Kamis, 11 April 2013

Stay Calm & Farm On!

Today started with an interesting twist. My son has had a difficult week with issues at school. This morning I told him my best advice was to "stay calm and study on." Little did I know that in a short time, this saying would come back and help me deal with attention from an article in a national newspaper. . As I drank my morning coffee, I opened my email to find an article that included me in the New York Times. It was shared on a listserv by a member of the Hunger & Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group to which I belong (remember I was an RD before I was a farmer). WHAT? Why on earth would the New York Times care about me and why would I be included in an article?  So here is the link to the article:

The crux of the problem with this article and the way it came about was that NO ONE contacted me to inquire about my business relationships or to verify what was being written about me. This was an absolute broadside. I've never heard of Stephanie Strom, nor did she contact me to confirm the information she received from whatever source she thought was valid. Sadly, this illustrates what is wrong with today's journalists, the lack of integrity. A story is a story for the headlines and screw the accuracy because accuracy would make it a non-story.

THEN, I got my first tweet about the article! It said: 

"@FarmGirlJen Why are you in bed with #Monsanto #GMO?" 

(Oh no! What if my husband finds out?.....) 

This tweet came from a woman who calls herself a "Spiritual Teacher & Healer." Not sure she remembered her spiritualness when she tweeted me. I didn't find it very healing nor did she try to find out the facts first before she sent out that tweet. Only in her 2nd tweet did she ask what the facts were.... REALLY?

I have been speaking about agriculture, biotechnology, and farming systems for many years now.I  show yield data from our farm comparing our conventional, organic (formerly), and biotech yields and methods, talk about our farming practices and why we do what we do and how its changed over the generations. Its all about how we make decisions on our family farm and why.  When I give presentations, I  list the companies that my family farm does business with and any background about me that folks who are narrow-minded will assume makes me biased or otherwise unable to be objective, as was noted in the NY Times article. So what I did do was fully disclose all of our family farm's business associations with seed companies, chemical companies, commodity groups, and national and regional agri-businesses on the disclosure form for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I don't personally have direct dealings with all of them but I knew that if I did not list them all, that something like this would happen. Lo and behold..... it did. Did anyone else feel obligated to disclose where they purchase supplies for their business? ( By the way, I buy my paper from Staples, and this computer came from CompUSA. I buy groceries at Food Lion and shop at Tractor Supply for my clothes... I'm a farm girl not a fashionista). I also listed the prize money I won for being chosen as one of America's Farm Mom of the Year.  I did not disclose that the funds went into my kids college funds and to local non-profits including my church food pantry. Shame on me! 

For the record, I do not know if Monsanto has a "test farmer" program but if they do, I and my family farm am not part of it. We do LOTS of on-farm research which I blogged about last year: Growing Answers: On-Farm Research

So after my initial shock, I adopted my own advice that I had given my son but adapted it to suit my situation.  Today my mantra was: 
  "Stay calm and farm on."