Son of a Farmer

“Everything is connected. That bond is what keeps this Planet dancing round in poetic choreography. That connection is what keeps us all alive. What we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. If we are capable of destruction, we are most certainly capable of healing. ” – Eric Herm

Eric Herm, (organic farmer, author, activist and musician) translates modern day agriculture and life through various mediums and venues in his own unique West Texas manner. With plow, pen, guitar and sarcastic wit, Herm plunges forward into a world of tumbleweeds, sandstorms, droughts, GMOs, and rural existence.

Everybody Eats

As humans, we tend to forget our bond with the rest of living creatures within Nature. Despite our magical tendencies of driving shiny automobiles, donning the latest fashion, constructing extravagant cities, or making full-use of opposable thumbs, we’re really no different than the rest of Nature in the fact we all eat, drink, breathe, and sleep.

The magical recipe of thriving human health is really quite basic: healthy food and water, regular exercise, sufficient rest, and minimum stress are major steps affording us a higher-quality life. Nature is no different. Plants, trees, and the soil are all living, breathing creatures in need of food (humus), water (rain), and exercise (sunshine), rest, as well as minimum stress. Everybody eats. So too does every living thing.

Knowing this, why would we willingly continue to feed toxic chemicals to our food and fiber crops? In commercial agriculture, we bombard our fields and crops with herbicides, pesticides, and genetically-modified (GM) crops without fully accepting the responsibilities or repercussions. Poison is the main ingredient in commercial agriculture’s recipe. In 2007, more than 2 billion pounds of herbicide were used worldwide, one-fourth (541 million pounds) were used in the United States. Globally, we spent more than $14 billion and over $5 billion in the U.S. just on herbicides alone, according to an FDA report. America also purchased more than 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides in 2007, totaling more than $12.5 billion in sales.

We’re planting more than 100 million acres of GM (genetically-modified) crops each year. In 2011, major commodity crops such as corn, cotton, canola and soybeans are now 90 percent genetically-modified. Those numbers are increasing while more than 30 countries across the globe have banned GMOs altogether. Yet in America, our own President Obama appoints a former Monsanto big wig (Michael Taylor) as the Food Czar of the FDA.

GM food tastes awful compared to organic or natural crops. Would we rather enjoy cheap, nutrition-less food that tastes like the south end of a north-bound skunk or a higher-priced, high-quality bounty of nature that will replenish us with more vitamins and minerals? When we pay less for compromised food, we end up paying more in doctor visits, prescriptions, and other healthcare costs. Everything is linked. We are what we eat, thus impacting every other aspect of our lives.

Most people have no clue what GMOs or GM food and crops are. It is essentially fake food and seed. They are organisms that have been injected with genes from another living organism, allowing them to resist certain insects and sustain herbicides such as Roundup. The active ingredient is glyphosate, which is proving to cause further damage to not only the soil but livestock that eat the GM feed from these crops. We’re poisoning the animals we eat – beef, pork, chicken – they are all eating 90 percent a genetically-modified diet. What we are cooking at home and barbequing on the weekends for our friends and family is essentially poisoned meat.

As a fourth generation farmer, I’ve seen firsthand the destruction of this disastrous recipe. We have more weeds and insects issues than ever, accompanied by more soil-degradation due to mono-cropping, excessive chemicals, and GMO (genetically-modified organism) production. Chemical companies are running agriculture now. We’ve created billion-dollar corporations that do not need to exist because we’re buying products that weaken our fields and crops, creating the need for more products to overcome the diseases and malnourishment they cause.

We continue to treat long-term problems with short-term solutions. In the process, we’re making billion-dollar companies out of the likes of Monsanto, Bayer Crop Science, DuPont, Dow Chemical and Syngenta. Meanwhile, farmers continue to go out of business. There remain less than one million farmers in America, representing a fraction of one percent of the total population. We’re attempting to feed and clothe more than 350 million people each year with this corrupt system.

It is critical we all get involved with our food. That starts with educating ourselves about what we are eating, where it comes from, and whether or not it is genetically-modified. We have to read labels at grocery stores, find out the ingredients in these foods and avoid the ones with genetically-modified ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup.

Buying local, organic food as much as possible helps support our local community’s economy, as well as supporting our family’s health and local farmers. We need to get involved with our local food coops, farmers markets, community gardens, pick-your-own gardens, or whatever is available in our communities. More people need to be growing their own food to help support a more sustainable lifestyle.

National organizations also need our support such as the Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Association, and others help fight important legislation battles. The Organic and Non-GMO Report is a wonderful source that keeps us involved with what’s happening with our food. Many books are also available such as Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth (shameless plug) that inform readers about GMOs, providing endless resources.

An incredibly important event is coming up this October. The Right 2 Know March begins in Brooklyn, New York, on October 1st, as hundreds of thousands of people are expected to march more than two weeks all the way to Washington D.C. on October 15th and 16th in front of the nation’s capital. We are promoting GMO awareness and demanding GM foods be labeled. (www.right2knowmarch.org)

This farmer will be there for this historical event. We are all impacted by Nature, by our food supply. Everybody eats. Now, everybody just needs to get involved.