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It Shouldn’t Be This Hard.

There are lots of things in this world that should be hard. Pretty much anything worth having should be worth a good effort. But there are some very worthy things that shouldn’t be hard. They should be easy. Like putting food on the table. Choosing it, trusting it…that should all be easy. It’s bad enough and sad enough that accessibility, availability and affordability of food can be hardest on those who can least afford the difficulty and hardship. But, it shouldn’t be this hard. Choosing food for your family shouldn’t be stressful like this. It shouldn’t drive you to distraction and cause you to feel guilt. It shouldn’t require the same amount of research that should have gone into your final high school English paper. In our society of choice there shouldn’t be agonizing decision making fraught with fear just to put food on the table.

It shouldn’t be this hard.

If a mom just wants to buy her son a carton of almond beverage it shouldn’t become a frustrating search just because the brand she usually buys is out of stock. There are no less than half a dozen brands offering what she wants, yet she is stymied and confused because she is looking for the one that clearly tells her that it is non-GMO. She doesn’t seem to care what is in the food she is just somewhat frantically looking for that pretty little tramp stamp of a butterfly. “It shouldn’t be this hard,” she says as we search the labels and ingredient lists because all she wants is to find the one without the GMO almonds, because somewhere along the line she became of afraid of something that doesn’t exist and she spends her valuable time and energy trying to avoid what isn’t there.

 Therein lies one of the challenges of our privileged times of choice and plenty: We want what we already have and we want a label for it so we know that it’s what we want.

So a little time, a little consideration and some patient explanations and this mom now knows that there are no GMO almonds, and that by simply looking at the ingredient list she can easily see that nothing there comes from the few commercially available crops available in genetically modified form, because that is what ingredient lists are there for: to provide us with information. But really, she was just concerned about the almonds. The GMO almonds that don’t even exist.

What would make this easier? What would make this better? What would make feeling good about the choices you make in the grocery store possible? Since we can’t turn back time to before people became confused and scared of their food by misinformation and advertising, by both intent and unintended default, we are left with the unsavory and unsatisfactory choices of which label to choose.

Maybe more information about not just where our food came from, but from whom would be helpful? Maybe instead of certain information trying to fit a label the label should fit the information, and even be able to grow with what we learn? Maybe what we need is more answers for more questions, and not answers that leave us with questions? Perhaps there are options out there that would help and make this not necessarily easy, but easier.

I’m just a mum who wants to do the best I can with what I have. I’ve got enough hard stuff on my To Do list to try and accomplish throughout the day that I don’t need to add navigating the landmines and pitfalls of marketing masquerading as information to the list. If businesses want to advertise what they think makes their products special, good. Let them do so. People pay extra for what they think is special. But I don’t need more words, more labels, more lip service that means one thing now, but may mean another thing next year if what is exempted today is not exempted then; or means something entirely different in one state than it does in another state. I don’t want a warning sign perpetuating the fear of the sky falling, I want knowledge. I want real, honest to goodness information available.

I’m a farmer who just wants to feed my corner of the world as best I can. I want people to know where their food comes from, and from whom. I especially want them to know how much effort and pride goes into the food we raise and produce and how nutritious and good it is. That’s not something they will know from a label, at least not from the label Vermont wants, or the labels other states, even my own state of Maine says it wants. As a matter of fact, it is exactly the opposite-they are going to know even less about their food, less about where it came from and even less about from whom. The fact is we’ve already done the hard part: we’ve raised up this food, taken care of soil and the animals, made sure it’s high quality, jumped through the hoops, met the standards, exceeded the standards, dotted i’s and crossed t’s, all the way from the farm to the market. Getting it to the table should be the easy part.

It shouldn’t be this hard.

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