“For newcomers, though, this is precisely the issue because, as Ms. Chase says, “If you could make a good living farming, people would go into it and stay in it.”
The simple answer, of course, is to charge more for food. But can an increasing number of sustainable farms find markets for higher-quality, higher-priced produce?
Here, the answers become complicated: “If the cost of food reflected the cost of production,” says Ms. Chase, “that would change everything.” And this is undoubtedly true. But though sustainably produced food is too expensive for some, conventional food doesn’t reflect either the subsidies required to grow it or the huge environmental or health care costs it incurs. Once it does, sustainable food would appear far more competitive.
Then we’d see more farmers growing it, not only in Maine but everywhere else. Which would, indeed, be better for everyone.” – Mark Bittman, New Farmers Find Their Footing. 8/16/11, New York Times.
As you know I am pretty into the sustainable farming/life ideology. It seems trendy now, but really so do leggings, and as we know that is not a new idea (please, tell your 12 year olds). Sustainable farming is just taking a step back into the past before we “progressed” and “improved” our relationship with food production and consumption. Before tomatoes were available all year and you only had meat on special occasions. That time has whizzed past us with such great speed and determination that we hardly recognize the descriptions of our grandparent stories of baking, cooking, canning and harvesting.
Past notions of food consumption seem silly and antiquated. Many a time I have said to my Grandmother, “Theresa, you know the depression is over? You can have more than a sliver of cake.”
But in her mind, all these years later, taking more than you need is still not an option. Today, we are so accustomed to having all we need that we constantly buy and throw out extra and left over food. We make more and eat more than we should. Consume and discard without a twinge of guilt.
Cakes, pies and meats, that while tasty are not so good for you, have lost their value as special. When you can suck down a ho-ho and slim jim at the same time in any gas station, why wait to have meat on Sunday? Or cakes on holidays? That’s just silly, isn’t it? Gram, you’re crazy! Hand me that chocolate cake and I’ll see you for Bacon and Bacon in the morning!
I read the above article and was interested to see that more and more at home agriculture seems to be picking up among the younger generations. We may never see the pervasive at home food production of our grandparent’s generation but I think people are beginning to glance in the right direction.
Although new and dangerously close to garden failure (there is talk of my garden rebelling and moving itself next door, I’ve heard its heretic speeches) I am spurred on to keep at it. What’s the worst that could happen? So my peeps, I encourage you…
Grow your little hearts out!