I Dedicate my Kitchen...

Driving through Southwest Iowa, for miles and miles you will see fields of corn and soybeans. Markers indicate what is planted in each row: seeds from Dekalb, Pioneer, Cargill.... Pristine and green,  the plants are genetically engineered to withstand an onslaught of chemicals like Roundup. You might even see a billboard ad for Monsanto, the company responsible for Roundup, the Roundup-Ready gene, and Agent Orange. To anyone who is concerned about chemical pesticides, genetically modified food or biodiversity, the scene is chilling.
American Gothic, a painting by Grant Wood
Please do not blame the family farmer. If you hang around for a while, you might learn that Cargill  owns the local elevator and does not buy organic crops. Why grow organic corn or soybeans, if there is no one to sell them to?
Keep on driving, and you will see huge confinements for hogs and chickens that will never see the sun much less have an opportunity to stretch out or exercise. Cattle lie in the mud in a feedlot instead of grazing in a field.

The huge meatpacking plants, (a euthimism for "slaughterhouses,") are owned by companies like Cargill, Triumph Foods, Smithfield, Tyson, Hormel, and others. Some own their own huge livestock operations and cut every corner they can to maximize profits. Others own the stockyards and manipulate prices. Bigger, faster, cheaper. Few big meatpackers will take free-range hogs, (citing "sanitation issues,") and others will pay no premium for grass-fed cattle or eggs from chickens not raised in battery cages. Why raise livestock in humane way if one cannot earn a living at it?

Farmers learn about Supply and Demand long before city-folks take Economics 101. Yelling at the guy on the combine will not help; he cannot hear you. Instead, shout with your dollars and create demand.

Support local agriculture. Bypassing the Big Boys puts more money into the farmer's pocket. Farmers' Markets allow smaller, local producers to sell directly to you. You get to talk directly to the source, too. If "organic" and "humane" products have a demand, the supply will follow within a few seasons. If you are a carnivore, consider buying a hog or side of beef directly from a farmer who does not run a "factory farm."

Stop buying what you protest against. Big Food knows that, when polled, consumers care about pesticides, animal welfare, and genetically manipulated food. They also know that at the checkout, consumers buy their products no matter what is in them. To "like" articles about genetically modified food, "share" posts about chemical additives, and "sign" online petitions demanding humane livestock farming means absolutely nothing if you keep buying products that you claim not to want.

Ask your grocery store for organic produce and humanely produced meat, eggs, or milk. Our local store will not stock it, but will order in a whole case of produce or a minimum of six pounds of pastured beef. The more people are willing to buy, the more the processors will invest. There are some large companies with major supply chains that are growing to meet the demands of consumers. Ever hear of Bob's Red Mill? Earthbound Farm? Cheer them on!

Today is Occupy Our Food Supply's Blogger Day of Action. Dedicating a post here and there to the cause is meaningless unless I follow up with action. I dedicate my kitchen, and my family's meals, to the organic and humane farmers of North America.

This blog has been shared with the Weekend Whatever,  Fat Tuesdays, Simple Lives Thursday and Fight Back Friday.


  1. Well said. It's so sad. I'm seasonal. I buy stuff in the winter but grow most of my own in the summer. I need to be better in the winter.

    1. Thank you. The subject is so touchy in rural areas. Thousands of family farms are lost every year because they give up, sell out, or have lost the fight.

      Clarinda has a lively little farmer's market. Last summer, I thought a good buy on forty pounds of tomatoes would last us the winter. I made most of it into pizza sauce and it lasted until January. Now it's cans or produce from warmer climates. How many freezers would be enough?

  2. What you described is the way Nebraska is, too (where I live). Fortunately there are more "foodies" getting on the bandwagon and small farmers are starting to answer the call. It's still hard though, having to go to multiple places to source food.


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