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Kelsey Timmerman Headshot

God Made Farmers, Man Made Ways to Exploit Them

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God made a farmer to care for his lands, animals, feed His people, and, according to the Super Bowl commercial, to drive a Dodge Ram truck. It was one of the most talked about commercials of the evening, attempting to strike the chord in all of us that Mitt Romney (or any other politician) tries to strike when he wears a Carhartt jacket.

We are a nation of farmers a few generations removed from the fields. But today only one percent of Americans are actually farmers. We revere the image of farmers on TV commercials and in campaign speeches. The truth is there are one billion farmers on earth and in some countries as many as 60 percent of them live in poverty.

In the past year I've worked alongside banana farmers in Costa Rica, coffee growers in Colombia, cocoa farmers in Africa, and apple farmers in Michigan and China, while researching Where Am I Eating. I've seen what life is actually like for farmers.

God made farmers and their seed, but man created laws that allow corporations to own the seed.

God made farmers, but man made "terminator technology" that keeps a crop from producing viable seeds so other men have to continue to buy the seed.

God made farmers, but man made the company store to which Costa Rican banana workers go in debt.

God made farmers, but man made a global market of speculation and short term profits that causes commodity prices to rise and fall and with them the lives of the farmers.

God made farmers, but man made pesticides that flat-broke farmers in China and India drink to end their lives and erase their debts.

God made farmers, but man made pesticides for farm laborers to spread, robbing them of their ability to father healthy children.

God made farmers, but man made farm subsidies that favor processed foods.

God made farmers, but man made slavery.

God made farmers, but man made a Super Bowl ad with a bunch of white farmers and one black one. In reality, much of American farm work is done by workers from Latin America, and much of our food isn't even homegrown: 86 percent of our seafood, 50 percent of our fresh fruit, and 20 percent of our vegetables come from other countries.

God may have made farmers all around the world, but man continues to make new ways to exploit them.

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