Tuesday, May 12, 2015

We're Winning

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

Ignoring Us

Yesterday I was talking to a customer who remembers me as a vendor at the farmers' market about 10 years ago. Back then, I was mainly selling crafts but would also sell our surplus produce. The "organic" rules at the time allowed us to call ourselves "organic." (Now we call ourselves "chemical free" and explain to our customers what that means). Unfortunately at that time, our community didn't even know what organic was (or chemical free for that matter), so it really didn't matter what I called our produce. My prices didn't even reflect the true value of the food since I had to charge the same price as conventional growers.

Ridiculing Us

When Bill moved here full time and we ramped up our farming operation, we sold at a different market for a couple of years. We had to put up with comments and eye rolling from some vendors and customers. A neighbor told Bill that what we're trying to do for a living and for the world was a "bunch of bunk." Just last week someone told me that the world can't go organic "unless you want 2 million people to die." Really? While in times of crisis, I'm glad the US is able to send food overseas to help. However, as I told this person, the food aid we send regularly doesn't help - it really hurts. Working in Haiti, I saw how farmers - farmers who could grow their own food and do so without chemicals - were run out of business because they could not compete with the free rice distributed throughout the country (and often ended up for sale on the black market). This morning, while reading through Heifer International's World Ark magazine, I saw that 80 percent of certified organic farmers live in developing nations, with India, Uganda, and Mexico having the most certified producers. These are only the certified ones; imagine how many are using organic methods but just aren't certified (probably because they don't care about certification, they just want to feed their people). Certification is expensive, so are herbicides, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and GMO seeds. Obviously, organic methods are the way for developing countries to go. Only rich Westerners can even afford to use chemicals. Also, three of the major crops grown in the US - soy, corn, wheat - don't necessarily feed people. They feed animals. "Conventional" is not feeding the world and keeping 2 million people from dying.

Fighting Us

Some citizens in our area are jonesing for an integrated poultry complex, along with 500 of those industrial chicken houses. They say it's good for the community, that it will provide jobs. Without going into the disastrous history of these types of operations (disastrous for the communities, not the corporations), I'll just point out that there's a lot of behind the scenes maneuvering going on. For the initial meeting for farms interested in being involved in this industry, email invites were sent out to local farmers. Needless to say, neither we nor any of the other sustainable farmers were invited. Documents have been prepared calling people like us the "noes" and that we "need to be educated." 


The writing is on the wall. While we aren't going to win every battle, we will win the war. 
With declining health in our community and around the country, people are looking for answers. And they know they're not finding it in chemically-grown food or pharmaceuticals. We need to stop poisoning our bodies and our planet. We need healthy, chemical-free food and clean water to nourish our bodies. People are taking note of how much better they feel when they eat healthy food. They are paying attention (and being truly "educated") as more studies come out showing the connection between the poisons in our food (and other products) and diseases, such as cancer. They want healthy alternatives. 

Fast forward 10 years after I started selling at the farmers' market and I now see about 7 vendors selling some version of chemical-free food (and body products). Not only are there more like-minded vendors, the customers are seeking us out, and paying full value for what we sell. And there are professionals in our area who know that local, sustainable food is good for communities (they've been "educated") and are working towards boosting that segment of food production.

Maybe the community will go forward with the poultry program (I hope not); there's a lot of pressure on the politicians for them to do so. However, if they do, in a few short years they will see the error of their ways and maybe, just maybe, that will make them look at us in a different light. And we win.

1 comment:

ain't for city gals said...

I just shake my head when I read this...it is all just so ridiculous. I compare it to the smoking era...first it was ignorance then people just want to do it. Education is the answer but girl it is hard...a lot of times I just give up. But then I get back up and try again When our little farmer's market opened a couple of years ago people would try to give me deals...I told them no...this is good food and it is worth it!