years developing and sustaining our local CSA infrastructure (along with a lot of other people, of course.) I understand why a lot of people aren’t going to start buying pricier food right now. That’s fine and completely understandable. That’s like step #20. Step #1 is convincing all the people who CAN afford that food to realize just how much they will benefit from switching to that system. It’s such a no-brainer once you think about it. “Cheap” food is actually way more expensive when you factor in all the invisible costs- health, quality, government subsidies, etc. You’re actually getting a better long-term deal at the farmers’ market, but because the sticker price doesn’t seem that way, you opt for the short-term cheaper deal.
But here’s what would happen if we could at least get the middle class on board with this system: more people would start farming as the demand increased. Furthermore, local governments would start allocating more money towards the development of such farming systems. Speak to any agricultural expert on the subject and they will readily admit that if small-scale organic style farms had the amount of government money for R&D that big farms have had, they would have, by now, come up with plenty of methods and innovations that would have brought the price down even more. So between the supply/demand rule of economy and government support, all that expensive food would actually be more affordable.
Once such things become more and more commonplace, and the price goes down, THEN the folks who can’t afford it will start to be able to afford it. Given enough time and willpower, we can eventually replace a system that is already doomed for many concrete reasons other than the food safety issue Maggie brought up. In the meantime, local governments have come up with programs to make this kind of food affordable to folks who wouldn’t think of getting it. In NYC, you can use your EBT / food stamps at farmers markets and get double your value (so $1 food stamp credit = $2 farmer’s market price.) Every CSA I know offers some kind of plan for folks who can’t afford the normal plan, whether it’s a half price subsidized share or a sliding scale depending on income.
You also have to keep in mind that not that many decades ago, we spent a much higher percentage of our income on food. The “high prices” you see in farmers’ markets today are actually, cost-of-living-wise, comparable to what your parents or grandparents were paying back then. It’s just that we, as a nation, decided that we wanted Americans to spend their money on other things like tv sets and entertainment systems, which could only happen if they spent less on other things. So we focused on making food cheaper and easier to grow, so that the price would go down and leave you room to keep our big fat American economy cranking for several decades.
Now the system is showing its true colors of wear and tear, and we need to do something about it. Hence my impassioned posts here. In the long run, the cheap food you’re defending is way more expensive than what I’m talking about. Don’t take my word for it- do your research, talk to farmers, see what it’s all about. This is some pretty essential, basic stuff we need to figure out fast.
Maggie, come on, that’s a straw man argument you’re doing there. No one is advocating violence. Medievalist’s point was to show you that the people have a lot more power than you give them credit for. Several hundred years ago, that was a viable means of action. Today, not so much, but we still have power to change things.
I’ll reiterate my point: I am all for fixing the FDA. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon- the corruption goes real deep, and you have to eat- several times a day. Your kids have to eat. Most of the food sold in most supermarkets… pretty terrible. Meanwhile, there is a viable alternative right now people can support that circumvents this ridiculously perilous food system. It functions incredibly well because its built on transparency, accountability, and personal relationships. I’m pretty sure you don’t need or want a government agent living with you just in case your husband decides to chop you up into hundred pieces tomorrow. Why? Because you trust him, because you have developed a relationship and a living arrangement that works. It might not work 100% of the time, but it works well enough and you have every reason to believe it will keep working for a long time.
What is true for two people is true for all of us. A system based on these same principles doesn’t need cops, it works because everyone involved is invested in it and understands its value. You can actually be a part of such a system without being a “selfish, money-grubbing libertarian” or whatever other stereotype one wishes to create. I don’t actually feel the need to abolish our government right now. I’m just pointing out that they aren’t actually as essential as we have come to believe they are. When it comes to big systems like Wall Street, yes, we need something like that. The whole thing is a mess beyond our control, sadly. When it comes to our food, thankfully, we don’t need such oversight, not in the system I’ve described, for all the reasons I already gave. I can say with confidence that I know where the majority of my food comes from- who grew it, how they grew it, where it’s been. Can you?
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