Today, I had enough.
A zumba instructor from my home town has been posting what I’ll call CRAP about “factory farming” and the “need to buy local” because “it’s the only way to get healthy, safe food” and similar sentiments. I’ve seen her post it many times. She does not live on a farm. She does not have a degree in nutrition. She is a zumba instructor – a pretty good instructor, but someone with little to no knowledge of our food system using scare tactics and videos to make her zumba followers believe she knows what she’s talking about, and they can only get safe, healthy food from local farmers.
As the charmed farmer’s wife, I’ve got something to say: Not Every Single American Can Buy Local For One Reason Or Another!
I buy local because I can. I buy local because I like the idea of keeping my money in the local economy. Do I buy bananas? You bet I do! They go right into my morning smoothie! I don’t live in the tropics, and I rely on some boat to get bananas to America, and some train and/or truck to get those bananas to a wholesaler or grocer so I can get them half green each weekend so they’re ready for Monday.
Want to buy only local? SUPER! Do it!
Want to buy what you want? SUPER! Do it!
Don’t use your position or what have you to make others feel guilty/bad/insufficient for not purchasing like you do. (For comparison, take the stay-at-home mom situation: Do we really need to make other moms feel bad as they try to make the best decision for their family? Really? Aren’t we all trying to do the best we can? I mean, come on, now!)
So here’s my open letter to the ignorant facebook sharer. To the person who blah blah blahs about “factory farming” and “safe, healthy food.”
As a farmer, married to a 9th generation farmer, right here in Pennsylvania, I want you to know your ignorance and lack of knowledge of our food system is one thing, but passing along misinformation in the form of links and YouTube videos is too much to bare. In an effort to not publicly humiliate you, I’m messaging you this, and I’ll be blocking you, because your spread of hate for the farming community makes me sick and angry.
Do you know why it’s important to buy local? It is so because only 2% of our US population is now connected to agriculture. Because of every dollar you spend in the grocery store or big box store, only 16 cents goes to the farmer. Because buying local keeps money in the local economy.
This factory farming you speak of: have you ever visited one? Have you ever been to a packing plant? I have. Many times. And unless you understand it, you shouldn’t preach badly of them via facebook or any other social media for that matter.
I want you to know that I grew up in Latrobe, and raised a few hogs. I want you to know I’m now a proud farmer’s wife. And I want you to know I’m proud to be a part of the safest food system in the world, right here in the United States.
I want you to know my family works hard every day to produce affordable food for families like yours. We currently have 54 head of cattle on our 260 acre crop farm. My husband is the 9th generation to be a steward of this same land. I’d call that sustainable, wouldn’t you?
I want you to know while we do sell our steers directly to customers, some of our steers go to auction. From there, they go to large packing plants similar to those pictured in the video you posted. Can you tell me what makes the steers I produce and sell directly to customers different from that which goes to packing houses? I’ll tell you – one is on a much larger scale and so much more highly regulated you wouldn’t believe it! Food quality and sanitation are absolutely high priorities, even and especially in large scale operations.
I encourage you to go to [a fair] this week where I grew up in the barns – where I was last night while I was home visiting. I encourage you to talk to those dairy farmers who send their milk to a cooperative where it is packaged and sold so families like yours can buy it in a grocery store – a much more convenient location to purchase food because in our high-paced society, families don’t go from farm to farm for their milk, meat, eggs, and produce.
I want you to know you’re not alone. There are others who don’t understand their food system. Instead of pressing “share” about things you don’t know or understand, I encourage you to go to the source you preach to purchase from. Ask them how they market their product. I bet you’ll be surprised how many of them market on a large scale as pictured in your video.
I hope you stick to what you know and what you excel at, [in this case, Zumba,] and let hard working, dedicated farmers continue to do what they do. As you know, there are less than stellar [instructors] who sometimes make a bad name for [fitness instructors]. You know, the ones who aren’t concerned about their clients’ safety and are there to make money. You’ll find those in farming, too, but they are few and far between. Keep that in mind the next time you go to click “share.”
Just some food for thought.
Thank you for your sincere consideration.