Upkeep, Downfall

So windy today it was comical. When we opened the screen door the wind would snatch it out of hand and slam it against the hinges. 

We said goodbye to Paul and headed South and East to Mt. Vernon where Cornell College was kind enough to host us. After a lighting mixup, we got the movie going for about 35 or 40 in a cozy commons area. It was about the perfect fit of people for the venue. 

We opted for a traditional panel following, which was really engaged. Kurt Friese a top chef at Devotay in Iowa City spoke passionately and eloquently about the importance of cooking. It's the act that separates us from animals, he says, and the old saw, you are what you eat, is absolutely true. Given that fact, most Americans are fast, cheap and easy he said with chuckles throughout the audience. 

David- a vegetable farmer- gave an inspiring answer to a young fellow in the front row who asked about how long it would take to be a farmer. Thirty days- he said- which is how long it takes to grow a radish from seed. The enthusiasm was apparent, the sense of possibility pregnant in the air. 

Bill Ellison and his partner Lois talked with romantic charm about the summer they fell in love- he an auctioneer, and her in need of someone to sell her machinery. They started farming, raising lamb, pigs, cattle, and are a big source of meat for Friese's restaurants in Iowa City. 

Brett from the Environmental Working Group pointed out that there are long term and short term goals when aiming to change. When you're looking for immediate results, change what you eat today. If you want to change the food system at your school- plan on it taking a number of years. An attempt to change a system is for the greater good, and may not take firm root until the next generation. 

We called it at 8:30pm and from there small conversations started between lots of folks. Bill Ellison and I got to talking and I mentioned that with the price of oil going up, there could be the possibility of the price of land dropping, allowing an easier entry cost for young farmers. He said he hoped so. Bill then gave a look straight into my eyes and said over the years he's learned one thing... once your upkeep gets too high it'll be your downfall. It made sense. It's true of every business he said. We may be entering a new phase of agriculture, one where high-input production requires too much upkeep to keep up.


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published this page in Ruminations 2012-07-18 11:37:30 -0400