Weak links

Food system’s weaknesses show need for something better

By Allen Williams
The Covid-19 pandemic has created significant upheaval across the world, and certainly right here in the U.S.

With the shelter-in-place orders, restaurants closing to inside dining, and schools and universities shutting down in-person education, the impact on agriculture and the food industries has been monumental.

Continue reading “Weak links”

Price alone won’t solve our problems

By Joel McNair

Many dairy farmers believe that low milk prices are the biggest danger to their livelihoods. For more than a few, the thought is that the best solution would be a Canadian-style supply management program to boost milk prices and keep them at profitable levels.

I don’t buy all of the arguments for quotas and such, and there is no reason to believe that our elected representatives will ever enact anything approaching Canada’s system. Continue reading “Price alone won’t solve our problems”

Drawing the line using peasant wisdom

By Jim Van Der Pol

Kerkhoven, Minnesota — We had been talking about the new dairy factories here in western Minnesota, my friend and I. We finished adding the 4,000 cows in the first one to the 10,000 in the next one, then the 10,000 cows in the just-completed one as well as the 10,000 in the just-proposed one. That is 34,000 cows, all within 12 miles of my house.

I told my friend that the dairy factories imported young men from South America to do the work and constructed bunkhouses at the site so they wouldn’t be bothersome in the town and create a public relations problem. Then, speaking from the experience of a lifetime in dairy farming, came his question: Continue reading “Drawing the line using peasant wisdom”

Feed the world? It’s up to us peasants

By Joel McNair

I’ve a dairy grazing friend who has long thought of himself as being nothing more than a peasant. A rather interesting view, I’ve thought, given that this man has made a fair amount of money operating at a scales far beyond those of the traditional midwestern dairy farmer. His house is nicer than mine.

A peasant he probably is, though, if one considers the size and clout held by agriculture’s true power brokers. ConAgra, Cargill, Monsanto, Smithfield/Shuanghui — an individual farmer cannot stand up to the likes of these behemoths no matter how many acres he might till or cows he can milk. One need look only at the history of our agricultural policy: What was once concerned primarily with keeping individuals on the land has morphed into something that is almost entirely about keeping food flows and processing/marketing profits on the upswing. Continue reading “Feed the world? It’s up to us peasants”

A story about the real meaning of real food

By Jim Van Der Pol

Kerkhoven, Minnesota — There is a trendy new “Foodie” culture, of which we are a part. We sell into it. We also never gave up cooking in our house. The Foodies often point out a generational difference in this way:

Your mother or grandmother, they say, might ask you after eating if you got enough, thus linking the provision of food with the concept of food as fuel. Your wife (husband?), lover, or live-in who cooks is more likely to ask if it was good, putting food and eating into the vicinity of sex, where the sensation is at least as important as the result. Foodie culture blames the first comment for all manner of modern ills, such as overeating and the consumption of bad food. And while it admires your grandmother for knowing the uses of a pot, it tut-tuts over her idea of a human as a hole to be filled. Continue reading “A story about the real meaning of real food”

The pattern of problems and solutions

By Jim Van Der Pol Kerkhoven, Minnesota — One pattern sometimes holds true in several different venues. That is true now of doctoring and farming, both of which are in a pretty advanced state of decay. Thoughtful people in both these areas are wondering how long the current practices and ideas can hold up.

Bruce Lipton, in his book The Biology of Belief, points out that it is conventionally accepted that 120,000 people die in the U.S. each year from adverse reactions to drugs. This would make prescription drugs the third leading cause of death. However, this count is obsolete, having been made in 2000. A 10-year survey of government statistics completed in 2003 shows that the real number may be closer to 300,000, making drugs the leading cause of death, according to Lipton. You will notice, of course, that this number never got talked about in our recent “health care debate.” But it presents the practitioners of conventional medicine with a picture of the dead end they are on, along with the knowledge that change is no longer just desirable, but absolutely necessary. Continue reading “The pattern of problems and solutions”