Food is not always something that you put in your mouth and eat!

Black Listed

A recent Meating Place post called Animal AG Watch and entitled “Prepare for increased activist activity in wake of Liberation Conference”,  by Hannah Thompson, put the meat industry and animal agriculture industry on high alert ahead of the Animal Liberation Conference held at Berkeley, CA May 23 – May 29, 2018.  Thompson, the communications director for the Animal Agriculture Alliance, tells readers that anyone with farms or [processing] plants in the Berkeley area to be on “high alert” and “prepare to be targeted”.

According to the vegan website Humane Decisions, “The 2018 Animal Liberation Conference, co-hosted by Direct Action Everywhere and The Save Movement, is planned to be the largest grassroots animal rights conference in U.S. history.”  Thompson says that “according to organizers, over 500 people are set to attend the event”.

From those descriptions it sounds like a war is about to take place.

First and foremost, and to set the record straight, from my point of view, veganism is a personal choice.  Anyone choosing and/or supporting the lifestyle shouldn’t be condemned for their personal choice.   Each to their own, I say!

Secondly, 500 people is not a gigantic representation, earth shattering, or something to go down in the annals of U.S. history.  It surely doesn’t warrant a national security alert.

It was a really busy day, when I first read Thompson’s post, I didn’t pay a lot of attention and put it down to the 2 sides taking swipes at one another.  Nothing unusual about that.  When I had some quiet time, I mulled it over in my mind and paid a revisit.  Looking at the writers past posts I quickly realized that the industry group, Animal Agriculture Alliance, had a “thing” about what it calls animal activist groups.

Digging further into this “thing” I came across what looks like a black list of organizations giving me the impression that a broadly painted picture encompassed several groups that I’m very familiar with. From experience I know them not to be enemies of the state, that being vegans with an agenda.

None of the groups that I know, some personally, warrant a national security alert for the industry or much less raising a “high alert” for farms and plants as a “target”.  One such group listed is Animal Welfare Approved (AWA).

AWA is about farm animal welfare promoting high welfare standards for farm animals.  There is nothing that says you can’t raise animals for food, you have to become a vegan, and oh by the way, you must target farms and plants.  Target them how, I’m not sure.

Actually, my farm became AWA certified when I transitioned from an industrial contract farm to an independently owned pasture raised egg farm.  I’ll admit that the standards set forth by AWA for raising farm animals is the most stringent in the country.  My transition took me from one end of the spectrum to the total opposite end of the spectrum and is exactly what I wanted to do.  It’s all about the welfare of the animals raised on a pasture-based system and effects on the environment and public health.  After an annual farm audit, AWA certifies farms adhering to its standards allowing the farm to use the AWA label on their products.

Another such example is Farm Animal Concerns Trust or FACT  that “promotes the safe and humane production of meat, milk, and eggs, and envisions that all food-producing animals will be raised in a healthy and humane manner so that everyone will have access to safe and humanely-produced food in communities across the country”.

Starting out I had wide open pastures.  I received a grant from FACT to build outdoor shelters and resting places for my hens as well as planting trees and bushes for a more natural outdoor living environment.  Doing this also gave the hens safety or hiding place should flying predators visit.  There was nothing in the grant agreement that said I had to target other farms or processing plants or become a vegan.

These are two examples of the many that I’m familiar with.

DEFEATING THE PURPOSE

What I’ve realized is that the Animal Agriculture Alliance has come up with a black list of enemies encompassing everyone who disagrees with the industrial agriculture model and its negative impacts.  No matter what the disagreement is!  Kinda like if you’re not one of us, you’re one of them.

Admittedly, there are some organizations, who in my opinion, cross way over the line in attempts to get their message across.  En masse actions of invading or taking over one’s private property such as farms and grocery stores or setting animals loose is defeating the purpose.  Others observing such actions don’t get the message they put it down to a bunch of radicals doing stupid things.

I suppose that the participating organizations don’t get the fact that farm animals roaming freely are put in danger from many different things out there in the big ole wide world.  Think of things such as predators, vehicles, or animals panicking.  Has any one of them ever witnessed a cattle stampede? I have and let me say that many cattle were horribly injured and had to be euthanized.  Is this the goal of such groups?  What message was conveyed?

In 2016 the Animal Agriculture Alliance came up with some maps supposedly connecting all of the enemy organizations with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in the center. The catalyst I suppose.  There are even names of people who I guess are the bad guys linked to organizations, which by the way are wrong. I had to laugh when I looked at the maps because personally I know that some of the linked organizations don’t even talk to one another let alone work together.  Whoever did the “research” on the bad guys wasn’t worth the money that the Animal Agriculture Alliance forked out.  I mean really, if your gonna do it, do it right!

All of this hoopla appears to be a reoccurring theme with the animal agriculture industry.  Everyone wants to end the production of animals for food is their paranoia.  They might be the only game in town when setting up shop to take advantage of poor rural America but they’re not the only game in town when in comes to raising farm animals for food.  Experience has shown me that there are much better ways to do it, despite industry black lists.

Black listing can be a dangerous path to walk.  False accusations discredit any message one might be attempting to convey.

Activist Web 2 (1)

Activist Web 2

MapActivist Web 2

A friend sent me a news article from Watt Ag Net over the weekend about Tyson Foods launching a contract grower’s Bill of Rights and I had to laugh, uproariously.  My first thought was that it’s very presumptuous of the chicken company to imply that American citizens Bill of Rights and its guarantees come from Tyson.   Wow, how much kinder can one get?

The bill of rights that Tyson is granting to the farmers the company contracts with to grow chickens is supposed to be an eight-point promise for its farmers.  Supposedly other initiatives are included which are “aimed at promoting a more transparent growing process and better communication” between the company and roughly 3,600 independent contract growers.

If you’ve noticed that I emboldened the word “independent” it’s for a reason.  Many don’t know that the farms that contract with companies, such as Tyson, don’t belong to the company, they belong to the individual holding the mortgage payments and they are NOT employees of the company.  That single fact invalidates any claim to granting a “bill of rights” to individual persons who just happen to have a contract to grow the company chickens.  The relationship between those people and the chicken company is for the purpose of raising company owned chickens to a marketable age. Period!

Changing the wording from “bill of rights” to “pledge” the company goes on to say that a full copy of the “pledge” is available on the Tyson website.

Graciously, Tyson is pledging the following:

  1. The right to a written contract
  2. The right to information detailing how much they are paid
  3. The right to discuss their contract with outside parties
  4. The right to a fixed-length contract that can only be terminated for cause
  5. The right for the poultry farmer to terminate the contract with Tyson Foods for any reason or no reason at all by giving a 90-day prior written notice for broilers and turkeys, and a 60-day written notice prior to scheduled removal of poultry from farmers housing for hens and pullets.
  6. The right to join an association of contract poultry farmers
  7. The right to poultry welfare standards and training on poultry welfare standards
  8. The right to tell Tyson first, or freely contact the company with concerns

Sorry to burst your bubble folks, but the so called “pledge” is a nothing burger.  Most of the above is anyone’s rights under the law and it’s not up to Tyson or any other company to decided that it will pledge these rights to the people it contracts with.

Number 4 is a tricky one and as I always say, it’s all in the words, folks!  Fixed length contracts have been around for a while and can be terminated for “cause”.  There’s the word that makes it the company’s decision, anytime.  It’s already been decided by the courts that for a contract grower to show harm (wrongful termination of contract, etc.) that person must show overall harm to the entire industry.  Secondly, a fixed-length contract is not a guarantee of receiving chickens to raise from the company.

Number 5 should say that the grower can terminate the contract only for cause.  Just like the company clause for contract termination.  Instead there are a number of requirements for the contact grower to terminate the contract for the reason of allowing the company to make advanced preparations to place their chickens elsewhere.

The right to join an association of contract poultry farmers, number 6, is the one that I found to be so funny.  For years contract growers have claimed retaliation by chicken companies for participating in “grower associations”.  Some have reported threats made by company personnel for even thinking about joining grower associations.  Of course, chicken companies have vehemently denied retaliatory actions, but I have to wonder if this new pledge by Tyson is saying that they will NOW allow contract growers to join grower associations and no longer retaliate.  For those of you not familiar how this subject works, bluntly said, historically contract growers have been bullied, threatened (sometimes not so nicely), intimidated, and had contracts terminated for being a member of any unapproved by the company, grower association.  Especially if you’re a vocal member.  It’s really, really, REALLY, benevolent of Tyson to say it’s okay for contract growers to join any association they want to.  Under the U.S. Bill of Rights, the First Amendment gives people the right to peaceably assemble, sorry Tyson,  it’s the law!

Poultry welfare standards are a CYA by the company.  In order for the company to be exonerated from any allegations of animal abuse they must say that they have a poultry welfare policy.  This statement in the company pledge gives Tyson an out for any wrongdoing.  The company can now claim that it’s the contract grower at fault because the company has a pledge of providing welfare standards and training.  Most chicken companies already do this.

Number 8 is the killer of it all.  The right to tell Tyson first, or freely contact the company with concerns.

There go those words again, folks!  Carefully read the clause again.  It means that if you have any concerns with company behavior, treatment, animal welfare, environmental and public health, or even if you have a tooth ache, etc., you tell the company first.  Don’t call USDA Packers and Stockyards Administration for violations of the law, don‘t tell the press, don’t allow any camera’s on the farm, don’t call any environmental, public health, or animal welfare organizations, and for lord’s sake don’t tell your dog.

If the company makes contract growers sign this pledge, or any document related to this pledge, that contract grower will be bound by it.  The pledge will be an addendum to the contract or called company policy.  If the contract grower violates any of the signed pledge it will be “cause” for contract termination.  However, it might be questionable as to whether this pledge or any related documents can be forcibly imposed upon a person.

Lastly, who in the hell does Tyson and its Einstein’s think that they are?  Telling people what their rights are and saying that the company will grant those rights.  Really?  Another ploy to rope people in so they will think that they are investing millions of dollars into chicken house developments so they can raise chickens for such a kindhearted chicken company.

Over the past couple of years, the chicken industry has attracted many new immigrants into the Delmarva Peninsula and encouraged the building of chicken warehouses on mega sized zero land operations.  Monetary “incentive bonuses” offered by companies to those caught up in the building frenzy are an added inducement.  The zero land operations are chicken warehouses, built from property line to property line, leaving no land unused to spread the exorbitant amount of waste that’s produced by theses facilities.

The industry expansion is so huge that state cost share programs are broke.  The cost share programs, funded by taxpayers, were supposed to clean up the industrial waste left behind by the industry and that is polluting the waters of the Chesapeake.  The programs were never designed to support manure disposal from the large expansion that has been allowed to occur thusly utilizing all of the funds long before all of the mega operations can tap into them.  It has gotten so bad that the Maryland Department of Environment is bypassing regulations and allowing the mega structures to be built without the normally required manure disposal plans as well as the dead chicken disposal requirements.  There are no taxpayer dollars left to fund adherence of the regulations before the chicken warehouses can be built.

The warehouses, one building being as large as 43,500 square feet in size housing as many as 49,500 chickens each flock, are not the norm that we are used to seeing on the peninsula.  Some of the operations contain up to 50 of these warehouses.  These are not farms they are part of the mass production assembly line in order to, as the industry claims, feed the world.  Unfortunately, the world only takes care of the end product, the highly processed cheap chicken meat, leaving all of the waste behind for good old American taxpayers to foot the bill for cleanup.  Not only do we fund the waste cleanup, we also fund the process of dead chicken disposal.

Powers that be in counties on the peninsula have wholeheartedly welcomed the expansion in spite of loud objections voiced by residents.  No consideration has been given to environmental and public health, and water and land, issues raised or to the plain ordinary fact that every U.S. citizen has the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

There are not very many happy citizens who have had these warehouses dropped into their communities denying them the right to simple enjoyment of their property.  Many cannot go outside of their homes without suffering the stench, ammonia emissions, dust, flies, and many other offensive and unhealthy by-products produced from these mega operations.

Recently it was brought to my attention that the long-time contract chicken farmers in our communities are starting to feel the heat from the industry expansion.  Demands of upgrades to existing chicken housing or building of new warehouses is the first step to driving these farmers out of business.  It’s standard operating procedure by industry to accommodate the new mega operations that are now online and quite frankly the long-time farms that have supported the industry for many years are no longer needed.  Get big or get out is the usual message.

Huge investments, including putting the entire homestead on the line, were made by the long-time farmers.  Many of them have been on the land for generations.  Existing contract chicken farmers will either have to go back to their local lending institution for funds that will increase existing mortgages enabling them to adhere to industry demands or they can opt out of the demands and lose the contract, and in turn lose the farm.  There is no recourse for promises made in the past by industry.  Not much of a choice for those who’ve already invested millions, if not billions, in the industry.  Not a very nice thank you for supporting the companies!

People in wealthy communities that have seen proposed plans for a next-door neighbor mega chicken operation stopped it in its tracks by offering a higher price for the land to be sold.  Ironically a neighbor in that same community is none other than the long-time leader of the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. (DPI), a local industry trade union.  I personally have seen and heard this very same fearless leader expound on the virtues of the industry expansion, convincing the powers that be to ignore the citizens objections.

What I don’t understand is why this person didn’t want a mega chicken warehouse community next door.  Especially since part of the expounding referred to a “good neighbor policy” written by the trade union. Humorously, or maybe not, the DPI “Good Neighbor Policy” is a waste of good paper.  It’s not enforceable.  The trade union has no business or influence in contracts made between chicken companies and independent contract farmers.  Unfortunately, our illustrious officials believed that the useless policy solved any concerns and was somehow an insurance of community happiness.

It remains to be seen where the disastrous consequences from the industry expansion will end.  Much ado has been made by the powers that be about dollars and cents generated.  Recently I heard one of our illustrious local congressional members say it all supports a “healthy business climate in Maryland”.  No mention was made about supporting the existing business climate or supporting public and environmental health for our communities.  I think that these types of comments pretty well sum up the fact that chickens and dollars are much more important than people.

In a recent community meeting, I was asked if I’m an activist or an advocate.  My immediate answer was that I’m an advocate.  Afterwards I pondered my answer because the word activist has always been less than desirable to me.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve often been called an activist and it was a description used to dismiss my work as being “radical”.  I believe the word was used in the context as being an insult and it invoked a picture of being a radical or militant person.

I think that most of us can agree that radical or militant behavior is less than desirable and is dismissed by many, putting the actions down to someone who is fanatical.  Radical or militant is often associated with violence an extreme and undesirable direction to follow.  I certainly don’t condone it and I believe that violence begets violence.

Over the past couple of years, a huge building binge of chicken warehouses by the poultry industry on the Delmarva Peninsula has invoked division within our communities.  This is what my conversation was about when it came down to the question of advocate or activist.  My involvement in the issues, is supporting what the community interest are and their interest was decided by those affected.  This is what defines advocacy or activism.

On the other hand, there are a few activists involved in the issues.  I say activists because involvement came from an already decided campaign coming from somewhere other than the community and represented concerns other than decisions made within the community.  Forcing the will of others than those affected, never works, and is doomed from the beginning.

Representing non-profit organizations, activist have a defined campaign in mind long before they disperse into communities.  I say this because most often funding for campaigns come from private foundations or individuals.  Most of us within the non-profit world who have ever applied for funding know that goals are decided for a specified amount of time and are for specific objectives.  The funds applied for are granted before the issues are defined by communities.

Any who’ve worked on any of the issues surrounding the poultry industry know that there are several factions within the community and most often those different factions don’t agree because they have differing concerns.  Finding the common thread within the community and moving forward with agreed upon concerns are the goals of an advocate and it goes a long way toward developing common allies within the community.  An alliance, if you will!

Attempts to bring together differing factions are sorely hampered by activists because they bring a previously decided campaign to the table which is often different than anything within the individual communities.  This becomes a weapon for industry to use and its representatives can often be heard saying that these activists have a hidden agenda which brings about doubt and further divides communities.

According to the dictionary the following applies –

  • Advocate – one who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group
  • Advocacy – the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal
  • Activist – one who campaigns to bring about political or social change
  • Activism – the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change

It’s a fine line between the two words, definition wise.  However, understanding the difference between supporting or promoting (advocate) and a decided campaign (activist) easily defines the difference between the two.  One could say that actions speak louder than words!

Providing assistance to communities in efforts to address its issues within is essential to success.  Telling communities what it’s issues are and how it will address those issues won’t result in positive outcomes.

Undercover Video reveals a not so pretty picture

A recent undercover video taken by Direct Action Everywhere and released on the Now This facebook page shows the worst of the worst about hens involved in egg laying.

The video made me sick and I’ve a message for industrial agriculture – “clean up your act”.  The conditions of the hens and the environment they are living in are horrific.  It’s actors such as this that make it hard for those of us who don’t even think about animal husbandry being such as what is revealed in the video.  Animal agriculture is going to have to start standing up and condemning these types of practices and behaviors.  Don’t make excuses, own it, and fix it!

The hard truth and what makes the point of rubber stamping for humane practices an armed weapon for those opposed to animal agriculture is that this particular farm is “Certified Humane”, a project of Humane Farm Animal Care.  According to the organizations website, the program certifies products from farm animals that meet program standards related to practices required in the raising of the animals. Farms and ranches are monitored annually and may use the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® logo. Charges levied are to cover inspections and program costs which include promotional materials which help promote the products of the producers that are Certified Humane®.  Trust me folks, the fees applied aren’t cheap and certification predominately include large numbers of animals produced.

The organization has a “Humane Farm Animal Care Scientific Committee”, presumably who develop the standards that farmers and ranchers must meet for certification.  The Committee has some heavy hitters participating on it and I must wonder, what in the world they were thinking when they lent their names to something that doesn’t even come close to the definition of “humane practices”.

I can’t continue without describing the organization responsible for the undercover video, Direct Action Everywhere, is a network of animal rights activists claiming chapters in 160 cities in over 30 countries.  The organization, developed in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013.  It operates on the theory of “speciesism”.

Getting Educated about Speciesism

I’m not big on giving out labels or definitive categories so I had to do some research on this one.  The term delves deeply into the realm of philosophy.    According to Wikipedia speciesism is a prejudice similar to racism or sexism, in that the treatment of individuals is predicated on group membership and morally irrelevant physical differences.  Broadly speaking in the world of animal activism it means the exclusion of all nonhuman animals from the rights, freedoms, and protections afforded to humans.  June 5 is considered to be World Day Against Speciesism.  Who knew?

Without delving too deep into the topic of speciesism, it appears to me that it means every living thing is equal and has equal rights, no matter human or non-human.  I’m assuming if you don’t believe in this equality or you behave against the principal theory you are akin to a racist or sexist. I dunno, sounds good!

Of course agenda motivation is the driving force behind the video, why else would it be undercover?  Was it for the purpose of exposing Humane Farm Animal Care and name lending to a rubber stamping of the “Certified Humane” label?  Was it to expose the bad behavior of industrial agriculture?  Or was it a push toward the public to support veganism and animal rights? I think it’s all of the above.

On the other hand, what can be the excuses from industrial agriculture.  Historically industry will repeat all of the things listed above and describe the people taking the video as terrorists. They’ll say that the particular farm and the conditions revealed wasn’t like that when it was audited for humane standards and certification. My question would be, what changed in the farming practices between the standards audit and everyday practices?  Is it business as usual except when the humane farm animal standards audit is conducted?

No matter what your belief about what you eat, what is revealed in the undercover video is just plain wrong.  It doesn’t take a room full of philosophers or theorizers to figure it out.  You decide!

How much cost is too much cost when ensuring public health and safety in the air that we breath?  Is it more important to protect an unsustainable industry than to ensure and sustain the health and wellness of communities and citizens within in the State?  These are the questions we should be asking and finding answers to.

Maryland Senate Bill 773, The Community Healthy Air Act, is a call upon the State of Maryland to direct the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) to assess the Departments compliance of State and Federal laws and regulations of air quality.  It also requires MDE to assess whether certain Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation’s (CAFO) are complying with same said laws and regulations.

The environmental assessment requires that MDE identify all air pollutants emitted from CAFO operations within the State, collecting data from CAFO operations in accordance with an air monitoring program implemented by MDE, identify all State and Federal laws and regulations related to air pollutant emissions that apply, identify any specific exemptions or exceptions to State or Federal laws and regulations related to air pollutant emissions from CAFO operations within the State, and requires MDE to report to the General Assembly of Maryland on or before October 1, 2018.  The report shall include emissions of air pollutants from CAFO’s and MDE’s compliance and the compliance of CAFO’s in the State, with State and Federal air quality laws and regulations including the findings of the environmental assessment required.

In other words, folks, MDE will assess the Departments compliance of State and Federal laws regulations related to air pollutant emissions from CAFO’s within the State.  The Department will assess air pollutant emissions from CAFO’s within the State and compliance with the same laws and regulations and will monitor and identify air pollutant emissions from CAFO’s within the State.

Maryland SB 773 is straight forward in directing MDE to conduct a public health assessment, or impact, study, if you will, related to emissions of air pollutants from CAFO’s.

Opposition to the legislation is coming from the chicken industry.  The industry trade union, Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. (DPI), is leading the charge with a news release using the same old tired tactics of opposition that are put forth in a suggestive and argumentative manner.

This could impact our chicken growers if MDE tries to force its way onto farms to set up monitoring stations. It could lead to more state regulation for how growers operate their chicken houses”, says DPI.  DPI doesn’t own any chicken growers or farms.  It’s amazing how the trade union is the face that shows up in the State Capitol telling legislators it represents farmers.  Fomenting fear and unrest within the farming community is one of the same old and tired tactics I’m speaking of.  The government is going to force its way onto your farm and take over.  It will direct you how to run your farm.  This is what DPI is essentially saying to farmers.

Spouting the argument of “gathering scientifically valid and accurate data” is another old and tired tactic put forth by DPI.  In the past, the trade union has gone as far as calling peer reviewed scientific research conducted by researchers with doctorate degrees, “BUNK”.  DPI should be thankful for SB 773 as it will ensure that valid and accurate data will be collected by the State.  Unless, of course, DPI doesn’t want the public to know what air pollutant emissions are spewing from those CAFO’s the industry desperately needs.

On the Eastern Shore of Maryland, particularly in the lower counties, a building explosion of CAFO’s the size of warehouses with as many as 24 on one piece of land, can be found dotting the landscape.  Communities have raised concerns about the “in your face” location of the warehouses, some can be as close as 50 feet from a neighbor’s property line. DPI tells county legislators that it has a “Good Neighbor Policy” for farmers to follow and that is good enough for the local “powers that be” allowing for slack County building and zoning regulations despite the fact that the DPI “Good Neighbor Policy” is an unenforceable document that is useless. The document is something that was made up by an industry trade union that isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Further argument against SB 773 coming from the “industry denier,” DPI, is that “this bill is being pushed by a handful of persons in Wicomico County who do not want chicken houses built and operated in an be agricultural areas of the county. They are working with professional advocates not friendly toward the chicken industry. This could be part of their efforts to close down the chicken industry. Interestingly, the legislative sponsors are from Montgomery and Prince George’s County and Baltimore City.”

More of the same old tired tactics is to first minimize those in the communities and infer that outsiders are running the show with a hidden agenda of closing down the industry.  With the Chesapeake Bay separating the Eastern Shore of Maryland from the main land, locals call those people as being from “across the bay”. What is interesting about the SB 773 legislative sponsors being from “across the bay”, is the question of why the legislators from the Eastern Shore of Maryland have historically not sponsored, and have opposed, any legislation concerning the chicken industry unless, of course, it’s legislation giving away taxpayer dollars to sustain the industry.  Corporate welfare is on the agenda for Eastern Shore legislators.

Personally, I’ve never seen Eastern Shore legislators take a stand for citizens within the community and they’ve ignored the inalienable rights of citizens to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  There aren’t many citizens out there celebrating with happiness when those huge fans in the chicken warehouses come on, emitting lord knows what, and permeating the air in communities with the stench and particulate matter.  Industry claims the “right to farm” however if I’m not mistaken, every American citizen was granted “inalienable rights” on July 4th, 1776 with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Something is very wrong with this picture.  Somewhere along the line, the communities of the Eastern Shore of Maryland have become less than chickens.  Tomorrow, February 28th, 2017, a Maryland Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee hearing will take place in Annapolis at 1:00 PM.  We will see how important the public health and welfare of our communities are to the State of Maryland.  Chickens don’t pay taxes or vote!

As I watched the news this morning and heard the comments made by the so-called pundits, I realized that I’d heard nothing positive, good, happy, or just straight news.  The morning shows were quite a downer with lots of moaning and groaning as well as complaints.  I’m so ready to see and hear the end of the election and political mess, NO MORE!  It’s as if all have a glass that’s half empty rather than half full.  Gosh, does anyone have anything positive or nice to say?

Thanksgiving is upon us and it’s supposed to be a time of family and friends, sharing, caring, and joy.  It’s my favorite holiday and I’m truly thankful for all in my life.  I always say, “it could be a lot worse”.  If that thought doesn’t straighten up the doom-sayers, I’m at a loss to say what will.

I enjoy cooking Thanksgiving dinner with the scents of turkey roasting, stuffing being made, and scented candles throughout the house. Surrounded by family and friends is the best! I also enjoy eating the dinner, way too much, until I’m to the point of being stuffed.  I’m always thankful for the farmers and workers who made the food possible.  I do think about the cost of producing the food and I don’t mean the price of the food.

What do I mean?  I think that in today’s, day and age, most never think about where and how the food appeared on their dinner tables nor do they care.  It’s just there!  There are many “invisible people” along the way, finger prints on your food, if you will, that are never seen or thought about.

Producing food is hard work.  Starting on the farms where everything is grown or raised many don’t realize the efforts made toward their enjoyment.  The farmer has invested much time, energy, and care, not to mention cost, in bringing consumers the food that they eat.  Being a farmer myself, I still give thanks to my colleagues.  I know what’s been invested along the way of growing or raising food.  I also know the little thanks that are expressed to the farmer for the job that they do.  One of the most enjoyable things, to me, is when a customer says thank you for doing what you do.

Although I hate to contribute to the “downers list of wrong”, I must say that the first time that I was chatting with middle school kids during a presentation and asked “do you know where your food comes from” and I heard the answer “from the store” I was so disappointed.  Somewhere along the way, a disconnect to food has occurred.  Farmers have become the invisible thread in the fabric of society.

Many efforts are put forth in teaching our young about food however most of the teachings are about what food should or shouldn’t be part of the daily diet.  While there is nothing wrong with those teaching’s, it’s sad, at least to me, that our young don’t know the origins of the food they eat.  My thoughts about this are more than likely considered to be “old school” by many, but I think that appreciation of something that sustains daily growth, and life, should be identified and known.

This year as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, do yourself a favor.  Initiate conversation about the food on the table.  As each exclaims the “oh, this is so good”, over their favorites, talk about the origins of the food.  Pass down through the generations your knowledge about the food and teach the young one’s appreciation of what’s on their dinner plates.  For instance, do they know that a yam/sweet potato grows underground or that the grain that made the bread crumbs or cubes for stuffing grows above ground?  Give special thanks to the farmers because without them, no one would be enjoying Thanksgiving dinner.

I, for one, am looking forward to tomorrow.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Enjoy!