Sunday, January 17, 2010


 Warning: Author’s Opinion and Self Indulgent Pontification

Okay, it is time to step back and take a deep breath. So far, I have written several pieces that take a rather scathing approach to our current food industry. However, I would like to clarify my stance and hopefully, try to limit collateral damage caused by trying to effect change.

It is pretty much a fact that the buying public is being mislead by food labels (a topic coming to these pages soon). It is common knowledge that highly compensated food lobbyists can influence safety regulations, chemical giants continue to promote questionable use of their products for farm production AND giant agri-business continues to push small local (read family) farming to the brink of extinction. We still must look at the big picture.

Whenever I feel my anger over our food production practices I am reminded of the song by the OSMONDS: “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch...” (Yeah, I know, I’m showing my age). The point here is that “green activism” often uses “carpet bombing” tactics to try to literally shut down whatever is perceived as an antagonist. Protest, in its varying forms from extreme to non-aggressive, often have a domino effect that may cause unintended harm.

When I write about health dangers in feedlots, the use of chemicals on crops, or “rage against” industrial farming, I have to remember against “whom” I am ranting. The truth is that all the bending of rules or regulations, the promotion of various production methods, as well as the ambiguities in marketing and labeling can be blamed, basically, on the very few…AND therein lies my point.

Industry means employment and employment means economic health. A lot of fine, hard working folks work in industries that many find objectionable. The fact that a person is a meat plant worker, a lumberjack, works on a whaling boat or any potentially objectionable job does not make them evil, cruel, or unjust. Most likely he/she is someone who is a member of the community, feels fortunate to have a job and is just trying to make ends meet while supporting a family. No, our rath should be reserved for the “bean counters and politcal wonks”. Our methods should be geared toward change that is manageable and measured…not radical or extremist.

So, when trying to effect change, aim at the “one bad apple” not “the whole bunch”.


  1. very noble of you indeed.

    and wouldn't it be better to have better working conditions for them too?

  2. Yes, working conditions are very poor in most of these plants and it is a real shame. There was a time when a "cutter" was a skilled, well paid position and the handlers were fairly compensated as well. The assembly line method where each worker does the same task over and over, coupled with mechanization, has driven the wage structure down to "poverty pay". Because the task assigned becomes rote, a particular skill set is no longer can be learned very quickly. And thus, requires lower pay.