i really appreciate all the kind words i have
received over the last couple of months and i wanted
to make more time to share. but first i'd like to
shine a little light upon myself so as to try and be
more than an email address. the net is great, but it
does have some serious limitations to communication.
myself? i'm a practicing realist. that's why got out
of health care when the hmo's started to predominate.
had to do/saw things that should not be, and when i
realized i could not make that much change from
within, i took the first tentative steps towards a new
career and life for me and mine.
i just about ground myself into a fine powder trying
to deliver the best care i could in a people eating
environment. i guess you may say it was my first
lesson in sustainability.
> many, many other stories for another day, but please
> know i am not geared toward people over profit. many
> have told me that notion itself is not sustainable
> because it doesn't put "the bottom line" first,
> which in turn, dooms my efforts from inception. with
the proper priorities, perspective and management, we
can have economic success and people/societies as
> believe it or not, that's why i went back to school
> here at the u of moo; to try and make my way, to
> forge another new future from pieces of my past:
> medicine and agrarian/rural life.
> say what you may about "journalists," or
"journalism," i'm sure as heck am not going to waste
time here to defend the way information is gathered,
compiled and dessiminated in this country.
but the folks who helped me weather the perpetual
storms during my time in the school of journalism from
MU's college of agriculture's ag journalism program
are some of the finest humans i have ever had the
pleasure of working with, or learning from.
i thought i could take my knowledge
life/health/medicine/critical care science and
combine it with new skills like journalism, food and
economic sciences. this way, i told myself, i could do
what i always wanted to do: learn/know/write/share
something important/imperative with as many as would
i'm number eight of nine children; i was born to my
parents late in their lives. my sibs are scattered
here and yon, but myself and one of my sisters
agreed to comingle our efforts to aid our parents in
their waning years. mom died my first semester back to
school (full time) and dad died on the last day of
finals my last semester.
i've had my share of success and failure; i will
continue taking the inevitability of change and
incorporating the importance of people and the
planet to propagate a sustainable future for society
myself and my family. again, i share this not to toot
my own horn, but to shed some light on myself beyond
an email address.
please know the opinions expressed below are pure
"heart felt," FIRST and may precipitate head welts
IF shared with the wrong person, in the wrong way, on
the wrong day. that said, this turtle is gonna stick
his head far enough out of his shell to say this day:
anything that gets more of the food dollar back into
the hands of the grower while promoting healthy
societies and earth are priority with me.
but the realities of the market may often seem cold,
even "snidely whiplash" cruel to some. sustainable
change that we desire requires a commitment to first
understand a bit of how the market for food works and
then to integrate this knowledge for brainstorming and
many of you may delete this message right at this
point because you are not interested in the needs of
the consumer, i've gotten those responses too. one
even went so far to say the consumer does not have
anything to do with the changes for sustainable ag.
that's fine; it's your right and your digital time.
but i still assert this is a dynamic, rapidly
developing and emotionally charged environment and the
consumer is of first and foremost importance to
success in any market for anything. denying this is to
limit significantly the potential for positive and
there is no one single way to go about bringing life
back to the soil and justice in our societies and
economies. ANYTIME you hear ANYONE who says this is a
static situation, or they have all the answers is more
likely trying to sell you something, rather than share
something with you/yours for the healthy benefit of
please keep an open mind and watch your back; try to
think as much with your head as your heart and keep an
eye on your wallet. false prophets and snake oil
salespeople will always be with us. perception is key,
but slippery and wily. so are the messages of some who
claim they can lead beyond convention.
i'll never forget an econ professor who spoke to a
common misperception among farmers about "guys in
black hats" that control and manipulate the market
for their own gain with little regard for you, me or
by his own admission, and to this day, many portray
this man as one of these dastardly villans. i found
it really interesting, but not too surprising that
the rural sociology department came under extreme
pressure here in the late 80's, this same "villan"
was one of the first and most adamant supporters for
the program. the program survived and remains.
you see, even some of the most hardnose ag economists,
or ag journalists have hearts, minds and souls that
understand the importance of humanity, diversity,
balance and a healthy planet.
to me the forces of the market speak very clearly.
from what i have witnessed, lawyers, lobbyists,
governments, societies and other entities spend way
too much time, energy and money trying to change, or
redirect some of the messages.
we cannot legislate/dictate to human behavior.
i think IF we try to fundamentally change the way
people consume without first incorporating our
priorities and the messages from the market, we are
putting the cart before the horse. we must think of
the needs of the consumer first; we must focus upon
what we CAN do first, then we can work towards what we
could/want to do from there.
i think alternative markets are great. we participate
in local csa's and are regulars at the farmer's
market. i think there will always be a need for
adjustment, redirection, or reallocation. that's what
adaptation is. mother nature and the market reiterate
the importance of adaptability. if one does not adapt
to change and needs, then one will wither and likely
i do not think we should promote an approach to change
by saying, "don't do it the way you are doing it; do
it this/my way." there may be some success, in some
areas, but, in my opinion, it pales in comparison to
what could be IF the consumer with that food dollar in
their hand is first and foremost in our efforts to
achieve and sustain the change we want.
we cannot change the way humans want to live their
lives. i think there is a reason we are no longer a
nation of small farmers, it's because people want
other things from life. that's not to say they don't
want to support local farmers, or do not want to
support local agriculture.
but that's not going to change the way they shop at 6
p.m. on a wednesday night when they are tired and have
kids with soccer practice and homework to do. it is
that real and simple; people have to consume food and
they have to pay for it. they want the most from their
food dollars as they can get. their perception rules
personally, i think if we want to have a domestic
production system at all, soon we will have to put it
to a national vote.
one thing i have heard from hundreds of people not of
agriculture and may who are, no more tax money to
support a production system that produces crop/grain
to dump on the ground and rot. many of them say they
want no tax monies for agriculture period. if the
producers cannot make it in the market, then they need
to do something else.
it's not too hard to see their point when they are
living with the realities of an increasingly demanding
work environment, early retirement, down sizing, or
working more jobs at less pay and no benefits so the
few ham-fisted money mongers can become more so.
i don't think we will have a lot of success trying to
get people to cook more than they are able to now.
again, in the ideal, it sounds great. but as my own
sisters have pointed out ... "who's going to take up
the slack; provide the income to afford the time to do
i'm the cook in our home; i love it. but short of a
calamity, natural disaster, or divine intervention,
we will move more and more towards a society that
places its priorities elsewhere. people just do not
have the time/energy to do so. telling them they need
to rethink/allocate their energies runs a high risk of
reducing the amount of sustainable success that could
be IF we make the consumer and their needs,
we need to take chances and we will make some
mistakes. sure, we'll break some eggs and spill some
milk. but the "bottom line" is we have to get our
priorities straight. when we have success in the
market and are a cohesive and credible force of our
own making, the rest of our goals for making the
lasting change we want for our lives/societies and
time is short and the charge is large.
i promise each one of you that i will keep trying to
promote the issues of sustainable ag in my daily life.
and i'll make the time to check in with all who want
to share and respond. i am working to make a
sustainable place for me/mine in this evolution.
as i'm sure many of you already know, it's a very
dichotomous environment in the ag employment market. i
was headed for a fast-track job with farm journal when
dad died. i had to delay graduation and in the process
of grieving my loss, it became more and more clear to
me that i belonged some where doing the work that i
believed in, not just the work that paid the best with
the most "byline significance."
i thought i had "matured" enough to make more money my
priority. i should have known/listened to my heart, as
well as my head to gear my energy to the things that
matter the most to me. for whatever it's worth, the
only thing that will matter when we move from this
life to the next, is what we do TO and FOR each other.
thank you again for all the kind posts; it truly does
not get any better than that.
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