Joel Salatin: Communicating Ecological Eating

Consumer education might be the most important thing we can do to spread sustainable agriculture among farmers.

Consumer education might be the most important thing we can do to spread sustainable agriculture among farmers.

*This article first appeared in the February 2016 issue of Acres U.S.A. I will just take out key excerpts, but the full article can be read for free here at EcoFarmingDaily. 

“How do we move ecological farming forward fastest? Is it by converting farmers, or converting people who buy our stuff? Certainly both need attention, but I’ll submit that we don’t put enough responsibility on customers. While we farmers shoulder the brunt of accusations regarding depleted soils, tasteless food, animal abuse and pathogen-laden fare, by and large consumers escape with excuses.”

“Part of our marketing as ecological farmers, both corporately and individually, is to put some onus on our constituency to drive demand for a different farming paradigm. Farmers and the food system have always risen to market demand. Letting our customers off the hook as just victims of advertising is an excuse that doesn’t serve our soil well.”

“Those of us who understand the problems and the solutions need to articulate this responsibility on our advertising fliers, to our farm visitors, and in our collective voice. Factory farming exists because people buy factory-farmed stuff. Hot Pockets exist because people buy them. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) exist because people buy them.”

“Here are some protocols for ecological eating that offer positive messaging to our customers and buyers as a whole. Rather than browbeating them for being naive, lazy, ignorant or whatever else we can rant about, let’s give our customers the language to join us as team players and then to become our recruitment force.”

1. Safe

“Do you feel safer in a crowd or at home?

Do you trust your neighbor more than a foreigner? (This has nothing to do with xenophobia. It’s just a straight-up intuitive question, without malice or prejudice.)

Do you trust what you know more than what you don’t know?

Do you trust friends more than bureaucrats?

I won’t belabor the questions, but you get the drift. Ultimately, safer food comes from smaller establishments that we know operated by neighbors and friends. That’s not some crazy leap of faith; it’s as reasonable as it is intuitive.”

“Anyone with a lick of wisdom exhorts parents to know where their children are and who they’re with. Would any mom send her 5-year-old to a sleepover with strangers? Is it too much to ask that same mom to exercise as much precaution over the food that her 5-year-old ingests?

Would anybody excuse a mom for not checking out the aforementioned sleepover host family because she “just didn’t have time?” Or “I just don’t know what I’m looking for.” Of course not. And yet people use these excuses all the time to justify patronizing the industrial food system. In any other area of life, we’d scream: “Why didn’t you check it out?” But with food, somehow, faith in the supermarket trumps all improprieties.”

 

2. SUITABLE.

3. SEASONAL.

4. SIMPLE.

5. SYMBIOTIC.

 

I’ll let you read the rest of this interesting article over at EcoFarmingDaily.

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