but i need to perseverate on farming.
(*dear google, “perseverate” is not in your spell checker. please adjust).
about a week ago i couldn’t sleep for, oh, 4 hours, so i had to just lie there with my thoughts. sometimes this is good company, sometimes bad. this particular evening it resulted in a somewhat random IM conversation with a coworker. it went a little something like this:
Me: i have a non-work related question when you have a chance.
DW: fire away.
Me: what if all the farmers stopped growing soybeans and the feed corn that we don’t eat and instead raised broccoli and green beans?
DW: there would be a total global collapse – why do you ask? (*exact quote)
Me: couldn’t sleep last night. figured you’d prefer i waited until today to ask.
DW: strange things keep you up at night
Me: well, i was thinking about how to explain to the babysitter my weird preferences for feeding henry non-processed foods
DW: I see – so no red meat for Henry. ever.
Me: no, he eats meat. but we bought a local, free range cow.
DW: so you think that cows should eat brocoli?
Me: not necessarily
DW: but without supplemental feeding demand would outwiegh supply
Me: well, we could eat LESS meat
DW: well, maybe YOU could eat less meat. i can’t.
the conversation went on and was quite good about the possible effects of changing farming practices. it should be noted here that the entire conversation was held while i ate dark chocolate m&ms. but here was my main point that caused me to not return to sleep that night: it seems as if our agricultural decisions may, perhaps, be driven only by the dollar and not actual gastronomical needs.
I find it incredibly interesting that a company, such as pepsi (pepsi is always the bad guy because i love diet coke too much) can buy ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup, which required significant proccessing – aka, labor, technology, packaging, shipping – then put the ingredients together, package, distribute AND STILL purchase million dollar superbowl ad spots while only charging $1 for its product (and note, you can buy that product in jumbo 2-liter size or in handy 20-oz gas station size, all for same said low price. what a sham!). $1! but say you’d like a bag of grapes. no packaging other than a plastic baggie, and the last time i saw a grape commercial was… *cricket, cricket.* DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH A BAG OF GRAPES CAN BE? i have a fb “friend” who quoted a price that was well-over several 2-liters.
Now, i grew up “down on the farm.” My college education was purchased in beans and i’m appreciative. but that doesn’t mean i can’t question the system. a large majority of midwestern farmers grow corn, used primarily for feeding livestock, or soybeans- and until my sister had a brief stint of vegetarianism, i had no idea what THOSE were used for. but they’re everywhere. so why do we grow them? a brief (but work-time, so limited) google search points some fingers at government subsidies, and my buddy Michael Pollen might agree (from the tone of his writing). but what if… WHAT IF we grew broccoli and green beans instead? foods that people actually eat to nourish their bodies.
it was at least 4 hours i didn’t sleep, so i can keep going. i even thought through the logistics. i’m not sure a combine (the noun, not the verb, for you cityfolk) would be useful in harvesting broccoli, but it could still work with green beans. then there are the veggies that require digging – such as potatoes. but isn’t this an opportunity for technology to be birthed? to come up with a way to harvest healthy foods that don’t come at the expense of 12-year-old minimum wage hands? (though i would argue that our society’s kids could use a little more manual labor through adolescence).
i’m thinking of my own hometown now. what if all the farmers took some time off of corn and beans and instead raised fruits and veggies. now, DW is correct – the cows would go hungry. but those are typically industry farm cattle where the cows aren’t that happy living in a 2×2 square, so let’s just stop mass producing our meat (and trying to make it bigger and more cost efficent by altering the hormones God gave it). i think we could do a little less in our diet. even the FDA says that an actual serving of beef is the size of a deck of cards, not a steak the size of a serving platter. i’ve read “somewhere” (bad blogger! not giving references! i’m guessing Runners World) that going veg 2 of 3 meals or 4 of 7 days a week is very restful and healthy. and since we’d be farming broccoli, there would be plenty of that to fill the plate.
So, that’s just one sleepless night in the world of me. i hope tonight the sandman makes another visit. this is just too much.