I originally posted this article on my personal food blog, but wanted to share it here for anyone that is interested.
I have enjoyed listening to country music since the days of eight track tapes, a.m. radio's, and first generation Sony Walkman. Tammy Wynette, George Jones, and Tom T. Hall were regulars on Kansas City's 61 Country station that we listened to all day long whether in the car, in the workshop, or inside the house. We didn't get very good reception on television and for several years didn't even own a working television, so we listened to lots and lots of radio.
Willie Nelson was never a true favorite of mine as a kid and even less so as an adult, but I do recognize his achievements as a song writer, performance artist, and celebrity personality. I don't really agree with his stance on recreational use of certain botanical products, but his recent guest editorial article published on The Huffington Post hits home.
Mr. Nelson was one of the first supporters of the Farm Aid movement in the 1980's and has launched his own brand of biodiesel, but I didn't realize he has become somewhat of a food activist as well...until today. His article on Arianna Huffington's popular political blog titled Occupy the Food System sheds light on a problem that has grown into a legitimate threat for the country. As he explains, with a concentration of the food supply among a handful of companies, it's now more important than ever that we begin to develop our own independent sources of food and that we support others involved in the effort. The organic famers, CSA proprietors, backyard gardeners, and small farmers deserve our support. It's a double edged sword of sorts.
While the monopolization and, some might even say, exploitation of the food supply has helped bring new products and choices to market for consumers, it is also bringing with it some negative side effects. I think there are benefits to be gained from genetically modified seeds, but I would like to see more disclosure in the market place. I would like to see retailers offer more choice to consumers that want to have the option to purchase non GMO foods too. I'd like to see the commericial seed companies ability to dominate certain food crops like soy beans and corn reduced. I'm not convinced that allowing them to patent a food is a good idea. I also think it's unfair that organic farmers farming their land and minding their own business are threatened by GMO seeds and crops that the wind and birds transport into their fields and affecting the independent organic farmer's ability to compete fairly.
Thanks to Willie Nelson for using his notoriety to bring this discussion toward the forefront of the media. I hope he continues discussing this issue in the media. I urge you to forward this article and others like it that you run across to your friends and family to encourage them to consider these issues and make their own decisions about the foods they purchase and whether they want to begin growing a portion of the food they are eating.
I don't think we need to eliminate agri-businesses or corporate farming, but I think consumers deserve more input into the process and more choices in how they spend their hard earned money at retailers.