My Generation
The Friday Five: Character edition

The Friday Five: Character edition

Fairs and character, organic marketing, drought, Neil Young and more: Here are five links on the week in food and agriculture.

Back with a vengeance, after a two-week hiatus! Good stuff here, some held over from last week because you don't want to miss it.

Coach Character: Hands down, this is the best thing I've read this week. Born and raised in Indiana, Lindsay Sankey can write a good story and this piece about the pitfalls of denigrating small children for their work with livestock and in a show ring is exactly what so many of us need to read as we head out to county fairs. What's the point of showing livestock? It's about building character, Lindsay says. I couldn't agree more. Nobody needs to be humiliating a child at ring side. Or ever. As a side note, Lindsay also wrote a great story on the week before the fair. I get a little twitchy thinking about that week.

Organic marketing: Not truthful, often misleading: John Block nails it with this op ed for the Des Moines Register. He very carefully and clearly outlines the tactics used by the industry, including the Organic Consumers Association, a group I interviewed and found to be completely lacking in any amount of common sense food production knowledge whatsoever. And I say this as someone who supports organic agriculture: if a farmer can get someone to pay them more to grow something organically and it fits well into their operation, then by golly, they should go for it. It's the marketing that I have a problem with, and John Block lays it all out so well here. If you have friends and family who think organic is the solution to the world's problems, share with them what this former Secretary of Agriculture – they guy who was in charge of all U.S. food production under Reagan – has to say about it.

A farmer's straight talk on the drought: Listen up, city dwellers: An L.A. Times reporter talks with an almond/melon/produce farmer about the drought, why almonds keep getting beat up over water, and how the president wound up on his farm. This is good perspective if you feel distanced from the California drought.

How Neil Young, Greenpeace work to starve the world: The headline really says it all here. This opinion piece in the New York Post takes a look at Young's latest album called, "The Monsanto Years." I'm not making this up. Lyrics look like this: “I love to start my day off without helping Monsanto/ Monsanto, let our farmers grow what they want to grow/ From the fields of Nebraska from the banks of the Ohio/ Farmers won’t be free to grow what they want to grow/ If corporate control takes over the American farm/ with fascist politicians and chemical giants walking arm in arm.”

Google didn't lead the self-driving vehicle revolution. John Deere did. A good technology piece from the Washington Post, designed to give the non-ag world a window into our tech advancements – and pioneers. 

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