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Random thoughts from a not-so-random month

Since I can’t seem to keep my thoughts focused on just one topic these days, I reasoned the practical thing to do might be to offer up a few random notions that recently have caught my attention.


September 22, 2008
By Ralph Pearce

Since I can’t seem to keep my thoughts focused on just one topic these days, I reasoned the practical thing to do might be to offer up a few random notions that recently have caught my attention.
 
On the Body Politic….
Normally I wouldn’t think to offer up a political opinion on either the US Presidential race -is it over yet? -or the relatively quick Canadian campaign -is it over yet? So I won’t. All I’ll say is that in a year where there has been an unprecedented amount of coverage geared to farming issues and agri-business, the newspapers and broadcasters have gone back to their old ways with a federal election on the front burner. I guess the mental meanderings of Messrs. Harper, Dion, Layton, Duceppe and Ms. May are harder to ignore than the straightforward and practical thought processes of a bunch of farmers. Never mind that the fast-approaching era of agricultural prominence -and we are all of us standing on its brink -will eclipse and outshine the next government or that in the near future, for that matter.

Agriculture is going to be big, in ways that very few can even grasp at this point in time. And the mainstream media? They still don’t get it. Perhaps they never will.
 
And speaking of not ‘getting it’…..
I read with my usual veneer of distrust, a story bearing the Canadian Press symbol about biotechnology pushing wheat off the Great Plains in the US. Unless CP pried open its wallet to spring for a bureau office in Wichita, Kansas, the story was obviously written by the Associated Press. But more disappointing still was the story’s anti-biotech slant, noting that it has been its application in corn hybrids and soybean varieties that have made those crops more profitable than wheat. Nothing about the price of corn or soybeans being pushed to record heights by the actions of speculators and news of global food shortages.

I don’t pretend to know the mind of the individual where biotech is concerned, but I do know that farmers are not helpless and mindless peons at the mercy of greedy executives and corporate dictators. The plain truth is, if this technology didn’t pay, farmers would not use it.

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How many times does that point have to be made to the helpless and mindless peons in the media -on both sides of the border? Coke, McDonalds, Tim Horton’s and Molson are all free of the ‘corporate greed’ epithets, and yet they represent substantial empires, if not near-monopolies of their own, and no one begrudges them their license to print money.
 
Why is it different in agriculture?
Grow local? Sure, but it depends…..
I’m not against the whole ‘Grow Local’ campaign that seems to be gripping the minds and pocketbooks of Ontarians, and I’m not sure if the same phenomenon is taking shape in the West. But I grow weary of the platitudes of fine food afficionados who coo smugly at their purchases of items that were grown within 100km of Toronto (granted, we are talking about a different world, here -the Greater Toronto Attitude, but the same is coming true I imagine for Vancouver, and Calgary can’t be far behind). Let’s see if they show the same air of superiority when they can’t buy their local treasures after November 1st. Unless they can find a way to make a Caesar salad out of onions, rutabagas, potatoes and carrots.
 
On a positive note…..
Small-town charm and generosity came to light on Sept. 13th in the little Ontario town of Thamesford. Two rock acts, not well known in Toronto or Calgary, but much-loved and respected in this community, donated their time and talents to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, with a benefit concert. About 150 people crammed into the town’s Royal Canadian Legion to listen to some home-spun rock and help out a good cause. A woman was trying to raise money to participate in the Nike Women’s Marathon, next month in San Francisco. She isn’t from Thamesford, but when the organizer heard she was running for the same cause that affected her nephew three years ago (he’s in remission, now), the call went out and the community came forward with their incredible support. Between the silent auction and a 50/50 draw, she raised enough to get her to the Golden Gate city, and contribute to research for her father, who’s being closely monitored for the onset of one of these blood cancers. The $2300 they raised may not sound like much, but when compared to the size of the town, its giving spirit and incredible generosity, it starts to look like a million dollars.

As the Wizard said to Dorothy, "Remember, a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others."

By the way, the woman going to San Francisco is my wife, Deb.