Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Great Debate

Life comes at you fast.  So does the opportunity to discuss your ideas and issues facing our country and especially agriculture.  This morning over coffee and the breakfast table, I found myself engaged in a debate over production agriculture and our food system.  It was great!  Although it left me worried about what people think and where they get their information, the debate also spurred my involvement and personal investment to get educated on some issues that urban people have with agriculture.  Here's my incite:

The number one issue I continually hear from opponents of our modern food production system is farm subsidies, especially those related to corn production.  Movies like Food Inc and King Corn have conveniently fed this ideal to an urban public such as the person I spoke with this morning.  In fact, this is the manner in which urban consumers are getting their information.  Many people align their beliefs with the agendas pushed by these easily consumable movie formats instead of getting information directly from the source.

Our conversation lasted for a good twenty minutes and it was invigorating.  From corn to pesticides, we ran a gamut of big issues and big grievances towards agriculture.  I heard a range of concerns from the thought that high fructose corn syrup is leading to obesity in poor inner city residents to the theory that our high use of corn is  a leading cause of diabetes.  This person also answered my direct question of "so you don't mind paying more for food" with "no, I think we need to pay more for food that is healthy and sustainable".  He also responded to the fact that "1 in 9 Americans are food insecure" by basically saying that they do not have access to the proper nutritious food and are duped into buying cheetos and the like because it is so cheap.

I try to lead my life in a conservative manner and can immediately see that his and my views on most anything probably would not align.  That's precisely why training myself in learning facts and thinking about ways to circumvent these discussion points with facts and emotion is so important.  Quite frankly, this small discussion provided me with a whole new wave of motivation to learn and advocate for agriculture and why it's important to our country in its current form.

Here's the take away that can apply to everyone in rural and urban areas.  Have an open mind and be courteous to one another when debating these important issues.  If we don't listen, we are unable to hear what we need to learn from each other and where the problems truly lie.  Also, get out there, communicate and advocate what you are passionate about. You'll hear what you need to study up on and maybe even find areas of improvement in how you operate. We need more people to stand up and say "hey Rural America matters and we're doing a great job out here!"  The other side is doing it with mass media initiatives, but that can't match the facts coming from someone working rural every day.

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