By Toni Anne Sarlo, Farm & Food Care
I never had a doubt in my mind that farming was hard work, but that was about the extent of my agricultural knowledge before joining the team at Farm & Food Care.
I don’t want to say that I was ignorant — let’s go with uninformed. I have lived my entire life in Toronto, or the Greater Toronto Area, and the closest I came to a farm was our annual family visit to Chudleigh’s Apple Farm. Granted, I do love fresh, crisp apples when they are in season, but it didn’t exactly show me what farming entails.
I think I speak on behalf of most city folk when I say that we are not educated about farming truths, enlightened about its multi-layered issues/workings, taught about the challenges or exposed to the lifestyle. Living in the city, we are not aware of the path our food has travelled to get to us.
We follow what’s trending, not always what’s right. Is it hormone free? Is it organic? Does it have GMOs? These are questions with preferred responses suggested by the media or marketing professionals. Our decisions are influenced by advertisers far too often, it’s true.
I recently started working in agriculture, and it has changed my life. My former perspective of the agricultural industry and its complexity could not have been more wrong. I used to be skeptical about farming practises and was deterred by negative publicity often associated with farming, but I no longer have that impression. I am conscious about the intricacies of farming and am able to make decisions based on my own experience.
I have been given the opportunity to visit varying farm types. Subsequently, I have toured, observed and spoken to farmers and family members while in their element. These are the people with real knowledge who live and breathe farming in all capacities. They know firsthand what the daily challenges are and what techniques are best utilized to improve sustainability. Agriculture is forever changing and progressing, and embracing innovation.
Conversations with farmers and those who represent the farming community have opened my eyes to a culture that I was only vaguely aware of previously. The passion and heart that drives this industry is overwhelming and exciting. I have learned that it’s so important to dig for the facts, and one of the best ways is to go directly to the source.
What I’ve learned, is that there is no black and white, rather a large grey canvas for us to draw our own conclusions. The difference for me, now, is that I feel more informed as a consumer and can avoid blindly following trends. I have developed a new found enthusiasm and appreciation for farming, and look forward to learning more.