Last week I went to the dentist and was surprised with an unexpected root canal. Nice, right?
The dentist explained the entire process and said that root canals have come along way with modern technology and were safe, and fairly pain free.
I shocked him and said, “Doc, I appreciate the offer but would you mind doing the procedure the same way it was done in the 50’s?”
OK, I didn’t actually say that. (Everyone knows you can’t actually talk to the dentist because they only talk to you with their tools in your mouth.)
I just nodded and embraced the modern advancements that made the process nearly pain free.
As crazy as that request sounds- for a patient to request a dentist revert back to practices from decades ago - it’s the same request that is thrown at farm families all the time.
“Grow food the way we used to.”
“Farm the way Grandpa did.”
“Technology doesn’t belong in my food.”
I understand there’s much more nostalgia associated with our food than a root canal. It’s more personal and frankly, there’s more at risk if we get it wrong.
But can I share something with you?
We aren’t getting it wrong.
I’m not claiming the system - especially the system beyond the farm level - is perfect. But overwhelmingly, modern farming is moving in the right direction.
The list of technology and advancements available to farm families like us is long: modern plant and animal genetics, modern chemistry, precision farming, data collection and analysis, improved machinery, more advanced weather prediction. And on and on.
All of this technology allows us to meet growing demands of a modern world with less: Less impact on our environment, less released carbon, less land, less water.
In other words - we are raising a safer, more transparent and more traceable product than ever before all while moving in the direction of actively protecting our environment and resources.
I want you to keep holding farmers and our industry accountable for doing it right. But I also want you to pause and think about the importance of technology in hitting those goals.
A person would be crazy to request a root canal with 50 year old procedures.
Likewise, it would be crazy to ask us to farm that way too.
(Corn pictured is a GMO hybrid with traits for insect protection and herbicide resistance, key traits for minimizing our environmental impact on our farms. It was planted and will be sprayed and harvested with machinery equipped with computers and GPS to manage outputs down to the square inch. If you ever want to understand how that technology makes us better stewards of the environment just holler.)
Cancelled. All of them. Some of them. The most important one. The smallest one. The biggest one.
I don’t run any livestock shows anymore. And in the last weeks I’ve never been more grateful for that reality.
I get the stock show life - I literally met my husband in the show ring. We get the disappointment and the work and the emotion that come with all that is happening.
I respect your hurt.
But please be kind. Be careful of how you frame this for your children.
A show being cancelled is not the end of the world, the end of the summer, or even the end of the week. Don’t make it that way for your children.
Do not let your initial emotion frame this as a traumatic event or as something that was “stolen” from your children. It doesn’t have to be that way, if you don’t make it that way.
They are looking at you - at me and other adults - for how to respond.
Right now - there is no “right”’ decision. There is no easy, black and white, clear as mud decision. It’s complicated. It varies HUGELY depending on location. And personal experiences.
It’s easy to call the people making decisions fools or cowards. It’s easier yet when it’s people in government.
It’s much harder to set our emotions aside, consider the complexity of the situation, acknowledge that as individuals we likely do not have all of the facts, and respect the people making the hard decisions. They don’t like them either.
We don’t have to agree with the decisions, but we can still be respectful.
In the stock show industry we constantly claim this isn’t about winning banners. It’s about teaching our children life lessons of hard work, determination, respect, resiliency.
I know this stinks. But let’s step up to that challenge now and teach our children all of those things we claim we are after.
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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