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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was wonder if anyone has read "Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollon. The section about the Polyface farm where a farmer is raising pasture-fed animals and trying to fight the goverment regulations making it difficult for him was truly amazing and inspiring.

The way he tries to work with nature and the cycles they established like having cows graze a pasture first, then follow with chickens so they can eat the bugs from the cow pats and graze on the shorter grass and how doing things naturally like that keeps the animals healthy and clean. Very inspiring stuff.
 

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Love Love Love Love Love Love Love that book!!! Pollan is an excellent writer. I like it because it wasn't one sided, I thought he gave a pretty balanced view of most of the information. And he was funny too! 'Corn Sex' as a chapter title,,, so funny! It made me think about so many things differently. I think it is a must read for everyone!

I especially liked the Polyface farm experience. I learned so much, why can't more farms be like that! If I am ever travelling thru VA I am going to stop in!
 

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Wonderful book. He's a great writer in general. Botany of Desire is also a good read for anyone else interested in similar issues.
 

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Read it as soon as it came out and recommended it to all of my friends. A bunch read it and loved it (come out and show your love on this thread, mamas!) and one even went to Polyface to see it for herself!

The book is truly inspirational and educational. I was concerned that it would be largely preachin' to the choir (I'm passionate about eating locally/sustainably) but I wound up learning so much. I'm eager to forage one day - I had no idea that would be such a fun chapter!

I also was pleasantly surprised to see Pollan speak truthfully about organics becoming part of the agribusiness craziness. I hadn't read that angle before despite knowing it was becoming a problem.
 

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I haven't gotten through the book -- just the corn section. I love what I've read so far.
 

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I adore that book, and everything else Michael Pollan has written! We have both the print and audio versions of it, and listening to the audio version in my hubby's workshop has made a big impact on his co-workers as well.

Jennifer, if you want to know more about those farming methods, you should also get Joel Salatin's books (he's the Polyface guy).
 

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Oh, I just got mine from on hold at the library 3 days ago and have been reading it any free moment I get. I learned so much about corn as a commodity. Can't wait to read about the 4 meals...
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sedalbj
why can't more farms be like that!

While I totally get that this may have been a rhetorical question, I still feel the need to answer, for those that don't know farming in and out (having been raised on the family farm and still being active in it qualifies me, I think
)

It's danged hard for farmers to make a living. Yes, they do have alot of "stuff" but so many times it a case of being asset rich and cash poor. Yes, they may get a check for $500,000 when they sell their crops-but have you ever seen a fuel bill? (Even before we hit $3 diesel, we'd spend close to $25,000 just for harvest. That doesn't include Semi's to haul, tractors to plant, or seedtrucks.) Don't forget you have to pay for the combine to begin with-and at $350,000 new, that's a lot of money sitting in the shed for use 3-4 weeks a year. Tractors are almost as bad. And when they break, it's not a $1000 repair job-more like $10,000. Plus farmers have to pay for the shipping, storage, insurace and everything when they sell it-not the middleman like everything else. Kind of like if would be if, when you went to a farmers market for example, the seller had to pay sales tax and income tax, but you didn't have to pay any. It's a matter of having a high cash flow.
And beyond that, farmers dont get a monthly pay check-they get an annual one. Try budgeting that!
(Aint easy I promise!)

Especially when there are bureaucrats in DC making rules about having to have x amount of ground per quarter section set aside for "wildlife"-do they really think that birds/bees/deer/elk etc don't live/eat off the field regardless?

A lot of people wonder why farmers don't do this or that, and it's because they can't make a living off doing it. It takes money to live for them just like it does everyone else. Did you know that a bushel of wheat sells for the same price as the bread I bought in the store last night?-and you can make roughly 100 loaves out of that same bushel of wheat? Food for thought....

Not trying to be overly harsh or mean-etc, just wanted to clarify, because there are so many people who are so far removed from agriculture, that they don't know the difference between canola and sunflowers. (They're both yellow, right?) (My dads sister is a perfect example-when she saw lentils in the field. She thought they were peas that had been processed. And she grew up in a farming family!!! Granted, she is a little
: but still! )

Anyhow, thought someone might be interested.
And again, I emphasize-not criticizing the question, but just wanted to provide a little extra info.
I'm off my soapbox now....thanks for listening!
 

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Laurel -- The Polyface farm uses a whole different model of farming. Read the book and report back to us. I would be very interested in hearing the barriers to farmers adopting such a model from your perspective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Laurel - I don't know if you read the book or not but he does profile a corn farmer and he shows the dilemma that the government has created where the corn prices keep going down because there is so much corn being grown so the farmers have to grow more corn to eke out enough to live on which in turn drives the corn prices down further.

He also talks about all the problems that the Polyface farm faces because of government rules and regulations set up to only work for large factory farms - like the fact that they can't slaughter their own cows so they have to send them to a slaughterhouse, totally raising the cost and the chances of the meat becoming infected. Then when they worked with someone to build a slaughter house that would butcher their cows in the way they wanted, the government pulled the inspector because they weren't killing fast enough and it was a waste of their time for such a small amount of cows - shutting the place down.

It's very hard to fight the system.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Gale Force
Laurel -- The Polyface farm uses a whole different model of farming. Read the book and report back to us. I would be very interested in hearing the barriers to farmers adopting such a model from your perspective.
You're right-I shouldv'e put a disclaimer in there-re: the book. I haven't read it, but I will, as soon as I can find it/get it.

There were couple sidebars in NT - or maybe it was the WAP website-cant remember-about farming and the effects of chemicals on the quality of the rye thatch roofs and the consistency of the soil. I think it would be really interesting to see what would happen, farming the way that was described-but again-I'll go read the book.
Hope no one thought that was a
: aimed at them...because it wasn't.
(I live in a college town w/ an ag school-and they held a farming seminar for the local farmers and wondered why no one raised a particular crop and had no idea it was because there was no market. (I'm not saying any one is that out to lunch on here-by any means!-just a little background info as to why I'm a little soap boxish on the subject,that all.

Didn't mean to start an argument or anything-not trying to
: anyone either. I promise!
 

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Laurel, I understand your soapbox, but you might find it interesting to learn more about Polyface Farm and Joel Salatin's work. It's about truly sustainable (not industrial organic) agriculture, about integrated farms that work with the systems of nature, about local food, about farmers NOT needing to work within that system that has so many trapped, with the commodity grain or milk or whatever, the middlemen, the shipping food long distances, etc. Everyone's losing in that system except stockholders in Monsanto, ADM, and the like. Farmers lose, consumers lose, the Earth loses. It is hard to make a living farming in that system, but I think Joel is trying to educate people that there is a way out for those who are open-minded enough to learn new ways of doing things, and that way out can result in a really fine living for the farmers and really high quality food. He's speaking from decades of experience, too. His book Family Friendly Farming is a good place to start for anyone wanting to get a sense of where he's coming from.
 

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I'm not irked. I think it would be totally cool for you to read the book and report back.
 

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Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway is also an amazing book that puts the difference between sustainable and modern farming practices into perspective. For example, that wildlife area that you mentioned actually allows for a much more vast diversity of bugs, which in turn help to pollinate some crops and/or keep pest populations DOWN. This means less insecticides are required and higher yields are obtained. Years ago, farmers didn't have to spray nearly as much as they do now for pest control because the pests were kept in check by their natural predators who lived in the bush. Now, any bush areas have largely been removed, either because of a mistaken notion that that's where the pests come from or in order to make room for more crops. Basically, the wildlife areas will eventually allow for higher yields.
Maybe those who have a problem making a living at it should look into alternative methods of making a living on the farm (growing other crops, changing the way they grow those crops, purposely incorporating animals into their farms, etc) rather than just doing what they're doing on an increasingly larger scale with increasing reliance on machinery and chemicals.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cathe
Laurel - I don't know if you read the book or not, but he does profile a corn farmer and he shows the dilemma that the government has created where the corn prices keep going down because there is so much corn being grown so the farmers have to grow more corn to eke out enough to live on which in turn drives the corn prices down further.

He also talks about all the problems that the Polyface farm faces because of government rules and regulations set up to only work for large factory farms - like the fact that they can't slaughter their own cows so they have to send them to a slaughterhouse, totally raising the cost and the chances of the meat becoming infected. Then when they worked with someone to build a slaughter house that would butcher their cows in the way they wanted, the government pulled the inspector because they weren't killing fast enough and it was a waste of their time for such a small amount of cows - shutting the place down.

It's very hard to fight the system.
I should have read the book before I said anything.....like I said, I wasn't criticizing or anything...I just see so many people who don't hesitate to gripe about the farmer and don't really have a clue as to what it's like-and it irritates me after seeing people work so hard for so many years and still not having as much as the guy that went to school for 4 years, and graduated to make $85,000 his first year out. I'm glad you guys are up to speed on how things really work.... (off topic but still related-have you heard of NAIS?)

(BTW-thanks for filling me in without shooting. I appreciate being corrected-when it's done like that not like
-KWIM?

off to go book shopping
 
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