In Ajo, we learned about farming, ate some great food, and enjoyed some prickly pear lemonade!
On Thursday, we began bright and early with a talk by a small-scale farmer and a Native American quite passionate about promoting traditional foods. As we sat at the table, we got to try some tepary beans, “old fashioned granola,” and spicy things (I think they were dried chilis, but not 100 percent sure). The foods tasted very good to me! In regard to the small-scale farming, I saw a lot of positivity. For starters, I believe that people who farm have a greater appreciation for the natural world and the food they have to eat, and secondly, endeavors such as these are great for bringing local communities together!
However, I would be lying if I told you that I do not have reservations about small-scale / traditional farming. First, the food that is harvested requires much more labor than what is needed on a giant cornfield in Kansas. Furthermore, the prices of locally grown food are EXTREMELY high. The flower pictured above costs 12 dollars. While I think it is great that local farmers encourage people to eat healthier, many people would not be able to consume enough calories even if they dedicated their whole food budget to foods such as the flower pictures above.
I don’t mean to spread negativity in this post; however, this is what I thought during the food tour, and I want my blogging to be an accurate reflection of who I am.
3 Replies to “Blog Post 6 – Small Scale Farming”
You have good thoughts on both sides of this issue, and so my biggest question is do you think that having more people involved in small-scale farming (not bigger farms, but bigger participation) would lower the economic obstacle of desert agriculture and market?
I believe that more community involvement could potentially raise the food stock. However, such farming costs lots of money, and I don’t think many would want to buy such expensive food.
Jacob, you make some excellent points here and I share a lot of your skepticism. Its very hard to compete with large scale farming and eschewing any help from tractors or tillers makes it even harder. However, Abby is also raising a good point about participation and the benefits of that.
I would suggest that we think about costs and benefits as broadly as possible. Small scale labor intensive farming may have some benefits to those who are involved in production that are not experienced by workers on industrial sized farms – particular the health benefits of physical labor. There are limits to that of course, but most people are getting far too little exercise, not too much. Also large scale industrial farming has many external costs which do not show up in the price of the food (unsustainable groundwater draws, pollution, etc).
Overall, however, I would still be skeptical that even a very thoughtful and cost benefit analysis that took into account all the positive and negative spill-over effects would find that producing beans in small plot by hand is better. That said, there may be elements of their production methods that are superior.