His Name’s Not Even On It

We are officially 1/4 of our way done with our fellowship experience! It is crazy how fast two weeks have gone by! This week we had the privilege of visiting Rettland Farm, a small, local farm dedicated to raising both pork and poultry in a humane and environmentally friendly way. It was crazy to see the stark difference between small scale meat production and the large scale turkey processing production we had witnessed last week. Animals at Rettland Farm have the space to roam, and follow their natural instincts, eating what they were designed to eat. The animals, although destined for human consumption were treated with consideration; the land and environment, although owned or utilized to make a profit, were cared for through the utilization of rain water and habitat rotation. There was also a stark difference between them and their neighbors, separated only by a muddy path. Across the path from Rettland farm, were acres upon acres of soy. Grown by farmers who were considering profit rather than soil health, as made obvious by their annual growing of harsh for soil soy without rotation with a gentler corn. The soy farmer was growing GMO crops and dousing them with pesticides, without much consideration for the environment or the on-looking pigs.

alSo what makes the soy farmer different from the owners of Rettland Farm? I think a lot of it has to do with accountability. With today’s mass food system, many who produce food must go through larger corporations, producers, or third parties to get their food into supermarkets and onto tables. This leads to a lack of responsibility for farmers. Beau, the owner of Rettland Farm, expressed distaste with this aspect of the modern food market. To keep their company responsible, Rettland Farm controls their meat from hatchling or newborn piglet to packaged meat with their name attached. This definitely isn’t the only motivator behind their positive practices, however, it does hold them accountable. The soy grower, however, will sell to a larger corporation that will move the seed to farmers trying to raise fat animals fast. No consumer will ever see his farm’s name on a package of chicken fingers, as the food supplier for the chickens. Food that as much as we hate to believe it becomes the building blocks of each chicken, which we will consume therefore becoming our building blocks as well. I personally, don’t want to be composed of genetically modified, pesticide doused, soy molecules, but I can’t change our food system alone.

So, I want to pose a question to all of you, how can we as consumers demand that all food producers not only of meat, but also of crops, be held accountable for what they produce? What can we do, as the buyers and eaters of food, to support practices of companies like Rettland Farm, and not practices like their neighbors or other mass food producers? I think it starts by demanding information on where our food comes from, how it is grown and processed, and what goes into it. If producers had to delineate on their packages what their meat ate every day of their lives and the impact of that on human health, would they be feeding them genetically modified corn and soy or chicken manure? I would hope not. If growers of vegetables were to list every herbicide and pesticide sprayed on their crops and how that directly affects human health, would they continue spraying round up? How will change happen? I’m not sure. But I do know its time we stand up and demand that those feeding the world take some responsibility for their actions.

Alyce Norcross ’17