I'd like to take this on a little different turn. This paragraph written by
Ronald Nigh stuck out to me:
"The American consumer is sensible enough to know that industrialized
agriculture has produced quantity and sacrificed quality. Anyone who
thinks the average American diet based on processed food, fast food and the
like is remotely "healthy" just because modern food science refuses to
really address the issues is involved in a colossal self-delusion."
I believe that most consumers (eaters) don't know where their food comes
from. They are totally ignorant to the differences of how and where food is
produced. To site an example:
I had been helping a certified organic dairy producer in the state. She was
doing some taste testing of their milk in a local MO grocery store chain.
The tv station came by to do an interview with her. While this was
occurring, folks were still passing her milk tasting station. A middle aged
woman and her father stopped. They read the sign "certified organic milk"
"produced locally on our farm". Their conversation went something like this
- organic milk. what's that. i don't know. guess it means it came
straight from the cow - They tasted it, looked at the price and went about
their business of shopping.
Also, terms are so confusing nowadays - organic, naturally grown, pesticide
free plus tons more of eco-labeling terms. Not to mention that where the
term organic is located on the packaging of a product tells a consumer just
how much of the product is truly organic. I didn't even know about this one
until just recently and I like to think of myself as educated. Talk about
Try this sometime if you really want to know how much the consumer knows
about their food and how it's produced. Stand next to the applesauce in
your local grocery store. Pick up a Mussellman's "naturally grown"
applesauce and then ask those standing next to you looking at the
applesauces to tell you what the label means. Bet if you do that for an
hour, you'd get just about as many differing answers as you do people you
I believe education of the consumer is just as important, if not perhaps
more important then other factors, to the goal of producing our food in a
sustainable and local fashion. Afterall, without the consumer to purchase
what we produce then why produce it?
Urban dwellers can't relate to agriculture anymore. They are to distant
from it. But they do relate to food. Perhaps we need to take a little bit
of a different tactic with agriculture. Instead of always using the term
agriculture, why not start substituting the term food. Food (and fiber) is
the connection between rural and urban.
On a lighter note, my 4 year old son was helping me make dinner the other
night. I handed him the carton of eggs and then turned to grab something
else we needed. I heard him open the carton and say, "mom, look, chocolate
eggs!" I spun around so fast to tell him he knew better than that but when
I did, I caught his eyes dancing and his facing smiling. He knew he had
pulled one over on mom!
I believe we need to educate the consumer (eater) and most importantly, our
young. Mary, do you have anything you'd like to add?
Debi Kelly, Project Manager
Missouri Alternatives Center
University of Missouri
531 Clark Hall, Columbia, MO 65211
573-882-1905, 800-433-3704 (MO only)
"There's no need to sustain the farm if there's no family to be
sustained upon it."
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