>Hal Hamilton wrote:
>> Avery doesn't just get into Readers Digest, he also helps shape the
>> curriculum for Ag in the Classroom.
And Ann replied:
>...Avery ... is a master at using such fora to achieve his own ends
>and has vastly deeper pockets than we do.
A little ingenuity and a lot of collaboration could go a long way.
>The issues are not objectively framed or discussed, making it
>impossible to "win" on any logical or clear-headed or factual basis -
>even by someone has articulate and knowledgeable as Misha.
>It is an unwinnable debate, if "winning" is actually the goal.
How pessimistic. And quitters never prosper.
In this case, an Avery would be invited to participate in a scenario
he doesn't control, where he doesn't deal the hand. In fact, he has
no patent on the tactic and while the goals are not the same as his,
"winning" (over public opinion) certainly is part of what it takes.
Therefore, the event will be planned in an advantageous way and the
invitation made publically. Then, he will either walk into to it or
he won't. But as I said in an earlier post, both his ego and his
public image would make it hard for him to refuse, without losing
face, and credence (market share, rating points). Any refusal on his
part could be widely publicized.
Misha is articulate and knowledgeable, creative and poetic, a hard
worker and a born communicator; but Jeff Ishee proposed a TEAM event
(I'm referring to the origin of this thread, not recommending that his
radio talk show be the forum). Therefore - along with Misha, a strong
public policy person, a strong technical and theoretical field
consultant person, a strong market person, a strong statistics-
research person and and a strong production farmer person would round
it out. A public interest organizer and communicator person could
also contribute in a positive way, if willing to well found his
statements. (I named names in the first draft of this, but then took
them off - for now).
There is no way an event like that described could go wrong,
regardless of the percentage of viewers (it's got to be on prime time,
major channel TV - even PBS is a major channel, and there are
symposiums and conferences on some of the intellectual cable
channels). The idea is to light the fire, fan the controversy,
get the issue out into the open and onto the public agenda. There
will be a lot of follow up, and the participants will receive a LOT
of invitations from the talk show hosts for further airing of the
>... if we withdraw from exploring the possibility of a direct
>confrontation/debate/dialogue/whatever with people like Avery -
>because of the reasoning outlined above -
Wrong reasoning. There's no reason to withdraw.
>how can we best address the issue of what goes into Readers Digest
>... and ... into school curricula? I am still unconvinced that
>public debates are an effective approach, but then, what is?
Nothing is, if you don't do it. The public debates, the lobbying, the
advertising, the grass roots mass movements; they are all part of what
it takes to get the issue out there and attracting interest, support
and participation. Of course you've got to have a worthy and coherent
cause. But too many good artists were not so good at promoting their
work and didn't attract need support - it takes both skills. And
there are a lot of people involved in this issue.
In SPITE of the unfavorable public policies instituted that favor
large corporations (and this goes back a LONG way in the U.S.), the
alternative agriculture industry keeps growing at a pace far above
that of the conventional one. The only real danger is that is be
co-opted, and this won't happen. (Not that the effort isn't being
made to do that, though). The table DOES need to be leveled, as the
health and environmental consequences are being foisted onto an
unsuspecting and innocent public, while the perpetrators are
>Conventional ag has lobbied quite effectively to introduce their
>position, values, and practices into elementary school and up, at
>least in Canada and I would expect here as well. My son would bring
>home coupons for subsidized milk, fridge magnets, pencils, etc. and
>brochures - all courtesy of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. There is
>an entire, institutional program for 5th or 6th grade kids to go "to
>the country" and learn about (conventional) agriculture in Ontario -
>crafted with the active involvement of mainstream ag organizations.
This and more can and should be repeated within the sustainable ag
movement. Surely, it's already being done, on some scale. (Remember
that I'm mostly out of the U.S.). If not, it's an abdication, a loss
by forfeit. There's no doubt that both the industry and public
consciousness have evolved to the point that it's either happening or
about to happen, waiting for the right people to do it.
WF, WO, UF, ToL, AO - the list of big organic food wholesalers and
retail distributors is already impressive. Add in the hundreds of
thousands that responded to the OFPA Organic Rules issues, and it's
clear that the power is already there. (Dolphin free tuna would never
have happened if it weren't for the grass roots mass movement that
forced even the big canneries to jump on the wagon). The potential for
funding the above is out there. Even all the big chains carry organic
lines or have an organic section.
>I don't think that this is a bad idea, exposing urban kids to farm
>realities, but it is certainly one-sided - and we have been left out.
Don't wait for an invitation. The opportunity is there.
>Is there scope for adding our contribution to such programs?
Do birds sing?
>Should a separate initiative be undertaken? Should we be making and
>providing videos, interactive CD games, booklets, farm tours, or what
>- to schools regarding organic, ecological and/or sustainable farming?
Not if organic, ecological and/or sustainable farming can't compete.
But that isn't the case.
>Other ideas? Ann
Just one: Why wait?
(Center for Rural and Community Development)
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