April 27, 2008

The Revolution Will Not Be Pasteurized

That is the title of a very good article in April's Harper's Magazine.  We were talking with some friends last night about the current state of the food industry so this was one of many paragraphs that stood out:
I asked Stoker if he’d ever considered returning to a smaller, healthier style of farming. “If I had a way to provide for my six kids and have a comparable standard of living I would do that,” Stoker said. “The way it is now, I’m more stressed, the animals are more stressed, our crops are probably more stressed. There’s nothing I would like more than to go back to that, but I’m too stupid to figure out how.”

The problem isn’t Stoker’s intelligence; it’s what he calls the “dishonesty of the market.” Advertisers promise that consumers can have the healthiest possible food from happy animals in idyllic settings at current prices. This obviously is a lie, but it’s a lie that most people accept. Although American consumers are periodically outraged by the realities of modern agriculture, they never stop demanding cheaper food. Stoker doesn’t mind playing the hand he’s been dealt. He’s good at producing cheap food. But, he acknowledged, “cheap food makes for expensive health care.”
I drank raw milk almost daily for a year while working on the farm and was none the worse for wear.  My biggest take-away impression was how, when compared to raw milk, the normal offerings from the supermarket are nothing more than white water - no depth of flavor whatsoever.  Worth a read.

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