How did we get so disconnected from our food? Could the answer be related to our relationship with God? Here are a few observations …
The Industrial Revolution was a major economic turning point in history and rapidly changed how people created and acquired goods. Innovations drove efficiency. Efficiency created products that were less expensive. Less expensive products increased demand. As demand increased, a need for more labor naturally resulted and sadly many people began to leave their farms for the bigger cities. Sadly, many of these early workers in urban areas were women, the very heart of the home, and their children. So while the average person acquired more material (due to an increase in wages and a decrease in cost for items), there was a tragic expense to the family.
No longer did people need to rely on the literal fruits of their labor. They could now shop at grocery stores for food and purchase other goods without any idea where these items came from or who made them.
It is interesting to note that it was the improved efficiency in the agricultural sector, marked by the British Agricultural Revolution, that gave the Industrial Revolution its initial momentum.
Here are a few statistics: approximately 35% of Americans have a college degree; almost 70% of households have pets; more than 50% of Americans dine out 2-3 times per week. All sounds pretty good with respect to quality of life.
Too much of a good thing? Diabetes increased from less than 1% of the population in 1958 to over 13% as of 2020; the obesity rate for adults over 20 years of age is currently over 30%.
While the U.S. population is increasing, the number of farmers is decreasing. Today only 1.3% of the labor force is made up of farmers. And as the number of farms continues to decline, the size of farms continues to increase.
Other statistics to consider: today only 20% of Americans attend church weekly. How patient and generous God has been with us.
It would be easy to feel gloomy as if there was nothing that could be done. But to the contrary! There is so much that we can do to restore balance. First, we want to slooowwwww things down, create less noise and allow for more quiet. Farming is perfect for this. This less ambitious and more contemplative shift will help us better to re-connect with God and regain understanding of how we are to feed our body and our soul. How did God intend for us to eat? What should we be eating? And more basic … just how do we go about doing it?
We’ve been thinking about these things a lot (and many others). And here’s what we have come up with for a starting point:
– accept that we know very little and have much to learn! Prayerfully ask God for assistance
-avoid using large equipment i.e. combines or any tractor over 26 hp (that’s what we happen to have … hee hee!)
-farm to a level that is meant to provide for a small community rather than an entire state/country (Kansas grows 20% of the wheat for the entire U.S.!)
-don’t fight nature. If something cannot be grown without the use of pesticides/herbicides, large equipment, then either find another way to grow it (cold frames in winter) or grow something else
-work with God’s plan and eat ‘in season’
We’re just a few people with a few ideas. We hope to meet lots of people with a lot more ideas. Here’s what we hope to accomplish with Growers & Graziers:
-bring families back to farming
-encourage people to learn where their food is coming from
-nurture a culture of eating local and what’s in season (this means getting creative like using cold frames in the winter)
-offer an outlet for producers to get their products to consumers
-educate and mentor young farmers in the community with the intent to create a robust food network
-bring down the scale for farming so that the average family is working with 1 acre or less
-re-unite livestock to the vegetable side of production. Many vegetable producers rely on commercial fertilizers when God has already provided us with some of the best fertilizers … sheep, cow, horse, chicken, etc .. manure!
-restore growing practices of heirloom vegetables and encourage seed collection
-establish a ‘Seed Exchange’ for heirloom seeds