Respect. What is it? My Thesaurus defines it as; to feel or show admiration and deference toward somebody or something. Another definition is; to pay due attention to and refrain from violating something. I like both of those and it is our foremost desire to portray these definitions of respect on our farm and in our interaction with the consumers of our farm’s yield. True respect is a rare virtue in today’s world. Respect in food production would entail not only respect for the earth and its inherent production capacity, but respect for all things natural, respect for the animals raised for food, and above all, respect for the end user—the consumer. Farming and food production has become a study of rampant dominion that is lorded by whoever can devise new ways of dominating soil, livestock, and food via chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and genetic prostitution. Accolades are given to the brightest and the best in concocting of new additives and enhancers in laboratory science—for the sake of creating so-called food that tastes acceptable to the consuming populace. I know, this is turning out to be a true-blue tirade against Big Food—not what I had in mind when I started on this subject. But I’m a spontaneous writer.

The proponents of GMO’s in food and farming claim their product is no different than its non-GMO counterpart, and that no ill effects to human or animal health are caused by genetically modified food and feeds. It may true that no true science is available documenting the ill effects of GMO’s, but then again, we must realize that just because the science community fails to produce scientific evidence doesn’t say a threat can’t exist. Just saying… Here in the US the GMO experiment (my terminology) is now going on 25 years, and we have unprecedented infectious and autoimmune disease statistics among us. That’s an open-ended statement, I know. Whether or not the bio-tech community is right about GMO safety, the question remains at large; are GMO’s safe or are they not. Twenty five years of experimentation on the American population carries quite a bit of weight. Shall we err on the side of safety or on the side of risk? Is it respectful to propagate a potentially risky product to a world of unassuming consumers? Here’s an analogy I would like to present to proponents of GMO’s.

Me: If you knew a certain restaurant—one you’re really fond of—mixed a portion of opossum meat to their burgers, would you eat there? If you did, would you order burger?

Mr. GMO:  I wouldn’t eat there again.

Me: Why not? What’s wrong with opossum?

Mr. GMO: I don’t know. It’s… it’s just that I don’t think I would like it.

Me: What about all the burgers you had there already. Were they good? Did you get sick?

Mr. GMO: No, but…. I just don’t want a burger with opossum in it.

In all honesty, this was not a real-time conversation, and Edwin Shank from The Family Cow gets credit for coming up with it. He spoke at our annual southeast PA grazing conference last week and presented it. I’m not sure that my writing is exactly as he presented it but nevertheless, it brings out the fact that most Americans distrust genetically modified foods (opossum), and if they had a choice they wouldn’t eat it. If you want to see the numbers for yourself, google “what percentage of Americans distrust GMO’s”, and see all the different polls that have been conducted on the subject. According to an ABC poll, 93% of Americans think they should be labeled, and yet all rulings to that extent have been overthrown. Respect? I don’t think so.

The same goes for the raw milk issue, which I thought is resolved once and for all in Pennsylvania. But in last week’s Lancaster Farming, a Bruce Krupke, representing Northeast Dairy Foods Association wrote a scathing—and senseless—letter to the editor condemning raw milk, and suggesting it be banned in PA. I claim to be a pacifist to politics, but I admit that the letter made my blood pressure rise. I don’t know if it’s because of the letter or not, but Lancaster Farming is dedicating their weekly poll to raw milk this week. I don’t usually pay attention to their polls, but I voted this week, and if want to participate, go to How do you feel about raw milk and give them your opinion. Let’s outnumber the monopolizing political naysayers. Let’s stand together for earth respect, food respect, people respect, and community respect. And maybe, just maybe we’ll gain a bit of respect from the opposition. And that’s the View from the Country.

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