By Sam Fisher, farmer
Due to the intensive labor component required prior to the invention of mechanical planting and harvesting equipment, grain was a precious commodity used only in moderate quantities. But with the arrival of the moldboard plow, the reaper, the threshing machine, and later combines and tractors, which made planting and harvesting possible on a vast scale, grain has become cheap, readily available, and permeates the majority of the western world’s diet.
When I was growing up my Dad used to say, “Bread is the staff of life!” And it may have been true in generations past, but due to selection and hybridization, the grain of today is different from the grain our parents and grandparents ate. Wheat, for example, has for the last several decades been selected for a larger seed head and a shorter stem, simply to better accommodate mechanical harvesters’ ad combines. While most small grain (wheat, barley, oats, etc.) have not yet been trans-genetically modified, the on-going selection and breeding process to represent a certain phenotype has effectively altered the chromosome and enzymatic makeup, all at the cost of nutrition and plant balance.
Also, many commercial wheat farmers now spray their mature wheat crop with Roundup (or a similar glyphosate based broad spectrum herbicide) within two weeks of harvest to initiate dry down in the field. Let’s remember, this is a crop used primarily for human consumption that is being sprayed with a substance toxic enough to kill it, just prior to harvesting. And because of the gulf between production and consumption, most Americans have no clue of the changes taking place in their food supply.
With all that being said, we haven’t mentioned the tremendous toll production annual grains have on our soils due to the implementation of herbicides and other toxins used in no-till small grain production. Neither have we mentioned the collective damage that acres of mono-cultures have on the ecosystem.
The good news is that we have alternatives. We have available information on a grand scale if we are able to differentiate between truth and propaganda. We have an increasing number of people taking responsibility for their buying choices and the direct and/or indirect consequences of them. That’s the View from the Country.
“The distance between your dreams and reality is called action.” ~ Unknown
Sam fisher is a farmer with his wife at Freedom Acres Farm in Honey Brook, PA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.