Thursday, March 3, 2011

Non vegetarian potatoes and the Farm Conference

A banner at the conference
Non-vegetarian potatoes? What does this have to do with the Tampa Commodity Classic Farm Conference? Well nothing, other than the need for farmers to get out and educate people about  what we do.  But this is the story that the Farmer (Joe) and I learned of from our farmer friend Eric who met us at the hotel shortly after we checked in.

So let me tell you about my day on Wednesday. First let me explain about the farm conferences. Besides the lure of sun and warmth (after leaving amidst a snow storm that had dumped 12” of snow before we left) this is like “continuing education” for us, plus farmers like the eye candy with all the biggest and best farm equipment on display. If it’s one thing I have found out about being a farm-wife, farmers love equipment.

The Farmer by one of his favorite pieces of equipment

This conference caters to the many kinds of farmers, as the region in where your farm is located dictates what kinds of crops are best suited to grow on your farm. So along with us, the farmers who grow the grains, legumes, corn, soybeans, and sorghum are here.

As the farmers were descending upon the unsuspecting Floridians, our friend Eric had a great story to tell about his taxi driver. The driver after learning Eric was a real farmer, asked if it was true about farmers genetically trying to infuse chicken genes into potatoes. Yikes, this got me to thinking and two troubling thoughts came to mind, first that crazy mis-information can be spread so easily and secondly that the taxi driver believed this to be true. Eric reassured the driver that no, this was not something that was being done, and went onto explain the GMOs (genetically modified organisms) were not evil and bad as many would like you to believe. The intent of genetically engineered plants is to help the plant defend itself from insects that harm the plant, sort of like inoculating your child against diseases. Nature has been modifying plants for thousands of years and with today’s technology scientists are helping to boost the plant's ability to ward off harmful insects.  Thus, the need for insecticides can be reduced or perhaps eliminated, so it is a win for all. I would like to think that educating the consumer about GMOs will help ease their concerns and to not believe all the hype that is being disseminated. I wanted to share an interesting article about organic farmers and their reluctance on using genetically engineered plants. Here is an excerpt from that article, “Pamela Ronald, a plant biologist at the University of California, Davis, says those consumers are losing track of what's most important. Ronald has a foot on each side of the biotech wars — she works with genetically engineered plants in the laboratory, and she's married to a longtime organic farmer. She and her husband together wrote the book Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food. What really is important is, can we reduce the use of insecticides? Can we foster soil fertility? Can we feed the poor and malnourished?" she says. Those should be the goals of organic farming, she says, and they should be the goals of non-organic farming, too. According to Ronald, they're much more significant than avoiding laboratory-spliced genes.” So there you have it, consumers, organic and non-organic farmers can and should be comfortable about the use of genetically engineered plants whether in your food or the food that an animal consumes, and if you want to read the article for yourself, here is the link: . Remember we, who grow the food, also eat what you eat and as a mom and wife, I do not have concerns about GMO modified crops - it’s just in a new packaging, sort of the “new and improved” version. Feel better? I hope so, but then again, the chicken and potato cross got me to thinking…. Now if you could infuse flour, butter, maybe incorporate some vegetables genes…. Hmmm a natural chicken pot pie – what do you think???

Yup, that's me by a cool display
As always, hope you enjoyed the blog and it you have any questions, please email me at and I will do my best to answer you. Best Regards, Gayle