family album

It’s been a busy weekend, between unpacking more of Joe’s books & housewares and beginning my first assignments of the semester. I’ve barely left the apartment. Hell, I’ve barely showered. I have, however, made a few fun discoveries. I’ve found a recipe for pain au chocolat in a cookbook, which I fully intend to try my hand at tomorrow. (Remember, part of this blog is supposed to be recipes.) I’ve found how I always, always want to wear my hair. I’ve found what I want to sip on all fall. I’ve discovered that taking family photos that you are also posing in is quite entertaining.

My break from school work came in the form of a family portrait session. Joe’s sisters & their fiancés–yay, Fall 2012 weddings!–came for a visit & a chance to get us together for a sibling photo, at the request of their dad. Hopefully, we’ll look this gorgeous when we’re printed out on a huge scale & are hanging in the living room…

It wasn’t until they arrived for picture-taking that I realized I have no actual equipment, other than the camera. We looked around the apartment & realized that our kitchen stool, topped of with notebooks to angle the camera properly, would serve as our tripod.

It wasn’t until they arrived that I walked behind our building for the first time (notebooks, camera & “tripod” in hand). The alley behind our building turned out to be a lovely spot for pictures: a nice, brick backdrop; greenery on the other side; a picket fence we didn’t utilize; good afternoon sun. For most of the pictures, we were sans flash. Braxton, the toddler, is clearly amazed by our set-up & mad photography skills in the above photo.

Here’s a sample from the “shoot”:

We clean up well.

Tonight, we’re heading to a showing of Farmageddon, a movie that dives into the issue that made me want to study public policy–the issue I plan on spending the rest of my life working for. Let’s take a look at “What’s at Stake” (courtesy of the film’s web site):

Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasonably burdensome regulations. The film serves to put policymakers and regulators on notice that there is a growing movement of people aware that their freedom to choose the foods they want is in danger, a movement that is taking action with its dollars and its voting power to protect and preserve the dwindling number of family farms that are struggling to survive.

I’m excited to compare the film to Food, Inc.–a film I’ve been evangelizing since its DVD release. While Food, Inc. addresses the consequences of industrial farming, Farmageddon explains how our ability to work against industrial farming–to find natural, whole, from-the-farm counterparts–is slowly being pulled out from under us at the direct expense of family farms across the country.

I’m from a farming family. Though by the time I was born, my mom’s family had moved into town, I grew up with a strong understanding of what farming means to a community. Many of my friends grew up on farms; many of my family members would slip into stories of pranks pulled & adventures had in the barn or surrounding lands when we had family get-togethers. There are remnants of this passion for living from with the land throughout my family: an uncle that still works on farms; my grandma’s garden & her border collie, who spends the holidays herding the younger cousins.

The tradition of farming, tracing back through my family & many of the Midwest’s families, to our days in Germany & Ireland. Days when the fields weren’t just corn or soybeans planted to earn government subsidies. They were fields for the market, fields for the family, fields for the cold winter months. The percentage of farmers in the developed nations who grow enough food to feed their families is astonishing–astonishingly low. Large grain crops have replaced the vegetable gardens.

Luckily, these things are starting to come back, & films like Farmageddon are helping.

[Megan steps down from soap box.]

While my family went unscathed by the events of 9/11, I would like to take a second to call to mind those families forever changed ten years ago. I don’t think we fully understand how our world was shaped by those events, for better or worse, & I want to say that I feel humbled & gracious. A few days ago, Democracy Now brought “Understanding 9/11” to my attention.

The archive, Understanding 9/11, gathered videos from around the world to help enhance our understanding & the living history of 9/11. Take some time to look at how the rest of the world was affected, as well.

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About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
This entry was posted in being conscious, photo post and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to family album

  1. Ashley says:

    I love what you wrote :)))))

  2. unfinishedportraitofsam says:

    GREAT post, Meg. this is a tricky topic for me, because you know that while you and i agree completely on these issues (we’re with that “growing movement” of people, i think), i come from farming too. both the hobby kind (my mom’s side) and the commercial kind (Ben’s side)–both of which are “family farms.” because of that i wanted to add, if i may, some nuance to the language of this discussion (and Ben helped me out here with definitions):

    there are a couple of ways of identifying sizes and types of farms: industrial/family, commercial/specialty. industrial farms usually run more than 5,000 acres. my father-in-law’s runs more like 1,500. if you have about 2-10 employees, you’re probably a family farm because you have only only layer of management; you keep a VERY close eye on what’s going on with your product. much more than that, and you’re swaying into industrial size.
    commercial farms produce commercial crops: corn, soybeans, wheat–non human consumption / non-animal products. (you can have commercial animal crops too, like our friends who run a family dairy farm.) specialty farms produce specialty crops, like edible beans, mint, tomatoes, pumpkin, etc.

    hopefully i haven’t bored you, but having said that, here’s my point: i get a little confused and concerned when the discussions i hear/read on farming and food practices (how food makes its way to our table, as we see described in Food, Inc–great movie) seem to lack nuance in language and definition because of how it may affect the way we think about certain farmers/crops/operations unjustly.
    for example, my father-in-law plants and harvests those fields of commercial grain crops we’re talking about–corn, soybeans, etc. his fields are huge, though not as huge as some. but his is a family farm, both in size and in operation (his sons work it or help on it, and he has only one farmhand besides the boys). but since he grows “commercial crops,” non-edible crops that play directly into the enormous ag industry (including all of those questions about subsidies, fuels, animal feed, etc), i think farmers like him get lumped into the term “industrial,” when they are not. note: i have made this mistake.
    they are family farms deserving of the same protection, promotion, etc that we’re advocating for family farms producing foods for human consumption. that said, i DO think there need to be way more incentives for farms to grow those kind of crops profitably than just the grain crops.

    does any of this add to the discussion? does it even make sense? : )
    i’m on the back end of a tiring week of schoolwork (just turned in my third packet), so i’m a little garbly. forgive me if i’m being redundant here!

    i love your passion and the issues you address in this blog. i’m more excited about the world because you’re working in it.

    • unfinishedportraitofsam says:

      uh, i just read this section and should clarify:
      “they are family farms deserving of the same protection, promotion, etc that we’re advocating for family farms producing foods for human consumption. that said, i DO think there need to be way more incentives for farms to grow those kind of crops profitably than just the grain crops.”

      by that i mean that just because a farm doesn’t grow edible crops does not mean it should not have our protection/promotion. but there should be more incentives to healthy, natural edible crops.

      am i a writing student? yes i am.

  3. Pingback: Where do you eat? | francofile

  4. meganbetz says:

    Ashley, Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Sarah, I apologize for the lack of nuance, and I apologize if I seemed to be lumping ANYONE into a category that seemed derogatory (other than the industry-side of things often forcing them into those positions). I understand the need for clarification here; thanks. I am not trying to argue that farms who do not provide edible crops are invalid or unimportant. I am arguing that the systems they are in large part forced to use–and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to ask you some questions about the farmers you know–are overly industrialized. The farms I grew up around render their seed back to suppliers. Their crops are under patents. They have limited choice (due to unsustainable government subsidy, which I realize is my radical opinion, & due to the dependence on chemicals), removing–again, in my opinion–a bit of family from the farm. I would love to learn some more things from you, and I’ll post about this discussion later to clarify & apologize for any misspeaking/mislabeling. Questions, if you feel like answering:
    1. Do they plant genetically-modified crops? Do they use fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides designed for those crops?
    2. Do they collect a portion of their seed for planting the following year, or are the rendered & purchased new for the next planting?
    3. Are the crops (whether animal or plant) taken to market on an individual level, sold in the community or sold to one main source?

    Thanks so much for your comment & for making me think more precisely. I hate to think I could have offended a family farmer. My absolute mission is to preserve them, in all their shapes, & allow them to determine their OWN shapes.

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