I enjoy learning. I enjoy a challenge. I also LOVE to “stir the pot” or “push the envelope”. Mainly because this is how I learn best. Getting outside my comfort zone often forces me to think about a subject in a way I never considered before, which usually leads me to a new point of view. This method of learning isn’t always easy for people, but like that Thomas Dewey quote says, “Minds are like parachutes – they only function when open.”
As many of my readers are aware, I’ve been on a quest lately. This quest involves one of our local papers, the Chico News and Review. For as long as I can remember, they have held an “alternative” view about agriculture. Maybe “alternative” isn’t the best word to use, perhaps “negative” would be a better word? Regardless, we are entering our third week of publicly asking CN&R to do their due diligence and report the facts when they talk about agriculture – unfortunately it looks like we are getting the opposite effect.
One of my biggest “beefs” (lol, get it?!), are the sources CN&R use in their paper, in regards to agriculture. They are less then awesome, factual, or science based. For example, I’m willing to bet Farm Sanctuary is not going to provide the best, fact based, and relevant information when it comes to animal agriculture. Same with Grist.com, in all of my many years in agriculture I’ve never once found myself saying to the cowboy next to me, “did you read that well done, fact based article about cattle production in Grist?”
I think a great example of what I am talking about here can be found in this week’s edition of the CN&R. Instead of doing any independent research about the topic, or even verifying the validity of the reported information (you know, like calling the plant that makes LFTB, or interviewing the meat scientists that made themselves available to her), Ms. LaPado regurgitated less than factual information from other media sources. She didn’t even research what LFTB actually looks like, she used a stock picture of mechanically separated meat (MSM), which is chicken. Chickens (poultry) and cows (beef) are two different species, Ms. LaPado.
It’s sad, and I hope I mis-read this, but in a way, I feel like Ms. Lapado’s column tried to “slime” our local butcher shop, Chico Locker and Sausage. This might be a good time to remind Ms. LaPado how supportive Chico Locker is to our local community. Chico Locker has always been very generous with their knowledge and time. In addition to giving demonstrations to our local Weston Price Foundation, they are also incredibly supportive of our local 4-H and FFA groups. They also are one of the few family operated slaughterhouses in our area. Without Chico Locker, this community of local farmers and ranchers would be in a world of pain. My point is, this is a local business that rallies around our community. Trying to portray Chico Locker as the bad guy for providing truthful information to our community, is just wrong and in really poor taste.
The other article that grabbed my attention immediately was about GMO labeling. Well, in addition to a letter to the editor that supports GMO labeling. California is being threatened with potential legislation that would require labels on food that contain GMO ingredients. The article states that Safeway refused to allow paid signature gatherers to harass their customers. The article didn’t mention that Trader Joe’s did the same thing. Or that food labeled organic is already GMO free. Or that forcing us to label GMO food will make food more expensive. Or that GMO food has been proven safe again and again.
Heck, I even asked the CN&R if they called the manager of Safeway to get their side of the story. And I asked why they didn’t include Trader Joe’s in the article, because they did the same thing. No one responded.
Like I mentioned above, we’ve had this little movement going for a couple of weeks now. And it seems to me that the CN&R is enjoying this, it’s like a game to them. They don’t seem to care that beef prices are down, hurting family farmers like me, they don’t seem to care that people are out of jobs because beef plants are closing down. They don’t seem to care that there are repercussions from their actions. That really scares and concerns me.
Butte County’s main source of venue is agriculture. We have two agricultural colleges. Hundreds of family farmers and ranchers live, work and die here. So this makes me question – what is behind CN&R’s response?