At the recent Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference we attended Karen Lubbers’ keynote address.  Karen’s farm is Lubber’s Farm in Coopersville, MI.  One of the things she talked about is the value and integrity of “real” food.  A few of the key thoughts I noted are:

1) As a society, we seem to be desiring authenticity and connection.  In this time, food is the language that is being used.  In seeking authenticity and a connection to something basic and enduring in our food, we find relationships that satisfy that need at a deeper level as well.  I had observed this at farmer’s markets before–people come there seeking something better than “store bought” fare and become anticipated regulars who we miss seeing when the season ends.

2) Connectedness to food equals a connectedness to life.  Food is one of the basic needs of sustenance and is a meeting place for many things we do in life.  However, if everything is neatly provided for us in tidy packages that are guaranteed to be perfect, we learn a certain helplessness about how to live and lack connection with what food really is.  Karen pointed out that this happens with cows raised for dairy in confinement.  These cows have difficulty adjusting to a pasture dairy system because they have to go out and actually look for their food instead of having it on a concrete platter in front of them. 

3) An old saying: “Eat only what spoils, and eat it before it does.”

On the heels of those sage thoughts, we’ve had several pieces of information brought to our attention relating to genetically modified/engineered food.  It’s interesting that, while a growing share of the population is heading “back to the farm,” the food giants and “science” are making our food less and more less natural.  Ah, the carrots of power and money.  Food is not always about sustenance.  Karen brought out the point that a real farm is a living ecosystem.  Can such a thing be patented?  Monsanto already has in the form of  its Round-Up Ready corn, soybean, and canola.  Can life be controlled like that?  They are finding not, but will charge you if nature spreads itself into your field uninvited.  The following three articles provide interesting reading:

“The Organic Elite Surrender to Monsanto:  What Now?”

“South Carolina Scientist Works to Grow Meat in Lab”

GMO Cover-up Article[1]

Food for thought……

The next question is always, “So, what do I do with this information?” 

Here is our plan for this year’s response:

1) Learn how to save more seeds and plant savable seeds in our garden.

2) Continue to grow flavorful meats that people can trust and that stand above what can be engineered in a lab.

3) Continue growing heritage breeds of chickens that can forage well and will reproduce naturally.  (Many laying breeds of chickens have “broodiness,” or the desire to hatch eggs, bred out of them.) 

Your thoughts or ideas?