I recently went back to Iowa to visit my parents. While sitting around the dinner table, my mother brought up our old summer trips to the farmers’ market. In past summers, my parents and I would frequent the large downtown farmer’s market on the weekend. It’s something we all enjoy–my mom likes buying fresh produce, I like sampling wines and buying home-baked goods, and my dad likes to camp out at the breakfast burrito stand.
This farmers’ market has all sorts of food from a variety of sources. There are organic, naturally-grown, and conventionally-grown vegetables and fruits.
Why does a local farmers’ market have so many choices? The reason for the variety is that farmers don’t all farm on the same land with the same resources. Each farmer is an individual with individual needs.
For some farmers, organic farming works best for them. They have the resources and the market for it. I’ve met a couple all-natural farmers that are organic for all intents and purposes but they don’t want to go through the certification process.
Then there are those that are conventional growers. Conventional growing often gets confused with biotechnology or genetically-enhanced crops; however, conventional growers do not necessarily use biotechnology, although some do. The use of biotechnology depends on the crop, the land and the farmer’s resources.
Another common misconception concerning conventional farming is that it is not an eco-friendly form of farming; but, conventional farmers often employ sustainable farming practices and this trend is growing. Often conventional growers have found that biotechnology can aid a farming operation in becoming more environmentally friendly–allowing them to use no-till practices which reduces erosion and leaching.
In some circumstances (depending heavily on the crop) organic farming can use far more resources than conventional or biotech operations, although that’s not always the case. It should be noted, however, that biotech crops are typically corn, soy and cotton which are used in other products and not sold directly to consumers. While there are some biotech crops on the food market (sweet corn) you are unlikely to run into many biotech crops at a farmers’ market.
Conventional and organic farming both exist for different reasons. Some farmers even grow conventional and organic crops on the same operation. In my opinion, the two will always balance each other out–if organic isn’t possible or profitable for a farmer then they will use conventional methods and vice-versa. Monsanto knows this and so do the employees here.
Once in a blue moon I will stumble across a conspiracy blog that claims that Monsanto is in business to force our products on all farms and it’s just not the case. Monsanto is a 100 percent agriculture company; we understand farmers and several of us are farmers, so we know that biotechnology is not everyone’s choice.
Agriculture could not survive as a 100 percent organic production industry nor can biotechnology provide the same benefit to every farmer. So farmers will continue to choose the farming practices that work best for them.
And me? Regardless of how my food is produced it still tastes amazing (especially in the form of home-made corn muffins bought from the farmers’ market in my old hometown).
Kate works on the corporate website for Monsanto in the public affairs department. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Truman State University. Kate grew up in an Air Force family and has lived in sevaral states and countries but spent the majority of her childhood growing up in Iowa. Kate enjoys art and photography as well as horseback riding.