Agriculture and Commerce


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today’s age of cyber space and technology, it is easy to forget that our country was founded upon the two basic needs of the people – agriculture and commerce.  Computers and PDAs are the pillars hoisting today’s society, but the foundation remains the soil upon which we stand.

This was the message of a recent tour I took of the Agriculture Department.  A group of interns and fellows from Capitol Hill made the short trek from the Gold Dome to the Agriculture Building across the street.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black took a break from his daily grind to speak to our young, eager ears.  His southern raising comes out in his good-natured smile and candid speech.  Black starts with an anecdote of a conversation with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle wherein they pry up the original Georgia state seal from its box to see the “front side”.

Georgia has a two-sided state seal.  Justice, Wisdom and Moderation were inscribed on one side, the side everyone is familiar with.  What is on the other side? Agriculture and Commerce.  Black’s point is that although not many people may know what the front side of the seal looks like, it speaks volumes of the importance of these two principles to the founding of Georgia – and truly the country as well.

Staff personnel took the group around the building to also peak into the laboratories where they test samples to ensure viability and health of food products from all over Georgia.  My favorite stop was the seed room – the last stop on our tour.  In this lab, they examine seeds from different stores to check the measurement on the bag matches the quantity in the bag and also to check the growth potential of the seeds.   Why would this be interesting to me?  It wasn’t as if the seed lab had golden eggs being checked for quality by a Willy Wonka scale, but my interest was piqued because of Food Inc. – one of the most influential documentaries I’ve watched in my lifetime.

Have you seen it?  I highly recommend everyone watch it because it’s true.  How do you know I ask?  It is good to always take information with a grain of salt.  I have always wanted to root for the underdog, in this the farmers.  It was easy for me to side with Food Inc assertions after watching this compelling body of evidence.  However, my beliefs were further strengthened after a visit my visit to the seed lab.  Although the lady was very friendly and helpful, she was unable to answer my questions brought up from Food Inc.  However, another staff member and I had a chat to the side about the documentary.  He had also watched it and wondered if it was factual.  He asked his farmer friend about some of the major assertions in the documentary, and was saddened to find that they were indeed true. 

This article is not meant to be a fact-checking meter.  I haven’t gone out of my way to check every claim, but I know enough to be true that it concerns me.  My chat with this staff member was what really made the tour, although I always enjoy a break from the office. 

Movie Synopsis:

The food industry is capitalism gone awry with special interest groups and individuals with deep pockets running the entire industry. Technology has grown faster than human intelligence and the surplus of corn is being genetically modified to enter into the human diet in ways never imagined before or should be done. Farmers are feeding cows corn instead of grass and hay. This in turn rots the cow’s intestines and creates gaping holes in the lining of their stomachs. Inhuman practices of chicken farming are common practices. Large corporations that own the food industry are keeping the farmers in line with threats of debilitating lawsuits. The CEOs of these companies are successfully lobbying Congress and, in some cases, are sitting in the chairs of regulation boards. As consumers, we must make an active choice to only buy locally, eat organically, and in another way, support companies that are following humane practices of fair trade and etc.

2 thoughts on “Agriculture and Commerce

  1. Argh! Kate. I adore you but this isn’t a finished post. I want to know a LOT more about what you and the staffer talked about. What you see and feel about the corrupt food industry. Quit underwriting my favourite Vietnamese-American. Let your words fly!

    1. Byron, I’m not underwriting. I want my readers to be interested in the movie and watch it for themselves. My conversation with the staffer was a few short exchanges between pauses, nothing more. It just happened to spark the idea for this post, which is an attempt to advertise this documentary.

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