In this post, we’re pleased to feature a blog written by Ontario farmer Sandi Brock. You can follow Sandi’s posts at http://staffachickfarmer.blogspot.ca/
Guest blog by Sandi Brock (Reprinted with permission)
Hard to put into writing what we sometimes feel. Farming lately has felt like a David vs. Goliath type of battle. I’m growing weary of this fight. We (farmers) are being targeted by media. Media likes a story, the worse it is, the better for them. Unfortunately, it leaves our consumers confused, scared and ultimately turned off. Gone are the days when we were all reliant on our land, our animals and our hands to feed our families. Let’s face it, the majority of our friends, neighbors and families do not farm. In fact, they may have a hard time remembering even being to a farm that was maybe a grand-parent’s or great grand-parent’s.
This then becomes our lop-sided battle.
There are just not enough of us to overpower the damage the media is doing. Farming to them is a story. To us, it is our life. It is our blood, sweat and tears. It is our income, our pride, and our contribution to a huge sector of our community and country. We don’t do this to become millionaires. We are happy to get one good year in five. We live at the mercy of the weather, the consumer, and the lenders. If any one of these are not in sync, we don’t meet our goals.
We do this because it’s in our bones. We do this because we love it. We do this because, ultimately, we all like to eat.
So that’s my side. But, it’s not enough. We need to educate. Not the other farmers, which we often find ourselves doing. It’s comfortable to talk to others that do what you do. But, that’s easy. The harder conversations need to be had with your friends in town, your neighbors, your kid’s teachers. We need to be honest and open about what we do, how we do it and most importantly, why we farm. This is the message that needs to be spread like wildfire. The problem is, we don’t take the time. I know while struggling through this fall, the last thing I feel like doing is justifying my farming practices. We are tired, stressed and feeling a bit discouraged. Day after day is another damaging story about our industry. Are they true? Likely not, but does it matter? No. It has made people hesitate. Even me, seeing stories that are edited to create fear, have made me just a little more on edge.
I love our farm. I love promoting it, letting people see what we do and getting our story out. But lately, I’ve found I’m double checking what I say, what pictures I post for fear my message has come out wrong. When did this happen? I find myself paranoid that if my barn floors aren’t swept, I’ll have someone show up and think we are lazy and sloppy. It may just be a case of OCD, or it may be that we all are becoming a bit more aware that we are being watched.
I guess my take home message of this long sermon, is food production is a long chain. Yes, we are the primary producer, but there is a long line of middlemen involved in this process before you sit down to your meal. I’m not a scientist, but I’d bet that it’s not the wheat giving you wheat belly. It’s not red meat making your kids hit puberty before you did. My best guess is that it’s the stuff we didn’t eat when we were growing up. I didn’t have a microwave until high school. Our meals were our butchered cull cows, potatoes and vegetables. They didn’t come from a box. The difference in our food is our processing. We want convenient, fast food. With this comes preservatives. Could it be, that maybe, instead of pointing our google-educated fingers at a producer, we maybe should look at all those little ingredients we can’t pronounce?
Please, if you eat, remember that a lot of work has gone into every morsel on your plate. We care for our animals (to us, they are an extension of our family) and our land. We value our opportunity to continue another generation of farming and leaving it in better condition than when we began. Our story will continue to be told, for as long as we are blessed to do so.