Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Munchable Soapbox: Celebrating the Farmer!

Labor Day is fast approaching, and often this means barbecues and picnics abound. And whether you are enjoying a (veggie) burger on the grill or a succotash made from the summer's corn, bean, and pepper abundance, we all can trace the good eats back to a common denominator. Yes, we can all thank the farmer. Of course, who could say it better than the ever so eloquent Mark Bittman?

In an op-ed in the New York Times last week, Bittman extols the farmer. He argues that even the best chef is only as good as the ingredients with which he or she cooks. That means the time, skill, and knowledge that goes into raising the best chickens, the plumpest and juiciest tomatoes, and the sweetest corn, is paramount. Why now? Well, the end of summer is a period of particular surplus, where the combination of sun and rain often yield a conspicuous quantity, even for the supermarket shopper, of the produce found at the height of summer.

But more importantly, the article makes the point that we must recognize the contributions of the farmer. Bittman's action items hold special relevance in a year when the Farm Bill is up for debate - improve wages and employment for farm workers (among others), continue to support nutrition assistance programs (AKA food stamps), and nix the subsidies for corn and soybeans. 
"In short, we need more real farmers, not businessmen riding on half-million-dollar combines...we need real farmers who grow real food, and the will to reform a broken food system. And for that, we need not only to celebrate farmers, but also to advocate for them."
Thank you for that reminder. I'll stick to my real farmer.

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