Speak Up: Let’s contribute to the conversation
I’ll admit up front that my conservative politics lead me to be less than sympathetic to any movement that co-opts the term “Occupy.” This one in particular, however, begs my attention and prompts me to share a few comments and observations.
On February 27, a group of “Food Justice Advocates,” including Marion Nestle, Willie Nelson and Woody Harrelson plan to stage Occupy Our Food Supply in order to “End corporate exploitation of our food systems.”
Their letter of support, signed by a number of foodie organizations states:
Together, we stand in support of the Global Day of Action to Occupy our Food Supply.
Now more than ever, it’s critical to weed corporate control out of our food, and seed a more just, localized and sustainable food system. Occupy our Food Supply aims to inspire people around the world to both create local solutions and resist the corporatization of food.
Together, we will reclaim our food system, and through food protect our health, our environment, and our communities.
Please note, many of the personalities behind this also just happen to have a book they’re selling that decries and defames “factory farms,” “Frankenfoods” and “industrial agriculture.” As for Ol’ Willie and actor Woody Harrelson, I’m guessing it’s a desperate grasp for relevance to breathe some life into their fading careers, but perhaps that’s just the skeptic in me. In any case, I don’t see many of the featured participants as having dirt on their hands and manure on their boots.
The message is clear: Big Ag is Bad! That message will be transmitted in a number of ways and you can bet the national media will pick it up and fan the flames of farmer bashing. By the way, why don’t we try and find out just what they mean by “corporate exploitation of our food supply.” Sounds really scary, but I’m thinking it’s a pretty empty message when you really expose it to the light.
So what does the agriculture community do? Just what we’ve been doing. We just need to pick up the pace a little.
Social media presence is a must, as is media outreach. Call your local paper, television station or radio news outlet and suggest to them it might be a good time to talk to a real farmer about real food issues. As a suggestion, what if we use #RealFoodFacts for a hashtag?
We have to speak up – every day, not just February 27. When we raise our voices, it doesn’t need to be an angry shout, it needs to be a rational representation of who we are and what we do. “I’m a farmer – I grow your food.”