Ask A Farmer: Questions about food and farming abound


 

Image Credit: USFRA

I’ve had some pretty interesting comments on my recent CNN Eatocracy article: Farmers aren’t evil. Now can we have a civil conversation?

Here are a few worth sharing.

HomeGrower: I made it easier for myself. I don’t have to hold a dialogue with a farmer. I grow my produce sans GMO’s and chemicals and I can everything I grow. I also purchase my meat, dairy, and eggs from a free-range rancher in my community. I save a lot of money that way. It doesn’t cost me any more and I don’t make even close a six figure income. Solution found. I came to the conclusion long ago that I can’t leave my food decisions in anyone’s hands but my own and to rely on large production agriculture and politicians would be a waste of my time. The control was in my own hands. I wish you all luck in finding a mutually beneficial solution.

Response: You indicate that you don’t need to have dialogue with a farmer because you raise your own food and get the rest from a free-range rancher. I do believe the rancher is a farmer and you had an initial dialogue to determine his farming method. That is what the author is talking about. Don’t judge farmers until you know the facts. (I am from a small beef farm operation 30 head that is about as free range as you can get with 400 acres. So I thank you for supporting local)

Think about it folks. No one is above having conversations about food. But it takes having an open mind and listening. You might have had a conversation started and didn’t recognize it.

Jen:When it comes to livestock production, my question would be even if you are giving the animals a humane existence before you kill them. why are you involved in a practice that is depleting our water supply (it takes 2000 gallons of water to produce 1 lb of beef), dirtying our waterways, and contributing to 37% of greenhouse gases? How can a beef farmer possibly help or improve the environment? I would really like to know.

I hear a huge variety of facts and figures passed around. Sometimes it feels like I’m in a game of telephone. Be careful that material isn’t taken out of context.

Jess:Less than 1% of earths water is drinkable & 70% of corn is fed to livestock instead of billions of starving people. 14 Trillion gallons of water are used to grow USA livestock food. Is consuming all the worlds drinkable water & speeding up human extinction for a profit good or evil?

It’s important to read an article before leaving comments. Are you willing to consider asking questions in a way that makes it easier to engage a conversation rather than an accusation?

Instead of “Why do you poison our food supply with chemicals and GMOs?” maybe someone not on the farm could ask a farmer, “How does your use of chemicals and technology affect the safety of food and our environment?” I know it takes a mind shift and I am trying to make one on my end too, but if both sides shift toward openness rather than assumption.

All of the comments I have received aren’t negative. Some folks are really challenging me with honest questions. Sometimes it is concerns I haven’t considered.

Elias:I am curious what farmers do with unsold produce or culls. There is a variety of options I suppose, but how can a farmer reduce their own waste and loss of investment?

How do we reduce waste and what do we do with it?

Jeremy:As a beef cattle farmer I want to thank you for being a rational voice on these issues. I am not an animal activist by any means however I often see animals being abused without reason and that disturbs me. Factory farming troubles me as well.

Customers aren’t the only ones who have questions. Farmers have questions about farming methods they are not familiar with.

So reach out there and ask a farmer about your concerns in food and farming. Start a dialogue. Join a conversation.

@MizAlisa: When you listen to others with your full attention, that is when they will begin to hear you.

Submit your question today by using the Ask A Farmer tab at the top of my blog

 

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About Ryan Goodman (988 Articles)
Ryan Goodman lives in Helena, MT and comes from an Arkansas cattle ranching family. Since growing up on a family cow/calf and stocker-calf operation, he has spent the last several years learning about farming systems across the country. A graduate of Oklahoma State, Ryan is currently working on a Master's degree from the University of Tennessee. He works continuously to share his story of ranch life through community outreach and social media, all while encouraging others in agriculture to do the same.

2 Comments on Ask A Farmer: Questions about food and farming abound

  1. I really like getting thoughtful questions from the non-farm community. I’m often surprised at what they asked which stems from the fact I do what I do everyday so it’s all normal to me. It’s good to hear from others even if it makes questions your own beliefs from time to time.

    Like

    • Thanks Brian. It’s not always a bad thing to reflect on our own beliefs. If anything, it makes us understand them better.

      Like

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