Heres a report on a food fight that has nothing to do with juveniles in a school cafeteria. I found, in a recent epistle from Ernie Birchmeier of Michigan Farm Bureau, multiple mirrors of my own thoughts on a far more serious and far-reaching kind of a food fight. The combatants in this food fight are various factions striving to promote their own food production system, insisting on a particular train of thought leading to what foods are best for us. I will give most of those factions some credit for, while telling us WHAT is good/bad for us, many of them tell us WHY - - or at least attempt to.
I offer these controversies in no particular order, starting with the organics folks. They started with the assumption that modern production systems are bad, and touted the organics as more healthful - - although theres little or no scientific support for such claims.
We also are told that if we buy locally, we minimize our carbon footprint (a bit of a reach, I think) and support our local communities by concentrating on locally grown food. Well, yeah - - that does support the farmers markets to the extent that local producers produce all thats desired locally. If a local producer is big enough, area supermarkets may stock that local produce.
Then come the animal rights people. Out of this comes free range chickens, group housing of swine, and so on. No worries about the fox getting into the hen house, cause there is no house. The chickens are free for the taking in the great outdoors! Pigs dont enjoy each others company either. I was just sitting on the top rail of a pig pen watching Dad feeding them, when one of them latched onto me and tore the toe right out of my boot. I was lucky that the boots were a little big on me. I didnt lose any skin.
Ernie says, Ive seen firsthand what a bully sow will do to her pen mates.! Farmers invest money in their livestock, and make a living from it. Dont you imagine farmers might know better than the fuzzy feeling folks whats best for their profit producing animals?
Sustainable Agriculture! Doesnt that just bowl you over with the imagined impact of agriculture that is sustainable . . . Or what does that mean? Ask some of those sustainable agriculture proponents what it means, and youre likely to come up with that old Supreme Court Justice observation on pornography - - I cant describe it, but I know it when I see it. . .
Ernie says sustainable agriculture comes by way of the latest technology and management practices, while protecting the environment and enhancing our livelihoods and communities
Ernie Birchmeier says, If I stayed away from everything supposedly bad for me, Id probably starve to death.
My own cardiologist says of food, no matter its origin, If it tastes good, spit it out. Food fights are not productive, no matter the venue.
Karl Guenther is a retired Kalamazoo farm broadcaster and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . He is a member of Michigan Farm Bureau and an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.