Bad press strikes again.
When one hears the word, Texas, what does one think about? Big open spaces? Big football stadiums? Cattle operations? Cowboy hats? Any more stereotypes? I have some Texans out there, so please do not be offended by my generalizations.
How about fancy Texas cooking? Colleges such as Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts College? Well, in Dallas, there's a branch of Le Cordon Bleu, and I have a cousin who is a new teacher on staff. This Midwestern-Home-Ec-teacher-turned-pastry-chef-turned-college-instructor has just started teaching there, and during her lesson, hit the jackpot on bad agricultural press. Luckily, she turned to us to set the record straight.
The short version of this story is that in her curriculum, farming was cast is a rather evil light. In her lecture materials, it was reporting that farming today is evil towards animals, citing cases where cattle were kept in cages until their sale dates, as well as citing Monsanto as the Devil in the Corporate Flesh. To my cousin's horror, the resources provided by this prestigious school were telling the teachers to lecture that farming was horrible and the cause of the collapse of not only modern society, but was a direct cause to the ruination of our environment. She stopped, mid-lecture, to express her horror, and began a dialogue with her students.
Here's where I came in. . . I was happy to have Joe over my shoulder as I was messaging her back(usually I tell him to get lost when I'm checking Facebook. .. not that there's anything to hide, but seriously, we have basically the same friends). Anyway, Joe and I gave my cousin concise, honest answers about our operation. The questions she had weren't tricky, but ones that housed buzz words that are all over the press. From pesticide use to whom we sell our cattle and how and to whom we sell our grain, my cousin asked questions that were pretty basic, but left to the wrong person, the answers could have been skewed to make farmers out to be the bad guys.
I implore all of you, whether you're in agriculture, or not, to ask questions about your food and the affect agriculture has on your life, but don't just ask anybody. Don't just google your questions away, go to a source that you trust. Don't just ask one side, either. I would love to sit down with a farmer with many different types of produce growing and different animals roaming free to know how their operation works. I would love to ask what are their struggles, and how is it that chickens stay put, and just mingle around the yard? Don't they ever get lost?
My hope through this conversation with my cousin thousands of miles away, she can direct her students away from the bad press that tends to swarm around agriculture. While I do believe that there are some farmers out there who are not doing what they should be, there are a lot more like us who are trying to make a living at doing what they love to do.
Now let's all hold hands and sing "Kum-Bye-Ya!"