Your local farmer, produce suppliers, and mom and pop stores need you more than ever, and chances are your going to need them!
A call to end “Big Box” mentality in America!
Written by: Alan Reed Bishop of Bishop's Homegrown and Hip-Gnosis seed development.
February 28, 2008
Hey America, it’s time to wake up! Your dollar value is dropping, your waists are expanding and you’re a generally unhappy bunch of folks from what I have seen. And that my friend is from the mouth of an American himself. Alan Reed Bishop.
I’m not here to berate anyone, surely what I’m about to say even applies to myself and I’ve got a lot to learn so that I too don’t sound like a hypocrite. What I’m here to say is something that probably won’t set so well with many blue collard American folks, but it is the truth. A hard truth that if not faced will bare the consequences of an even more uncertain future.
What I’m here to ask, is just exactly how long will it take the fact that we are destroying our own culture, food supply, and future by shopping at the corporate owned big box stores, to set in? You may not realize it, but every time you drive to your local Wal-Mart, Meijers, K-mart, Home Depot or whatever and drop one of those dirty dollars on the counter, you are further eroding the very culture and substance of the American way of life. How many news reports about poisonous toys and unsafe food do you have to hear before you get it? It seems so obvious. Many of you may think that loosing the mom and pop owned five and dimes is of little consequence to your bread and butter, but look what happened to their bread and butter when you took your dollar elsewhere, and guess what, other consumers suffer due to your bad decisions as well, being forced to pay higher prices for lower quality products and food. A damn shame if I do say so myself.
In my profession I’ve seen it time and again. The local produce business can be quite fickle at times, particularly when it comes to un-informed customers. Now, don’t get me wrong, people will have to eat regardless, and I will be able to stay in this business on that fact alone, however the hurt is really being put on the local farmers and co-ops by the Wall-Marts and Jay-C-Food stores of the world and their supposedly “organic” produce, and perhaps more importantly, you the consumer are feeling the burn as well. Prices on organic food keep on sky-rocketing while quality keeps sinking. Perhaps you believe that the much coveted “organic” label actually means something to the big companies who use different names to market “organic“ versions of their products? If so, you‘d be dead wrong. You see, the USDA and the Corporations of the world don‘t care about what the word “organic“ means as long as it equals money in the pocket. That‘s why there are 35 non-organic substances allowed in the production of USDA “Certified Organic“ food production. Thirty five substances which may or may not be any better for you than conventional products. Thirty Five substances which may or may not have been outlawed in other countries around the world due to their links with rates of cancer and environmental damage. Thirty five substances that mono-culture farms half the world away and in your own backyards would rather you never know about.
I’m not here to bash “Organic farming” at all, as a matter of fact I consider myself to be an Organic farmer in the truest sense of the word. In that my produce and products are produced and protected using only the most natural of methods and minus gas to local venues and diesel for my tractor, my carbon foot print on this farm is pretty small. The USDA, big box stores, and corporate agriculture however don’t see “Organic” in this way, as a matter of fact their measure of the word “Organic” would be much easier summed up in monetarily inspired numbers. As anybody knows, self sustainable, nutritious, and organic food is right up my alley and I try my hardest everyday of my life to further improve my systems of delivery, production, and self sustainability in an attempt to treat the earth and it’s inhabitants with the utmost respect and dignity while also providing a premium product LOCALLY, and therein lies the problem.
You see, when you walk into Wall-Mart and see those big blue organic labels, your looking at a lie. Your looking at a money grubbing scheme to both take your money for a sub-par product, run local farmers out of business, and further erode the meaning of the “organic” label, while at the same time making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside because you just bought something “organic”. So, what’s the problem with that organic food? Well there are a lot of problems with it. Much of that “organic” food comes from other counties around the world, particularly third world countries where “organic” standards are much less observed and regulated. Another problem is that there are several organically approved, yet none the less dangerous chemicals that are allowed to pass as suitable for “organic” production systems and in the preparation and processing of those foods, mostly because the USDA Organic law is catered to large mono-culture farms. And last but not least, most of the “organic” food that your buying on those nasty, dollar inflated Wall-Mart shelves that is actually grown in the USA is grown by large corporate farms, owned by multi-million dollar companies that you already know well by their more common brand names, in systems that would make a septic sludge pond look organic, by folks who have little to no respect for local farmers and business and the local economy,environmental concerns and health of the consumer, and to boot the food is then shipped hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles away to those big ugly boxes, effectively leaving a carbon foot print so large it should immediately affect the value of that food as “organic” to any clearly thinking human being. And yet many people continue to shop in these huge emporiums of low-grad crap.
Do you know how many times that market farmers hear the phrase, “well, I’ll go to town and buy that at Wall-Mart cheaper.” ? Does that even make sense to anyone? You’d rather eat poisonous food from 1,000 miles away than to pay an extra $0.25 for quality, local products that you know support the local economy and that you can trust? Not to mention the fact that you are only lowering the value of the dollar and putting wealth and power in the hands of countries which are not exactly on friendly terms with us? I mean to me it doesn't make any sense, you would rather buy food from someone you don't know from a thousand miles away than to actually talk to and see the face of the very person who grew the food? This country is a long strange trip indeed!
I can understand now why so many little mom and pop stores have shut down. People stop supporting them and drive to town, paying more for gas, inflating the economy of the rich corporate stockholders and countries with horrible track records like China, while depleting our own country of natural resources, a healthy lifestyle, community, and yes even culture. For as much as a mom and pop store, a farmers market, or a local feed mill is a source for material goods it is also a source of knowledge and local and regionalized culture. Not only that, but I get a distinct impression that the materialism of this country drives one even more so to go out and buy the latest fashions and gas guzzling vehicles, so one can be trendy and “fit in” while at the same time pretending to “know“ and “care“ about global warming, politics, and the economy. Well America you go ahead and keep drowning our economy, keep pumping yourself full of dangerous chemicals, keep saying that the big box stores are good for us, keep thinking that you need all that crap that you waste your money on, keep playing into the game, keep destroying your history and culture, just keep right on conforming. Soon we can just go ahead and close down all the mom and pop stores, replace everything with “organic” Mc. Donald’s and Taco Bells, put a big Wall-Mart on every street corner and change the name of the United States of America to The Amalgamated states of Conformity. Me, well, I’m going to do the best I can to inform myself and those around me to make the right decisions while meanwhile continuing the god given work that I am doing and not pretending to be anything I am not. I’ll be your valuable market farmer, the source for your healthy food and lifestyle, your alternative to “New America”, I’ll just keep right on being the plant breeding, worm ranching, truly organic, seed saving, hill-Billy, ridge running farmer that I have been, and when the shit hit’s the fan, I’ll be sure to plant a little more for the extra needy and pray that those of you that have caused this can take the crash course in survivalism to protect yourselves and your families from the terrorism that you have inflicted on your own country.
So, here is my question, who are you going to turn to when things take the deep downturn we are headed towards? Is it going to be the mom and pop stores you put out of business? The farmer that couldn’t afford the tools he needed to get the job done?
Really, we have no one to blame for our health, our economy, our loss of morals and our horrible leaders other than ourselves. We have lost sight of what made this country great. Local culture and ideas. Self sustainable family owned business that care as much about the community as they do the money that they make. Independent people with independent ideas who stand up for what they believe in! When the last family farm falls, will you be there to say, this is our fault?
P.S. If you don’t believe that this country is in a sad state then take the time to rationalize that instead of working on national issues, congress is currently more interested in holding hearings regarding steroids in sports. You tell me, where are the priorities?