Message From Montana

10/26/2010 11:57 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Maria Rodale CEO and Chairman of Rodale, Inc. and book author

Every once in a while I get emails from readers that just deserve to be shared with all of you. So starting today, I'm going to be sharing your letters as "guest blogs" on Tuesdays, along with my regular guest bloggers' posts. Here is Shannon's story. Please share yours with me, too. And if we post it, I'll send you a signed copy of my book.

By guest blogger Shannon Brown

Ms. Rodale,

My family and I live in northern Montana, and are organic farmers and members of the Montana Organic Association.

I wanted to share a view from a farm girl in Montana, and our struggles with organics. There are very few frustrations as a grain grower--other than the fact that the market hasn't been there this past year--but we were very blessed by the Lord to have our crops sold when many others had to sit on their crops.


The biggest frustrations, though, come from being consumers in the area where we live. We are 75 miles from the nearest Wal-Mart or large grocery store, and even there the choices for organic are so small that very few items I use are even available. An example would be apples; you can't find organic apples unless you drive 400-plus miles round-trip to a larger city, and then the choice is poor. I have found you can order organic in groceries and produce from Oregon on a truck that comes to our drop-off spot every two months. Needless to say, apples are a scarcity at our home, when they should be something you could easily purchase.

I think the hardest part also is the attitude of some people in this area of the country. They feel organic is no different and all recite reports they've heard, etc. They argue that food doesn't make a difference in our health; it's our genes. They actually consider me to be quite eccentric because I jump through hoops just to buy organic milk. I know of only one other family and one autistic child that consume organic. I've had store clerks make comments, from why organic ketchup is a joke to "you're one of those" because I use recyclable bags. I know people who, if given the choice, won't buy organic just because. But I am such a firm believer in organics that I stand up for it even if I'm the only one standing.

I grow an organic garden, which helps tremendously in getting fresh veggies during the summer. I use to buy all I could organically, and accepted the things I couldn't get, but now I am even more determined to provide for my family the very best things. It requires all kinds of shopping, ordering online, and stockpiling for several months, along with convincing a grocery shop to special-order. I have two toddler boys, and I can't accept them having pesticides, etc., in their food when I can do something about it. You shouldn't have to jump over hurdles to provide the best for your family, and yet corporations dictate most of the choices we are given. I feel empowered as a consumer, but it'll take more people to demand organics before they will be on the local grocery shelves.

It's nice to know there is a movement out there for something I am so passionate about. One of my dreams is that someday the stores will be overflowing with organic foods and products; chemicals/GMOs will be thing of the past, and my children will live in a better world because of it.

Shannon Brown
Turner, MT

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