Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
When you see an ad for a fast food restaurant what do you see? Because I don’t pay for commercial television (pun very much intended) out of principal, I cannot speak to their TV ads however I do see plenty of McDonald’s ads on busses. Each one tries to hammer home a similar message; that their food will make you happy, attractive and will make you feel good. This, aside from the attractive part at least, is the same marketing strategy as a carnival. A carnival sells tickets with the promise of bringing some sort of enjoyment and happiness to the people. Where am I going with this?
Every week I receive an e-mail blast from my local farmers market. They seem to have such little faith in our local farmer’s ability to bring in customers they always have some sort of carnivalesque event to try to draw in the suburban masses. For example a few weeks ago they offered salsa dancing lessons, last week they had a few cooking demos and next week is the big event. I just found out they will be setting up a race track so people can decorate squashes and other produce, attach them to a pinewood derby car and race them. When I read this I was immediately sent into a rage. I began typing up a long scathing email to send to the ringmaster…I mean farmers market coordinator about his decision to undermine the quality of produce at our market. Then I thought better of it. I will calmly let him know about his misguided decision in person when I see him on Saturday. And I will certainly not participate in his zucchini race.
After I calmed down I started to try to unravel the emotional response this decision to decorate food elicited. At its very base it is just wasteful to participate in such an activity. With so many in this country suffering from malnourishment, living on a diet of chips and soda, why can’t we just offer to donate any excess produce to a local children’s shelter? Each person would give a few dollars to purchase a few items to donate.
At its height this decision is just another example of disgusting conspicuous consumption (not uncommon for Johns Creek). Would you ever see people decorating Big Mac’s, putting wheels on them and racing them? The answer is NO, that would be wasting food! So then why is it ok to slap a farmer in the face by essentially throwing his produce to the dogs? How has my local farmers market turned into a carnival and why is their marketing strategy akin to a fast food establishment? Because I the consumer let it happen. At some point in the evolution of this country we lost touch with the taste of good quality food and in this we also lost respect for it and for those who grow it. This is not only a marketing challenge but it is also a societal dilemma that we should really confront.
As a person who grows their own food I know just how hard it is. It’s not like you can just throw a seed on the ground and food will sprout from it. That seed must be tended, weeded, watered, fertilized, protected from pests, disease and animals. In essence real food must be carefully cultivated from the earth. Good, healthy, natural, organic food should be respected. So what is the message that we are sending to our local farmers when they see people painting their hard won products? It’s not a good one. In what other country would people so disrespect their food? I think about the Campo de Fiori market in Rome. This is a serious farmers market where local people come and interact with their local farmers. Standards are high and If someone has the reputation of spraying chemicals on their produce, they won’t last long here. The people take their health and their vegetables very seriously and this is something that the consumers in my community could learn a lot from. This is also something the local farmers could learn from too.
The takeaway is simple, like all good things in life. If you are a farmer who is dedicated to growing good, healthy food for your community, STAND YOUR GROUND. Establish your ethics and standards for quality. Do not let people downgrade your food by calling it yuppie food and do not charge less than it costs to produce in order to compete with industrial ag. What you produce is absolutely value added because it was grown outside of the industrial food chain. Take pride in your art because that is what it is. People are changing, they are coming around but there will always be those who are ignorant…educate them. Tell people why your tomatoes are better, healthier, and tastier and better for the environment than those trucked in from the San Joaquin Valley. Do not be bullied by those who say small farmers cannot feed the world, because they can. It just takes more of them than 1 percent of the population and this may be a wonderful way to stabilize a faltering economy. Maybe I’ll show up to my farmers market next week with a Big Mac, decorated and ready to race…Be the change.
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