Sophie Mendelson, a Yale student, sent us a personal reply, along with that cool photo to the left. In the fall of 2010, she worked on a goat dairy in central Virginia, working 12-hour days, six days a week, for three months. It was tough – there weren’t enough employees because her boss couldn’t afford to hire enough people and she came to curse the 5:30 a.m. alarm that roused her for the morning milking.
Still, Sophie told us she hopes to have her own farm some day.
“I am a farmer of the future,” she wrote.
Sophie hopes the talk show will focus on the 2012 Farm Bill, food justice and how subsidies could help small, diversified, organic farms become more viable.
With enough money to hire employees, these farms could be a huge source of jobs, as non-mechanized farming requires a much greater degree of manpower than the industrial version. Even so, the farmer of the future will need grit, determination, and endurance. The farmer of the future must have a political voice, with the strength to demand the support needed to perform the most fundamental work in our society: growing our food.
Mary Boote wants to hear about farmers’ access to biotechnology and how trade impacts food security. Mary is the executive director of Truth About Trade & Technology, an Iowa-based group that advocates for the use of genetically-modified food and supports free trade.
She pointed to the recent story in “O: The Oprah Magazine,” that asked “How Do Genetically Modified Foods Affect Your Health?” The article raised many other questions about genetically-modified food and Mary felt it told readers to eat only organics.
There is nothing wrong with organics and there will always be farmers who will produce food in that manner as long as there is a customer base. It's called having a choice. However, it is impossible to feed the world's population with organic production only. Who chooses who does not get to eat? The absence of GM crops would mean that food is more expensive and less available.
The differences in Sophie’s and Mary’s concerns are what, well, concerns Rhonda McClure, the owner of a small farm in Nebraska. She’s worried about a new divide in food culture and she’s calling for détente.
Traditional vs. Organic have become labels pitted at one another almost as if they were the new political parties. As someone in between, and more likely labeled as sustainable, I can see valid points from both camps. But we have a big enough task informing the public of the issues that we don't need to be batting each other.