Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Going Back to the Start

I thought this was a fun, albeit overly-simplistic illustration of a family farm, turned factory farm and back again.

What I like about it— aside from Willie Nelson, of course— is that that the fictitious farmer in the video, a.k.a. Farmer Chipotle, didn’t really know where his farm was headed when he started looking for ways to improve on his business model. Like many of the shortcuts taken in modern agriculture and food processing, the farmers and food companies may have started out with good intentions— at least I hope they did. After all, farmers and food producers are in business to make a profit from the products they produce, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I know first-hand what it’s like trying to produce the highest quality product while also attempting to run a profitable business, and at the Beyond Organic Ranches we are always looking for ways to improve efficiency and lower costs in our business, through the use of improved technology. However, the one question that’s Always on My Mind when considering “improvements” in our manufacturing processes is this…

Will this improvement detract from the nutritional quality and efficacy of the product?

It’s this question that has guided me throughout my career and that I believe should be the philosophical cornerstone of our modern food system. This question should be a guide for farmers and food producers as they consider “questions of science and progress.”

So to all my fellow farmers and food producers out there wondering how you got so off track, maybe it’s time to go “back to the start.” Yes, it’s definitely time to get back On the Road Again to improving the lives and health of those we serve.