RAN singled out specific events as successes, including a 40-person seed exchange at the New York Stock Exchange, building a community garden in Oakland, Calif., placing stickers on genetically modified foods at more than 20 Safeway and Whole Foods grocery stores across the country. Wow, they even lashed out at Whole Foods—now, that shows you nothing is sacred. More than 100 people in Wayzata, Minn., convened a “Cargill call-in day” to the company’s chief executive officer, Greg Page, demanding changes in company practices and priorities.
One of this Occupy movement’s reoccurring themes is that today’s food system is “structured for short-term profit instead of the long-term health of people and the planet.” Wait a minute, I know that major food companies, associations, scientists and others are spending a lot of time, money and energy researching and looking for answers to the future challenge of feeding 9 billion people globally in less than 40 years. Where is that priority on Occupy our Food Supply’s list?
Forty people handing out seed packets in New York City is not a pathway to future global food security.
Still, don’t write off this Occupy effort just yet; it could start out small and grow. I would point to the recent efforts to further expose the Chinese labor issues that are linked with Apple's products such as the I-Phone, I-Pod and I-Pad. While sales of Apple products haven’t suffered yet, a widespread movement pushed by Internet, email and social media efforts has generated hundreds of thousands (or more) supporters and gotten serious traction. Supposedly Microsoft will make changes in its labor structure.
So Occupy our Food Supply’s lack of success (my perspective, not theirs) could mean that the topic isn’t right, the concept isn’t right or that the timing isn’t right. It does not mean that the activists and issues surrounding “Big Food” will go away. There are more plans in the works, including “Occupy the Midwest,” which is set for March 15-18, at Kiener Place in St. Louis.
Even if it doesn’t get big traction, the Occupy our Food Supply movement feeds the smoldering doubt about our food supply that much of the public carries today. John-Q Public lacks understanding regarding food production, the food chain, its many benefits, as well as the unintended consequences some of the proposed ideas would cause. What’s more, John-Q public en masse doesn’t want to grow food or process food, but wants to feel a certain way about the food he/she eats.
In the end, whether the label is Big Food or Big Ag, the image and challenges such a movement presents all trickle down to further discolor the face of agriculture, the farm -- and you as a farm business person.