Vail Daily letter: Know your food
Ryan Summerlin February 7, 2013
As a frequent guest in the Vail Valley, I have become an avid reader of the Vail Daily. I enjoyed the article about organic foods and the problems with the label “certified organic.”
I am a farmer from Illinois and the fifth generation on our centennial farm, a practicing farmer for 45 years and an accredited farm manager. I would like to assure consumers of food that there are many sustainable methods of farming other than and arguably superior to organic farming.
There are many attributes of organic farming that are admirable, but as the article pointed out, organic production is largely carried out by large corporate entities and is a marketing tool, not a lifestyle.
To a certain degree, marketing of food is a zero sum game. As consumer groups demand more organic foods (which generally yield 20-60 percent less), more land is devoted to the most profitable production.
Currently, world agriculture is able to keep up with the growing demand for food, not just in the Vail Valley, but also in areas less affluent.
The article also stressed the need to “know your farmer.” I agree with this concept, but my acquaintance of farmers in the Vail Valley is limited (actually I know of zero farmers here). Less than 2 percent of the U.S. population are farmers, and it may be difficult for everyone to get to know and trust an actual farmer.
I encourage everyone to know their food and demand quality food, but please be careful of the conditions that you impose on other farmers and consumers.