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Monday, June 20, 2011

A cattlewoman's trip to the farmer's market

Growing up in Nebraska and attending college in Kansas... and then moving to Washington D.C. presents a study in contrasts. DC is split up into smaller districts within itself and through the magic of Craig's List I managed to accidentally find housing in the "hippy area" of Takoma Park. As you can imagine, there aren't many square-toed boots to be seen and Cinch shirts are unheard of, in fact, Tom's Shoes and tie-dye seems to have replaced them. I live with some really great people who are very, VERY removed from agriculture and they have found my animal science degree a fascination. My land-lady was amazed by how chicken eggs are produced and how fertilization occurs, she was also surprised to know that just because the eggs she buys at the farmer's market on Sundays for 5 dollars a dozen are organic, that doesn't mean the chickens are free-range. I attended the Takoma Farmer's Market yesterday and couldn't help but laugh a bit at the premium prices people were willing to pay for "hormone free" eggs. Nothing is "hormone free" if it comes from any kind of living organism... and additionally hormones are illegal to be fed to chickens (even though they would have zero benefit to growth or productivity). My roommates had told me that pretty much everything in the market was organic and that people were willing to pay the extra money for the perceived health benefits from consuming those foods, but after asking couple vendors I quickly found that only one of them was actually certified organic. For many of the smaller producers it is just too expensive to be certified so they advertise with words like "ecoganic" and "raised in an organic style." Either way, these are small, many times very young farmers who probably could not make it in the DC area using conventional farming methods. They have found an ingenious niche market among the urban, health savvy, green generation and they intend to develop their market share. In an age of incredible competition to maintain oneself on the right side of the bottom line there has been much discussion of Organic vs. Conventional. In reality there is plenty of room for both. There is no way that these small farmers who charge exorbitant prices can begin to feed billions of hungry people, but on a sunny Sunday afternoon they seem to be doing just fine catering to the wants of a specialized group of consumers. Through cooperation and mutual advocating conventional farming practices and organic methods can help to provide a career path for a new generation of agriculturalists interested in feeding the world.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post. What an awesome opportunity you'll have this summer to share agriculture with others. It amazes me at the marketing terms people come up with.



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