Thursday, June 6, 2013

Agriculture

There is a bill about to be passed by congress that subsidizes big growers to make huge swaths of the stuff we've heard others complaining about for the past decade or so: high fructose corn syrup, soy additives, and doing so using pesticides and genetically engineered crops. It's creatively called the Farm Bill. I assume that it was originally created with good purpose to keep farmers from going belly up in bad seasons and ensure an ample amount of sustenance for the American population. It gets renewed every 5 years or so and has, over the years, mutated into something that has been tailor made to benefit big agro and those that can afford lobbyists and friends in Washington. This kind of subsidy is, first, a huge waste of taxpayers' money and, more importantly, all but removes the ability of the small farmer to remain competitive and self-sustaining due to the government's artificial steering of the market. I hope you had two reactions to that, "Damn, that makes me mad!" and "I wish I could do something about that!"

        You can. Here's what I did. It's not overly political. I didn't write my congressman. He wouldn't care anyway, since this is such a minor issue that he knows that he'll never get elected or unelected on farm subsidies. He might if I lived in, say, Nebraska. But I live in a Philadelphia suburb, so I doubt it's a big ticket issue. Not when we have things like gay marriage and illegal immigration to distract us. Sorry... here's what I did.

       I'm telling you about it. I am sharing my concern in the hopes that you will read this and agree and tell somebody else. The next thing is that I joined a CSA. That's Community Supported Agriculture. Yup, right here in Lower Bucks County, mere minutes from Levittown, there is a farm that is supported by members who get to reap the benefits of locally grown, pesticide free food. The CSA is mostly vegetables, they have a small assortment of fruits that do well in our growing zone (apples, strawberries, blackberries), they also sell eggs and have a pig share too. The first pick up is today and I will have fresh vegetables available every week until November. If you want to check it out in more detail, click here: Snipes Farm

      It's a small thing I know, but it's a start. We have to start believing that what we do makes a difference. Even the really small things. Buying things locally made supports your community and reduces the amount of fossil fuels used in transporting it. We have local breweries here too!! Neshaminy Creek Brewing There are wineries, and other local farms where you can buy direct, and don't have to join a CSA. I haven't done my research as to how environmentally friendly they are, but again, buying local is already a benefit, even if not organic.

      To come back to a final thought. I hate government involvement in almost everything. Protect my life, liberty and property, and I'll take care of the rest. I believe that we can truly use the free market to build the world we want, but we have to put our money where it will make a difference. We have to be moral consumers. I'm not saying you have to buy everything made in America, but let's stop buying from countries that are human rights violators. I'm thinking gasoline might be one of those things, when you consider where a lot of it comes from. Obviously, anything made in China would fit the bill. I don't think that we can legislate morality. Laws will never make men good. Ultimately, humanity will get the world that it deserves, by the choices its individuals make. You can change reality, by changing the world in your immediate grasp, you'll never change it by forcing people you don't know to obey statutes. The first part of that statement is the most important though. Never stop believing that what you do is important, and that it will have a positive or negative impact.