Three weeks of being a farm-hand, and I’ve already got an opinion!

Three weeks of being a farm-hand, and I’ve already got an opinion!

Well, I’m leaving northern California. I didn’t make it as far north as I had planned, and that’s fine. I’ve had a good time, and have seen and done tons of stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise.

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I helped to kill and slaughter two pigs, for example. I eat pigs. I’ve eaten bits and parts of thousands of pigs my whole life. Who knows how many deaths of pigs I am responsible for? Bacon, pork chops, pork ribs, rillettes, pâté de campagne, all kinds of dry sausages (saucisson) from so many regions of France, Spain, and Italy and other places… I can’t name all the different kinds of meals I’ve had which have included some kind of product that comes from pigs. And yet, I have never helped to kill a pig, nor ever seen it happen until just a couple of weeks ago. I think we often forget that our meat “products” come from living beautiful beings. Some of them are quite intelligent and charming. They all have personalities. And we eat them. I eat them.

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There is such a detachment, in this country in particular, about our food and how it is produced.

The milk that millions of kids drink every morning came from the udders of millions of cows. Those cows must give birth once per year to continue to produce milk, and then usually are killed after about three to four years to be sold as beef. One cow can produces around 2 to 6 gallons of milk per day. That’s a lot of cows, folks. Think about that next time you’re at the supermarket standing in front of the milk fridge trying to decide what to buy. And then try an calculate how many such milk fridges are in your city alone, and let your mind be blown.

These last few weeks, I have been working as a farm-hand on a tiny family owned farm north east of Sacramento. It was back-breaking difficult work, and I loved it for the time, though I am not sure that I could do that kind of work the rest of my life. What it did for me, however, was to give me a brand new respect for the people who work the land day in and day out. These folks work so incredibly hard so that we can all eat. And yet, they are a dying breed, and not out of choice.

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Their hands are tied. They cannot sell the meat that they produce on the farm. They cannot sell the fresh milk they produce. The can barely sell the eggs. Making a living for a small farmer is nearly impossible. And if you listen to your local FDA agent, she will tell you that it is for your safety. Isn’t that funny? Every time we lose some sort of right such as the right to buy and consume raw milk if that is what you want to do, then we are told that it is for our safety… if it was really for your safety, then eating raw oysters would also be illegal, however the Big Corporation Anti-Oyster Lobby isn’t nearly as powerful as the Dairy Lobby.

This is the money given to members of our elected officials in 2016—mind you, the year is barely a month old—and the dairy industry has already given close to a million bucks.

Almost every food born disease in this country in the last few years has been traced back to a large industrial producer. How many of them get raided by the FDA and the FBI on a regular basis? Not many of them, and usually after many continual offenses… and even then, they rarely if ever get closed down. Somebody always gets paid off, maybe even the whole town gets paid off to shut the hell up as well as all the officials in whatever county the offending parties are located.

Check out this NYTimes article: Heart of Iowa as Fault Line of Egg Recall, by MONICA DAVEY (August 26, 2010)

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Food produced locally by people who love the land and their animals is so much better for you, is healthier for you, and if anything else, is so much more fun to eat and prepare. Yet, it seems like every law and regulation written is designed to close down the small farming operation “for your safety” and help the big industrial complex “for your safety.”

You should watch this documentary: FARMAGEDDON, it is available on Netflix Stream.

Regulations are very important to running and operating a complex society such as ours, however there are “good” and “bad” regulations.

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I for one don’t think that no government is good government. We need government, hell sometime we need big government especially in such a big and complex country as the one we live in. However, we need government to protect and help its constituents, its people, not help just the tiny small percentage at the top… because in the end, the people at the top couldn’t give a flying monkey’s ass about your health; all they care about is their bottom line, not your bottom.

 

Peace & Love!

François

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9 Comments

  1. I think everybody should work on a farm for a couple of weeks. So many kids don’t even know that their hamburger at McDonald was once a breathing living being. Thanks for reading!

  2. I enjoy all of your entries, and this one in particular. So glad (and jealous) that you had an amazing and challenging experience on the farm! More so that you are walking away with even more an appreciation for local farmers. If only everyone could experience farm life for a bit!

  3. thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences Francois. Very true!

  4. It’s a sad state of affairs. And very scary indeed. If we should protect anything, it should be the production of our food, and by default, the people who give their lives to keep us fed. Non of it makes any sense to me.

  5. I’m just at this very moment preparing a conference presentation that includes a bunch of sad statistics on farming and farmers… for example, less than 1 in 4 farms in the US makes a gross annual income of $50K. How about this: we lose 3000 acres of agricultural land to development every day… and up to 50% of our farmers will retire in the next 10 years. Yikes.

    Thanks for the awesome blog!!

  6. I want to believe there’s a slimmer of hope, however having talked to people who actually study this, there doesn’t seem to be much positive assessment of the issues… unless you’re a big industrial farmer, or you’re farming for yourself and your friends, there’s not much future for you. And it’s really sad for everybody, not just the farmers. This is where our food comes from. When just a few individuals who run a few companies all the sudden control most of the food production, that’s simply not good for anybody. Anyway, thanks for reading and sharing!

  7. What’s happening to small farms and farmers in this country is appalling. I’m glad you had this experience on the farm.
    As people become more and more informed about what is happening, maybe there’s a slimmer of hope?

  8. Thank you Pattie, I really enjoyed being at the farm. I’m sorry I had to leave so fast. Hopefully, I can come back and visit!

  9. Francois, It was so much fun hosting you here at the farm! I am enjoying your book Good Feelings. Thanks for your insights!

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