Last weekend 4 of us (Aurora, Chris, Kate & I) went to the Small Farmers Conference at OSU.
We stayed Friday night with Aunt Lani and got to talk with her about her Ethics of Whiteness class -fascinating stuff about how the landowners purposely instituted racism by giving poor whites more rights and breaking up the previous solidarity between the poor. But I digress.
The day was packed full of topics and free coffee (it was such a decadent treat to be able to wander through the day with my cup in hand, soaking up info).
The keynote speaker was from xxx and called for a new brand “small farmers”. Not sure about that from a marketing perspective. Do we have too many to add to consumers’ list already along with ‘organic’ and ‘local’? He said something interesting though: that most livestock work is now done by employees vs the farmers themselves. So farm communities now have a few elite, many underclass, and no middle class. Sounds like what’s happening on a larger scale. Supporting small starts to change that.
I chose the wrong breakout session for the first one (it was geared towards how to give an orchard tour to farmers market managers vs to the public as I thought) but the second one was about the new Market Bill which will let us get products (like jam) to market without a ton of regulations and the third was about how to do a market analysis which was casually thrown out there, rambling and way over my head.
The main things that stuck out to me were two interactions about GMOs. The first was a conversation with a woman at lunch who raises chickens that lay green eggs and who studied genetics in college. When I asked her how she felt about GMOs, she started out by saying there is no way to feed the world without them unless people stop reproducing at the current rate.
This is the main thing Mansanto says on their website and it’s a powerful idea. But there’s a lot out there showing that it’s not true. First, I’ve read that we have plenty of food -in fact was have a ton of waste- but that the issue is distribution and overpricing. And second, studies show that organic farming is more productive than ‘conventional’.
And when I talked with her about these things, she knew them and agreed and it turned out she was totally anti GMO (mainly due to her Christian beliefs) and was 100% organic farming. So, we need to start really breaking down that ‘feed the world’ argument since it’s still the main thinking out there.