Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hard Questions

I tend to want life to be black and white; simple, concise and unchanging. Unfortunately adult life is much more gray. Here is a story that made me see a bit of the gray this week.

For years I have had help maintaining the farm. George originally worked for me as a cook at the restaurant in Seattle and now works here on the farm helping out with the animals, the fences and the fruit trees. He was born in Mexico and raised on a farm. He dropped out of school by junior high school to work in the fields. Although he left Mexico many years ago he still has a better understanding of cows than I could ever have. I value his opinions and innate sense of animals.

This Saturday he brought two of his young sons out to the farm. They love to come out and help him, ride their bikes up and down the sidewalks and play with the dogs. They are amazing kids. The older one is in Kindergarten and I was helping him with writing words and letters. He is smart and articulate and charming. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. I suggested to him that he should strive to be a lawyer, a doctor, a professor. I want him to be successful and utilize his intelligence and have a life great, rich and full for himself and his family.

I did not ever suggest to him that he follow in his father's footsteps and become a farmer. I must admit that I would not make that suggestion.

My hard line is usually that the answer to many of our societal challenges is to have more small farms; farms closer to us, healthier food, a better understanding of our food culture. I love what I do here: raising animals, vegetables and fruit and feeding people. It is a great life.

The moral of this story? Can't say I have one, just that there is a lot of gray in the discussion. Do we want a nation where the best and brightest slop pigs, weed carrots and milk cows or is it more efficient for that work to be done in large scale operations many miles away?