The Luxury Of Life We Take For Granted – November 2010
Recently I attended a program put on in conjunction
with the Goshen County Farm Bureau, the Southeast District Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers and Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington.
The speaker Dr. Gary Sides, who works for Pfizer, presented a program complete with photos, that all Americans should hear. One of his photos was of a group of American Indians running buffalo over a cliff. The photo demonstrated that those individuals knew where their food came from. In addition to knowing where their food came from, they spent a great amount of their time working on obtaining food. We don’t know how much time they actually spent every day working to feed themselves, but we could probably safely assume they spent over half of their waking hours if not 90% in that endeavor. Food quality, food safety and other concerns were distant concerns compared to food quantity.
The next picture showed an American household with their ready abundance of food in safe packaged containers spread out in front of them. These folks have very little concern about food quantity, but they instead have strong concerns over food safety and quality. Their knowledge of where this abundance came from is much less than the American Indian and if they are typical they would have only needed to spend about 10% of their time working to obtain this food.
The stark difference, as pointed out by Dr. Sides, is technology has allowed them this luxury.
Another point made by Dr. Sides is that we in the world would have no “culture” without “agriculture.” This point could have also been made by referencing the picture of the buffalo. People don’t spend time composing arias if they have to spend time looking for food. People don’t spend time developing computers and the programs that run on them if they have to spend time digging up roots or gathering berries.
Another set of photos presented by Dr. Sides shows how much of the third world spend their time. They too spend a majority of their time working to gather enough food to make the next day’s meal. These folks live an extremely hard life, which was shared by many Americans not all that long ago. Again, the difference between these examples is with the level of technology available.
Because people in America and other places with similar lifestyles have not experienced the problem of food quantity, they are able to ignore the realities of food production. It is however fascinating to me that these same folks who have such a limited knowledge of food production are more than willing to elaborate on how food should be produced. Many of these individuals feel that food should not be produced utilizing modern techniques but should instead be produced utilizing those techniques which would result in them having to quit their job and return to hoeing the fields and packing water from a water source a couple of miles away to keep the crop from perishing. I’m all for them trying this lifestyle if that is what they want, but should they be allowed to make that choice for everyone else?
Before they do policy makers and the rest of the public need to listen to Dr. Sides’ program so they know what they are getting into. Meanwhile, I’m going to keep enjoying my lifestyle free from the hardships others in the world experience. I’m also going to take the time to thank those in agriculture who continue to allow me and my fellow urbanites to enjoy our culture.
By Ken Hamilton, WyFB Executive Vice President