Monday, April 9, 2012

Humankind’s First Harvest

The Bible tells the story about humankind’s first harvest: In the Garden of Eden, Eve plucked an apple or some kind of fruit from its tree and offered it to Adam. So why did they eat from the Tree of Knowledge? We think we know—guised as a serpent, a cunning Lucifer sweet-talked Eve into committing the Original Sin. However, maybe she was just hungry and needed to satisfy her stomach rumblings. Maybe Adam got cranky when he didn’t eat, and Eve didn’t want to deal with his attitude.

Whether Catholic, Jewish, Amish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic or one of a hundred other religions, we all depend on agriculture. Yet it was four years ago when I finally woke up and realized that I relied on farmers and ranchers for survival.

When I think back on my agriculturally illiterate life, I feel embarrassed—much like Adam when he and Eve were banished from paradise. Can you believe it? I spent over half my life eating food and wearing clothes and never once thought about who produced them. Grocery stores and malls would have been my answers had you asked me where food and fiber came from. Talk about the epitome of agricultural ignorance.
But here I am sharing my story with you. And that’s what agvocacy is all about.

How I got within the Agrosphere well, I owe it all to education. Until my return to college in 2008, I played baseball in the SF Giants minor leagues. If anyone depended on agriculture it was me, for I used a glove and a ball made from steer hide, I swung bats made from wood and resin, I played on turf-grass in stadiums built with concrete and wood, and I fueled my performance with protein powders and meaty meals. You’d think once my baseball career ended I’d a waved bye-bye to my addiction to agriculture. Nope. When I was back inside the classroom, I still encountered agriculture every day.

In an advanced composition class the teacher assigned this book  by Peter Singer, The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter. If you haven’t read it then I suggest you do; it provides perspectives on why animal extremists believe their dietary choices are supreme. The book will also force you to ask the same questions about contemporary agriculture that I did. Thing is, I read it in a class that had nothing to do with agriculture! I’m so happy I read it because it was the catalyst that sparked my quest for truth about our food system.

In telling you this, my mission is to start conversations about agriculture—with everyone. It might seem crazy that I believe everyone should join the movement to celebrate choice in our food marketplaces. Really it’s not too far-fetched though. What’s even crazier is I embody the type of consumer that agriculture has been targeting during its proactive campaign to raise awareness and increase agriculture literacy among disconnected consumers living next door and beyond. Because I grew up a city slicker, you might label me an “outsider,” a guy who has no business expressing his emotional bond with food, fiber, farmers, and ranchers. But as an agvocate, a.k.a, a farmer of information, my role is crucial to continur agricultural sustainability.

Even if considered an outsider to an industry that has been and is widely known as traditional, conventional, and conservative, I am proof that anyone can find a place in Agrosphere. Anyone with an honest desire to learn about food and fiber production can become an ambassador for those who we depend on every day.
Alls I’m saying is, when it comes down to it, your spiritual beliefs should complement the connection we share with agriculture, even more so when it comes to supporting American family farmers and ranchers. Besides family, what we eat and wear are the most important things in our lives (some would argue food, clothes, and shelter are more important).

Anyway, please, never stop asking questions about our food and fiber production. But, please, go to the right people: Talk to farmers and ranchers because they are the experts.

I’m glad you stayed with me this far, and I hope you make agriculture your true religion. Rather than argue about whose food is naturally healthier, or contend whose fiber is environmentally safer, let’s cultivate our Gardens of Eden.

No matter what production method you use to produce food and fiber, let’s support the men, women, and children who provide us with the chance to celebrate life.

Blog writer: Anthony Pannone

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