Today, I read an AWESOME article by Holly Spangler over at Prairie Farmer. It had several anecdotal stories about the disconnect between HOW our food is produced and HOW we expect it to look and taste.
After reading it I though about this picture:
Yes, I squealed too.
Jared and I were busy shucking sweet corn and field corn (I’m not a fan of the sweet kind. Yes, my Midwestern friends have told me this is weird.) when I came across this little corn ear worm.
I didn’t throw the ear away just because it had a little worm on it. I watched him munch on a kernel for a little while then calmly cut the offensive end of the ear off, leaving it on the ground the for little guy to munch on another day. Thinking back on that after reading the article I realized that I wouldn’t have responded that way if I had of purchased the corn from the grocery store instead of getting it from a kindly neighbor. I would have probably still squealed, but would have been more selective about which grocery store I bought corn at next time.
There is a disconnect between what consumers (even those like me in ag) want and how they have to get it, especially if they are interested in certified organic. By design, food raised organically is going to have more insect pressure. It’s the cost you pay for more “natural” food. And even in the conventional sector there are still bugs. (Trust me, I had an enormous grasshopper jump on me in the cotton field today!) So how do we bridge the gap?
Well, I don’t have the answer but over the past semester teaching elementary age students, I have tried to answer their questions and get them thinking about agriculture. Bug stung peas, corn ear worms and critters munching on things in my grandma’s garden were just part of my life as a child. We worked and washed around them. I have tried (and will still be trying) to help my students understand the ecological balance that exists between humans, insects and the plants we both love to eat. It may not make a huge impact on how people in the U.S. view agriculture and food, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
What about you? How are you working in your community to bridge the gap between those several generations removed from the farm and the agriculture industry?
By the way, if you want another awesome blog post on corn and awesome technology check out Wag’n Tales’s post!