Stop worrying about GMOs; it’s that organic granola bar that could make you sick via the Los Angeles Times
[excuse the lengthy quote]
“In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”
These words from Chesterton have been among the most influential in how I view and approach food and agriculture. When it comes to making decisions about ag and our food, we quickly remove the fences (pesticide use, GMOs, etc…) without asking the questions of why they’re there. Or worse, we believe we don’t need to ask those who constructed the fences because we assume we know the answer (ag business is greedy, modern farmers are lazy, etc…).
Today’s article draws attention to a few of the food and ag fences our culture has been quick to tear down. He shows us why those fences were constructed in the first place, and why they’re still needed. Take this description of pesticides for example:
Modern science has designed far better pesticides than neem oil [a natural pesticide] that are safer, more targeted and much more effective at significantly lower concentrations. Modern pesticide seed treatments, for example, mean that crops can sometimes be grown with little, if any, need for spraying plants.
It’s easy to hop on bandwagons, latch on to food trends and accept nostalgia for the agriculture of yesteryear. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I love me a good CSA box and farm-to-table dinner. But the problem comes when we start tearing fences that we deem unnecessary to our lives, but in fact serve an important role in our society if we’re willing to dig past the surface and ask questions.
You have the ability to keep or tear down fences based on your voting, buying choices, conversations with family, friends and colleagues. There’s nothing wrong with tearing down a fence, but remember that your decisions and actions will have repercussions for others and the future. Choose wisely.