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Modern urban Americans have an increasingly vague sense of where the food they eat comes from and how is it produced. Being 3 or 4 generations removed from the family farm, and subject to intense marketing of processed food and lured by the convenience of packaged or prepared on demand food, this diminishing awareness is accompanied by a declining quality in dietary habits. Media images of farmers as backwards, primitive and provincial - the rural "hayseed" or "country hick" stereotype - haven't helped in the struggle to educate the public about the life and death issues of food production, and the scientific and enlightened approach needed to succeed as a modern farmer.
read - When Hunger Rules >> "Depriving starved human beings of an abundant source of food is a crime against humanity."
The essential and time-honored art of agriculture, the very bedrock of our way of life, is one of the oldest and most dynamic civilized pursuits. When we say "scientific farming" we mean agriculture that is based on measurable, objective results, tested and reviewed by a wide variety of qualified and dedicated individuals and institutions. As scientific farmers, we are in close contact with the researchers at Michigan State University, we work with the pest management experts and read, study and attend conventions and classes constantly.
read more >> about the work MSU is doing to support safer agriculture practices
The Goals of Agriculture
The goals of good farming are three: feeding the population; producing safe and nutritious food; and building and strengthening the community and resources for the benefit of future generations. The orchestration of resources to best achieve these goals is the purpose of scientific agriculture. It is not possible to intelligently discuss agriculture if we omit the first and most important social value of farming: preventing starvation. The fact that most modern Americans have no direct experience with this makes it no less important.
read more >> about global food issues
The Urge to Primitivism
A consistent strain in Western thought is an urge to "return to nature" and this has the strongest attraction among those most removed from the hardships of nature. This drive has run as a counter theme to western civilization for 500 years. There is an image of an idyllic past in many city dwellers minds about a simpler, more natural time.
This point of view fails to take into account a few important factors. Farming is by its very nature "artificial" - that is to say, farming means directing, improving and building on the natural world. Mankind has been so successful in this improvement that many modern people are completely unaware of the ease and comfort they enjoy as a result of the progress of agriculture. Should we turn the clock back to a more natural time, we would need to be prepared to confront two stunning possibilities: we will have very little time anymore for philosophizing about the "natural order" as most of our time will be taken up with hunting and gathering; at least half the current population of the world will no longer be able to eat.
Tons and tons and tons of food are required every day to keep a city like Chicago fed, and if that pipeline were interrupted there would very quickly be empty shelves in the supermarket.
read Thoreau's "Wild Apples" >> one of the most celebrated and romantic essays on primitivism, that also discusses fruit and fruit culture.
Integrated Pest Management
Several innovative methods and approaches under evaluation at MSU and elsewhere may help assure consistent and economical cherry production while reducing possible environmental risks.
Organic? Fact and Fancy
"Good stewardship of the land and resources, responsibility to farm workers and commitment to consumer are not the exclusive provenance of organic farmers. "
The Center for Global Food Issues
"While the Green Revolution has gained wide recognition for its humanitarian achievements, many people have overlooked the habitat conservation made possible by the very same yield increases that helped prevent starvation and malnutrition for hundreds of millions of people. The conservation challenges humanity will face during the next century are even more daunting than the past century, requiring another doubling of human land use efficiency if we are to conserve the world's remaining wild areas and biodiversity."
When is a Farm not a Farm?
It seems like everyone wants to call themselves a "farm" these days. Apparently, corporate marketers think that we will buy more packaged and processed food if the illusion is created that it is more closely connected to farming then is often actually the case. Television ads show actors pretending to be farmers skipping through cornfields while an announcer solemnly narrates with a string of buzz words about "old-fashioned values" and "small town folks" and how important the "earth's bounty" is to them.