Tuesday, May 15, 2012

'Rural Romanticism'

HOTH doesn’t always agree with Doug Powell, the Kansas State food scientist who churns out a variety of food safety information daily through blogs and listservs. But an essay Powell highlighted from Canadian food-safety lawyer Ronald L. Doering is too good to pass up. Titled “Rural Romanticism and ‘Natural’ Foods,” it appeared originally in Food in Canada magazine. A few samples:

With the growing recognition that organic food is not any safer, tastier, more nutritious or more sustainable, in spite of the higher price, consumers now want foods that are produced the old fashioned way on the small family farm … Not surprisingly, food companies are turning themselves inside out to try to meet this demand. So we see ads with handsome farm families beside their green fields, no doubt providing natural, no-additive, chemical-free, home-style, no-preservative, artisanal ‘real’ food.

“I grew up on a farm and it bears little relationship to the bucolic scenes I see in these ads. Farming has always been, and still is, messy, bloody, dirty and very hard work. Why should farmers eschew modern methods to lessen their physical labour and be more efficient just so they meet some urbanite’s notion of what farming should be like? In what other sector of our economy do we encourage the greater use of yesterday’s technology?

“There is much talk these days that consumers are now more knowledgeable and care more about where their food comes from. In my experience, urban Canadians know almost nothing about where their food comes from … That’s because there is so much misinformation provided by alternative medicine and natural health websites, and by ‘wellness’ magazines that flood into this country every day, all unregulated. They read books written by urban foodies that have never set foot on a farm and who are shocked to learn when they do that most organic food now comes from large ‘industrial’ farms owned by multinationals, the very entities they despise.”


  1. i welcome you to look at pictures posted on my blog of a small farmer raising pigs. it is hard work, but there was not a speck of blood spilled prior to their slaughter date. not very bloody, messy, or dirty when done right.

    1. The point of the HOTH post, Meredith, was that raising pigs and producing enough food to feed this nation and even other countries is hard work (not sure Mr. Doering literally meant bloody), and it will not happen only with "small" farmers.

      There's a place for all sizes and types of hog farms. Yours isn't better, it's just different.

      Every hog farmer HOTH has had the pleasure of meeting cares deeply for his or her animals. Period!