The idea that by simply nodding our heads and smugly lining up behind “alternative” producers, consumers can flip a switch and drastically shift the dynamics of food production, without regard for labor costs (and availability), land use, access to capital and marketing constraints is the height of delusion.
Don’t get me wrong: I agree with a lot of the ideas spotlighted in FRESH. We need to address the loss of agricultural diversity. We need to expand alternative markets and niche products if the next generation of farmers is to gain access to the profession. And we certainly need to restructure federal farm support to promote those goals, instead of focusing almost exclusively on commodity crops.
But if a college education is supposed to turn adolescents into intelligent, perceptive adults capable of understanding of complex issues beyond mere platitudes and talking points, the class session I attended would have to be graded F.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.