There seems to be an enormous disconnect in places like New York City between food and the farmers who produce it.
Take for example this editorial in the New York Times this week by Nicholas D. Kristof calling on president-elect Obama to appoint a “Secretary for Food” instead of agriculture.
Mr. Kristof says, “A Department of Agriculture made sense 100 years ago when 35 percent of Americans engaged in farming. But today, fewer than 2 percent are farmers. In contrast, 100 percent of Americans eat.”
Did it happen to occur to Mr. Kristof that that means two percent of our population feeds themselves and the other 98 percent – not to mention a good portion of the rest of the world? Nope. For some reason, he doesn’t appear to get that connection. Instead he says that renaming the USDA the “Department of Food” would move us “away from a bankrupt structure of factory farming that squanders energy, exacerbates climate change and makes Americans unhealthy — all while costing taxpayers billions of dollars.”
Then he proceeds to quote from anti-agriculture activist Michael Pollan who says, “We’re subsidizing the least healthy calories in the supermarket — high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soy oil, and we’re doing very little for farmers trying to grow real food.”
I guess that means that all the corn and soybean farmers in this country are not growing real food. So why should anyone be concerned that ethanol production is using food for fuel then?
Then Mr. Kristof complains that he gets $588 a year for “not growing crops on timberland I own in Oregon.” He gallantly points out that he forwards that money to charity. More than likely that money comes from some conservation program that is designed to help preserve our natural resources. Again, he seems to think this is a bad thing.
There were some 250 comments on this article in one day before they closed the comments. Sadly, too many of those commenting seemed to agree with his contention that the government, through USDA, supports “factory farms” rather than small family operations and rural towns. He wants to see a “Department of Food” to give “primacy to America’s 300 million eaters.”
What he apparently doesn’t realize is that because there are less farmers they need to produce more and more food to feed those “eaters.” Does he think we should have smaller farms and more of them? Would he like to have his own sustainable, organic farm in New York City to produce his own food?
Despite our best efforts in agriculture, the disconnect remains. The well-fed population of the United States fails to see the connection between the healthy, safe and abundant food supply they enjoy and the hard working farmers who produce it.