So much of what I’m going to touch on here must be augmented with an understanding of the globalization of our planet and how the corporate players that got us into this hot mess are the same ones holding themselves up as messiahs of salvation. If we buy their solutions to the problems they created, we are headed into the dark wood without a compass. They hold up promises to get us out of our predicament, but only if we are dutiful and listen to what must be done. Of course, what must be done further ensures the destruction of our mother earth, our bodies and spirits, and the increasing serfdom of humans dependent on soylent green factory slop in order to live. There are some references at the bottom of this essay to help put some of this in context if what I’m writing seems in anyway far fetched to you. Please feel free to share your own so we can all continue to learn together.
In 2004 I gave my very first presentation as a nutritionist. It was entitled, “The True Cost of Food” and my audience was a gathering of farmers, eaters, and shareholders in the organic food community. I used all sorts of fancy statistics, studies, and comparison charts to illustrate the affects that governmental subsidies to big agribusiness (making their food artificially cheap) had on the consumer’s understanding of what food should actually cost.
I thought by this time, some eighteen years later, things would be looking altogether more hopeful. In many ways they do. In many ways they look far worse. There is more conversation around regenerative farming. People are more connected to their food. Organics has gone mainstream (to the benefit and detriment of its original spirit). But these are mostly the things happening at ground level. As for bureaucrats, policy wonks, governments and their bosses, the big corporations, the plan for megalithic farms producing as much cheap food as possible has only mutated into shiny new technologies promising food stuffs with no farms at all.
It was back in those early 2000s that I spent much of my time volunteering on all manner of farms. I wanted to understand more about small farms, the role they played in the food system, the follies and the successes. The more time I spent on farms, the more I understood the connection between the soil biome and our own. There is no separation between us and the soil and the sky and the animals. Our Creator came up with the most marvellous design and overlaid it on all of life. We are all inextricably connected. We cannot abuse one without the ripples of that wound washing up in us all. Look around, you can see the scars everywhere.
My message has always been that the answer to our mess is more small farms. Small farms on every corner. Cheese farms in every community. Diversified, family farms, each raising a bit of this and that. Small farms for raw milk and small farms for fresh lamb. Small farms for sweet summer produce and eggs. Small farms that care for the land, that know the land, that share the ethos of stewardship with the eater who is invested in their success. Small farms scattered about like stars in the sky. Just as it once was.
Many small farms in many small communities make nobody rich, but they do make people healthy and connected and that’s a serious problem.
The corporations that took over the small farms and contracted out the farmers into low paid employees are boring at the idea of giving any other human a cut of their profits. Why pay a farmer when you can pay a small group of factory workers while the vats grow cells in their steel bellies. The governments that hand out subsidies to the megalithic farms are now shifting their gaze, seduced by the idea of ridding the people of the possibility of feeding themselves in favour of dependency on protein alternatives. Plant based masquerading as salvation. In reality it is nothing more than a bread line.
For decades Wall Street prospectors and corporate processors squeezed whatever juice was left from the farm. Some farms buckled. Others were bought up and amalgamated. Still more became addicted to government subsidies when the farm just didn’t afford them a living. Animals suffered. The soil suffered. Shortcuts proliferated. The humans in the system suffered. The eaters were happy for a separation that allowed them to buy meat at .99/pound with nary a thought to the ‘how’.
All of this could only happen in the shadows. And because it was so dim in those backrooms, few people really understood who was profiting and at whose expense. But the veil is being lifted and the profiteers are doing what they always do - a shell game to distract.
Now, they who allowed the suffering of our lands, the animals, and the workers to go on for decades, are here with answers. There will be no more suffering of chickens in massive, stinking chicken houses because there is no need for chickens. No more feedlots because there will be no more cattle. No more mega dairies because the “mylk” you drink is but a liquid facsimile blended and deodorized and flavoured and texturized into something smart enough to trick your tongue into accepting into your body.
All can be synthesized when man is smarter than God.
I have to give it to them, they have played the game exceptionally well. I’m here at the table, looking at my options and wondering where it was that I got so blindingly sideswiped. Here I have been, doing the ‘good work’, proselytizing about regenerative farming, animal welfare, small farms and raw milk and nourishing traditional foods and suddenly, I look up and, well, would you look at that! Standing beside me, nodding their heads in agreement, are the corporate shills that got us into this mess. “Preach, sister!”, they cheer. “Say it again for the people in the back!” Only they’re fingering the dollars in their pocket while they demonize farming as a whole and champion the penultimate solution - bugs, lab meat, and genetically engineered mono crops. Hallelujah and Amen!
We agree, them and I. It can’t go on as it is. But where I see many more localized small farms, they see dwindling dollars. “Naive! Foolhardy!”, they cry. Water cycles and life cycles and the whole of the matter of life as it has always been on this planet are just details too much to understand anyway. “Zero Carbon”, that’s the way. Catchy. People can get behind it. People can build empires on it.
The “meat alternatives” industry is now valued at one trillion dollars and growing.
The world’s governments and globalists (is there a difference anymore?) say technology will indeed save the day. The time for animals is over. Expect to see evermore imagery of the most vile of animal abuses under the guise of ‘farming’. Death is all behind us now.
Off the farms. Into the smart cities.
Away from your food. We will take care of you.
And now Money and its many salivating disciples has a new ally in its march to madness - the great technocratic solution to all our woes. Same people, different costume.
Food shortages and scarcity and propaganda all enforced and echoed by the brazing liars and the pitifully misinformed. All of the backroom shenanigans and any sprinklings of truth, hidden behind the red velvet curtain of righteousness.
So where are we now? Do I still carry on insisting that the only way forward is small farms? Because it’s true, it’s the way to right this ship in so many ways. But they aren’t here, are they? Those small farms with the willing eaters, lining up to support more. Those eaters connected to their food source and willing to pay the true cost of food like I spoke about in 2004. There’s some, yes. But truth be told, the masses continue on, swayed by convenience and artificial prices. What will they eat?
In ten years from now, what will the single mother living on the outskirts of Toronto in an apartment with three kids be feeding her children? What would I tell someone like that? The same thing I tell the middle and upper class families I talk to about budgeting and prioritizing food over a shiny new car and subscriptions to tv channels and semi-annual vacations? Is that fair?
What will be that woman’s options for her family? Is it better to have access to real, nourishing animal foods from a conventional food system or none at all? Ground beef made from a bovine or a lab creation shaped into something recognizable but full of ingredients that are dripping in destruction. Is it better for her to buy a bag of soup bones at the grocery store and make her family some conventional beef liver with a bag of onions for less than a dollar or will it be better for all when those things are so heavily taxed and levied that all she can do is opt for the pea isolate patties loaded with seed oils and gut destroying anti-nutrients? I guess it depends on who you ask. The pharmaceutical companies think better is dollars and nobody generates more dollars than a sick population fed slow dose poisons.
We need only take a look around to see where the corporatization of our food supply has brought us. We’re a society of fat, depressed, and aching humans. This is not normal but it has become normalized. Now, fast forward just a few short years. Imagine what we will find. If there are no more examples of robust health, do we just forget that it exists? If we rewrite vibrant health with the marketing of images of obesity and frailty as “health” does it become okay in our psyche? They’re betting on it and you can see the evidence all around us.
How quickly will we forget altogether that a time existed when germs were rarely mentioned, vaccines could be chosen for oneself, food came from animals and plants grown in soil, and our bodies functioned well into our twilight years? Will future generations know that only a generation or two back, dementia and alzheimers were rarities and cancer was rarely heard of? In just short of 100 years, our whole world has been rewritten. We’re watching now as they write again.
Sometimes I look around this old farm, at the fields and the rock piles that hold great mounds of mammoth boulders that were once laboriously picked, one by one, by human hands, from the earth. Thousands upon thousands of them, most I can’t even budge. Could we do that now? My grandparents escaped communism to move to Canada. They came to this country and were dropped off on raw land. They were told to have at it. They had to jointly build their homes and barns and farm with nothing but ingenuity with the people in their community. They had nothing, absolutely nothing, surviving frigid Manitoba winters with an army of kids in tow. How many of us could do that today?
We aren’t the same as we were. What are we going to be? How long will it take to rewrite us?
It’s why I have come to this place I’m in. A time of deep reflection around what I believe and what I share. On one hand, my authentic belief in the messaging around small farms and regenerative agriculture is playing right into their hands. It’s fodder for a rejection of animal foods for those that truly cannot move beyond their restricted budgets.
On the other hand, saying “just eat animal foods, they’re all great, no worries” worries me, too. It’s a vote of confidence for a system that doesn’t deserve it. I can’t endorse a system that will continue to suck those last precious drops of life from its host before leaving its corpse behind when the churning factories start pumping out the crickets and pseudo-flesh.
They win if they lose.
Like so much of what’s happening in the world right now, we are left with a choice between the “best of all evils”. That itself tells you much about the time we’re in. All roads lead to gilded glory for the kings and the sleepy peasants follow the sound of the music straight off the cliff. But, we are in this time, we most definitely are. We mustn’t bury our head in the sand and live in some euphoric delusion of what we want to be when it isn’t.
I’m okay. We’ve worked our tails off to have the best food in the world right here on our farm, but that is nothing without my fellow humans alongside. We can do what we can as individuals, but we are all connected despite the illusion of ‘other’. What if that single mama in Toronto can’t buy her children some beef or a glass of whole milk or a cucumber grown in real soil because I have unwittingly joined the mass propaganda driving out those options for her? Are we all better off when she makes the only decision possible for nourishing her children - a pressed canola oil pea protein cake and some laboratory concoction subbing in for milk? Is she better off? Her children? Our society? Our descendants? The future of this gorgeous planet?
This is me looking at the chess board, scratching my head and realizing all I can really do is stall before the checkmate is called. I need to slow things down. Speak with a little more care. Think with a little more nuance. Preserve the food of life for all of life.
Small farms are more integral than ever. Corporate owned, system dependant farms have enjoyed decades of financial support and profits while the smaller farms have struggled. The big producers, following the dictate “go big or go home”, gobbled up small farms and spread their commodity seeds in long endless rows of sameness. Now, they, too, will be turned upon. There are no loyalties in the building of the rich. There will be some big players that will continue on with their growing of mono crop soy, corn, and peas that will feed into the “plant based” processors, but that too will soon fade away as windowless factories grow cell duplicating creations in tanks and call it food.
As we shift into the technocratic utopia, it’s the small farms that will be our only hope and real resistance. Preservation of heritage animals. Preservation of fading skills and traditions. Preservation of ways of being and connecting that are being erased from our knowing. Preservation of our connection to our ancestors and our humanity. The great underground nutrition rebellion will trade contraband eggs and the life giving nutrients only a ruminant can gift us.
Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It's not about nutrients and calories. It's about sharing. It's about honesty. It's about identity. - Louise Fresco
It’s going to get harder and more controlled because the profits cannot be dented by healthy heretics. More propaganda will be slung about pointing out the murderous amongst us willing to eat the flesh of a living thing. The elite will shine spotlights on ancient truths as if they’re barbaric, insisting “Beyond Burger” will save us all while they dine on prime rib. It’s happening now.
So, yes, it is absolutely essential that we preserve the small farm, but it’s not an either/or anymore. Well, it is, only it’s not small farm vs. factory farm as I said back at my speech in 2004. It’s real food vs. man made food. The food that God gave us vs. the perverse manipulation of chemicals and fragments of cells by man. People must understand the necessity of precious animal foods in their diets and what, exactly, is driving the plant based narrative. It is not a dreadlocked vegan in a tie-dye t-shirt. It’s a corporate monolith that wants to trade our future on this planet for their relentless hunger for power and money.
My decision has been made. I need to be more careful around the demonization of the bigger farms that feed the grocery stores that feed many people. That doesn’t dilute my opinion. We can do so much better. I still think we should and I will forever advocate for such. But if in condemning the factory farming system I am inadvertently endorsing its end in order to make room for foods that are not foods at all, I don’t see how that’s any better? If the culmination of our efforts to end factory farming means the eaters of tomorrow have a choice between $30/lb ground beef or a $2/lb pink slurry in a steak shape, have I helped? Who, exactly, have I helped?
Small farms still hold my hope. But the dark days are getting longer. We need to have a bird’s eye view of the game that is afoot. We need to be careful and nuanced with our perspective, our position, and our words. It’s a brave new world, indeed.
Moving forward, I will stick with what I believe will be the only solution to our food/nutrition/health problems: eating animal foods and plants given life by the miracles of soil, sunlight, water, and organisms too bountiful to count. The very foods our species have evolved on and interconnected with since the dawn of time . Eat the foods from your local area. Eat them seasonally. Grow all the food you can. Know your small farmers. Become your own. Support regenerative agriculture because it is all of our duties to ensure future generations can live lives worth living as free, nourished, sovereign human beings.
But if you can’t… Still eat animal foods. Your body knows what they are. Eat the best you can afford. Eat them and bless them with a prayer of gratitude for their nourishment. Eat the food your body can recognize with a grateful heart.
Eating the traditional, nourishing foods, recognized by our ancestors, is powerful advocacy in the ‘upside down’. So advocate! We must! It’s all on the line.
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