Posted by: J Nyman | March 2, 2008

A quick glimps at farming in Ontario

This short video will give beleaguered conventional farmers a reason to feel good.

It should also give some pro-organic folks pause from the perspective of ‘the ideal’ versus the current reality. Because, although one person, a hoe and an ‘organic’ claim might be ideal, the current reality – as shown in this clip – is able to feed our whole population and, to my mind, shouldn’t be ‘thrown out with the bathwater’.

I’m not saying practices shouldn’t be improved at the fastest rate possible. What I am saying is that we should not demonize those who are feeding the vast majority of the population today. Conventional farms are, by and large, run by real people who are surrounded by real life. Things don’t change drastically overnight.

Let me use an example from the city:

Say Joe drives a large-ish vehicle because his job requires that he bring some equipment with him. He, by financial necessity, lives in a neighbourhood that is a long way from his work. This job pays for his family to live and is reasonably secure.

How easy would it be for him to stop driving that car?

See, Joe is a smart and informed man. He knows that his car is on the wrong end of the efficiency scale and he knows that he is the solitary occupant most of the time. Just because he is aware that his practices don’t fit the ideal doesn’t mean improving them is an easy thing to do.

I recently spent some time at the Canadian Young Farmer’s Forum in Ottawa with a bright group of my farming peers and, I can tell you, many of them are all too aware of the things they would change.

There are those who feel powerless to change anything and others have it in their plans to make as many changes as possible. But none of them is able to toss the whole shooting match – the current reality – in favour of the ideal. In case the reader is not aware, farming doesn’t allow one to be independantly wealthy. (My apologies for my blatant sarcasm).

For those that are ready to judge farmers for not whole heartedly jumping on the organic bandwagon, I ask you:

How long was it from the time you realized you weren’t the perfect environmental citizen until you moved or changed your job, sold your car and bought a bicycle?

You do ride a bicycle, don’t you?

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