Friends and Farmers
Will life be sweeter if we are personally acquainted with the guy who made our bathtub?
Most people have no desire for better knowledge of the workers who did their plumbing or built their garages. (Or who put together their carports, as the case may be.) Those workers contribute to our economy just like farmers do. So why does the USDA single out farmers for us to associate with?
Curlee wisely observes that even if you want to know your farmer, your farmer might not want to know you. Farmers, after all, are busy people with lives of their own. I agree. It’s patronizing of the USDA to assume that farmers want closer acquaintanceship with all the final consumers of their produce, as if farmers had infinite free time or lacked friends.
After reading the many sensible things Curlee says, I’m confused by this statement toward the end of the column:
Somebody at the USDA deserves credit for encouraging a closer relationship between food producers and food consumers.
People should feel free to cultivate relationships based on shared interests, ideas, and personalities — but you shouldn’t have to hang out with someone just because chance juxtaposed the two of you on the food supply chain.
It’s wrong for a federal agency to endorse farmers as uniquely worthy of friendship. For the same reasons, I’m opposed when Missouri schools present this ideology to children as an unchallenged truth.