I love conversations on Facebook that spur good banter. A city-gal, with whom I'm friends, commented on watching the movie Food, Inc. Her comment was very much the norm. As Joe would say, so eloquently, "she drank the Michael Pollen Kool-Aid." However, knowing that this particular lady is very smart and savvy, she just watched it as an agricultural outsider, and the movie did what it was produced to do: PERSUADE CONSUMERS.
However, it wasn't the comment she made about the food processing plants or the production side of agriculture that got me to think. It was the anti-Monsanto sentiment. When I asked Joe if he believed that Monsanto had cornered the soybean market, or if they were taking over the agricultural chemical or seed production business, he took a second to respond. We had a good conversation about how this particular corporation could be seen as a monster, as it has been its practice to swallow all other little guys in the same business. However, I look at Monsanto with different eyes.
I see our dear friend Andy, who is working hard to take care of his two little girls and helps us out a lot. Joe and I see our friend Ron, a really awesome guy who knows his stuff and does great things for this company. We see Chris, my dear friend's husband, who works long hours and uses his Master's degree to do a good job for his farmer customers. We can rattle off many guys and girls we went to college with, who are not evil. They're just doing their job, in a field they love...they're farm kids with insurance benefits and a steady paycheck (WHO KNEW??)!!
When suburbanites and those who are not in the "agri-biz" watch something like Food, Inc. and hear that Monsanto is a terrible company, they don't have a face to put to the product. They don't have an Andy or a Ron or a Chris. They have a big, nasty corporate dude in their line of sight. I see a guy I go to church with.
It's the same as livestock farming. Until American consumers are able to see the faces that produce their beef or pork or chicken or whatever, big companies like Hormel or Tyson or whatever will just be big corporations with no heart, no family, and no need for good insurance.
While I'm not saying that life wouldn't be better for us if our Monsanto bill was a little smaller, I do truly believe, that like everything, there are always two sides to every story, and we as consumers need to be ready to understand that while we're all able to tell our stories, those who know the "real" story, should maybe yell a little louder.