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"Working together we harvest solar energy with grass grown on healthy soil to sustainably produce delightful food that nourishes people and strengthens our community."

Beware of Vicious (Downward) Spirals

Posted by Mark Grieshop on 1/17/2013 to A Word from Mark
This time of year seems to be fraught with lack: lack of sun, lack of warmth, lack of fresh food, lack of energy. It is easy to get into a cycle of crutches that aren't always healthy under these conditions just to get us through. But perpetual dependency on quick fixes—whether it is caffeine, unemployment insurance, crop insurance, or pasteurization—often have wide-ranging consequences!

It is not uncommon for me to arrive home to the farm at 3 or 4 a.m. after being away several days flying around the country. Whether it is the natural body clock or the "Farmer Mark" sense of responsibility and enthusiasm for farm life, I would still get up earlier than I should without the benefit of a having a healthy dose of sleep and lunge forward into a full day ahead. 

Being sleep deprived, I would find myself pumping up on caffeine throughout the day. "I need to get this done.  I have got to keep going."  So I would drink more coffee … and so on. (Some of you may already know where I am going with this.)

When I would get to bed that night and get a full 7, 8, or more hours sleep, I would still feel sluggish the next morning!  Grrrr.  So in my infinite wisdom, what would I do?  Why, of course I called upon Mr. Caffeine!  Sure, this got me the immediate effect I was looking for but what I was failing to recognize was the insidious, long-term implications also courtesy of my "friend" Mr. Caffeine.

While the physical effect of caffeine wears off after 2 hours, the acute effects linger on for up to 6-8 hours after consumption. So while the body may fall asleep, the brain does not fall into a deep (REM) sleep.  Hence the downward spiral: sluggishness, need some caffeine, worthless 7-8 hours of sleep, sluggishness, more caffeine…and so on. Along with sleep, your vibrant good health is the first to go, which affects all areas of life! Heck, we as raw milk drinkers realize and value the importance of good health. But the habits necessary for good health are not as easy to fit into our busy lives as slamming a cup o' joe. If they were, everyone would be doing it.

The point of this Sleep-Caffeine example is to illustrate that short-term "stop gaps" often exacerbate the very problem they intended to resolve. In this example, the short-term cure became a long-term source for a myriad of potentially more series of problems. This same pattern is apparent with some of the key issues in the government debates we see today!

Unemployment Insurance
Unemployment Insurance was "sold" to Americans as being a temporary safety net of sorts for people who lose their job. As well-intentioned as this practice may be, and even recognizing that many people have paid into it and who may urgently need it, I am going to offer another perspective on this practice.

The area unemployment rate is 7.4% with approximate 1,200 people in the workforce who are not working.

Pasture's Delights from time to time has put "Help Wanted" ads in the paper. Whether due to the hours, physical nature of the work, inexperience with dairy farming, or starting low pay, we usually get anywhere from 1 to 4 responses for a help-wanted ad…and sometimes none at all!  Assume only 30% of 1,200 (360 people) are physically capable and have the competency and character prerequisite for the job, that still is 356 more people than actually show any interest in wanting a job. Some may say simply they don't want to do dairy farm work, but that bears no argument to the principle of the matter.  There are a lot of people who do not necessarily like their jobs, but God Bless them for they do not feel someone else owes them a living. Why are the unemployed not competing to work here? How does this affect the bigger picture in our society?

The cycle looks something like this: People lose their jobs. People receive unemployment. Pasture's Delights looks for help but cannot find it—not because everyone is already working, but because government taxes (which come directly from the pockets of working America) are subsidizing unemployed people's livelihood. The unemployeds' expectations for a living are elevated. To hire, the employer must offer a wage that beats unemployment. In order to afford these wages, Pasture's Delights has to raise the cost of its product. Raising prices in an already soft economy makes our product unaffordable to more people, thus reducing the demand and precipitating a reduced demand for future labor. Furthermore, those who do pay for our more expensive product now have less money to spend elsewhere in the economy, thus affecting jobs in other sectors. Hiring again goes down. And this is for established businesses. Start-ups can't even get past the unemployment wage gap to get enough demand quick enough at the prices it has to charge to offset its fixed start up AND labor costs. Every business needs a certain amount of scale, and when the government is artificially elevating prices/wages with unemployment insurance it makes it that much harder.

So if price increases aren't an option, what does a company do? You do more with less. Demand more hours from your workforce for the same pay. The working people are slammed from both sides. They are paying the taxes that go to unemployment insurance that is elevating prices that put the growth of the economy and future jobs in jeopardy while working more hours for the same pay. Meanwhile they can't afford the products they are producing! Nevermind what this extra work is doing to their health.

Just like Caffeine, unemployment insurance as it's currently structured actually exacerbates the very problem it is meant to be a safety net for. Unemployment insurance that was meant to be the "stop gap" to fill the time between jobs to LIVE has become a crutch for people to hold out for a job they LIKE. Meanwhile, less jobs are available.

And to be fair, there are many people who are on unemployment who otherwise would LIKE to work at Pasture's Delights, but for them it is an "either / or" situation:  They can collect their full $350/week unemployment or earn $200/week at a part time job at Pasture's Delights. A step in the right direction would be to incorporate a provision in the unemployment insurance program that would allow a person to earn income and the unemployment insurance program to make up the difference. 

I feel I will need to address this now because some reading this are bound to think this:   "If you would just pay more we would work there." I, for one, am all about seeing compensation rise for people working at Pasture's Delights! But the business has to grow to afford it and that growth must be earned. Those aren't my rules but the reality of business. The wages must come from somewhere. If we first run an excellent business that offers a quality product that people want at a competitive price people can afford to pay, demand will increase to offset our fixed start up costs and our efforts and thereby compensation will rise accordingly.  It is as simple as that. 

I've seen the workmanship both at the airlines and at the farm at two very different pay scales and to be honest I've observed very little difference. In fact workmanship may be even worse at the companies where employees were paid overly well but felt entitled to their compensation. The largest difference in workmanship comes from cultures where everyone understands that business is competitive and everyone must first earn what they get in order to get what they earn. But people who understand business and where their wages come from are rare becoming rare each passing day.

Many expect to come to Pasture's Delights and make "x" dollars per hour with no understanding or concern how their efforts make those business numbers work (or don't as the case may be). It is no wonder that these same people are unfazed by collecting unemployment insurance from some enigmatic figure (the government) with endless amounts of cash, not fully realizing that other people had to work even harder to raise that money in their unemployment checks. 

Crop Insurance
Some crops qualify for crop insurance subsidies from the United States Department of Agriculture, underwritten by We the Taxpayers.  Of course this is in the name of keeping the farmer in business despite a bad year, like in the case of this year's drought food security.

I want to point out that our crop security came through increasing the soil water percolation and water storage within the soil humus, rather than concentrating our entire crop year's (energy) production potential on a two-week pollination period that is critically dependent upon favorable moisture and temperatures in order to get a yield. Despite this year's drought Pasture's Delights' hay and pasture yields were as good as ever, which admittedly was also helped by an unusually early spring.

The deal is here is I am being taxed, and you are being taxed, to protect, prop up, and mask over potentially flawed, or riskier, farming decisions. Crop insurance is "sold" to the public that "we need to sustain farmers through tough times" has resulted in no-concern-with-tomorrow farming practices and non-food while REAL food prices are high and wages are low!

Pasteurization and (il)legalization of raw milk
Another quick fix the government enacted and enforced is the pasteurization of raw milk, nearly a hundred years ago, after millennia of raw milk consumption by humans. This was an answer to sloppy farming practices and the movement of people to cities, further from their food supply. And the result? Increases in milk allergies, lactose intolerance, poor gut health due to a lack of beneficial gut flora, the list goes on … . People are turning away from dairy all together to avoid these issues, substituting soy or coconut milk that aren't immune from creating their own nutritional deficiencies. People are waking up to the consequences of pasteurization and wonder, how did this happen?

What is the RIGHT answer to safe raw milk? Take responsibility! Farmers must practice clean, conscientious, sustainable farming and milking like we do at Pasture's Delights, and keep scale and distance manageable—don't take on more than can safely be handled and maintain a relationship close to your consumers. But this is not cheap or easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.

It would be interesting to do a study how much lower cost our raw milk boarding fees would be if the ethanol mandate and crop insurance programs were not in place.  People complain about soaring food cost and the cost of raw milk, but believe it or not We the People have more say in this cost than Farmer Mark does.  It would also be interesting to know how much improved our safety practices for producing raw milk would be if we were not having to spend our energy competing against the ethanol mandate for land and feed resources, not to mention time and energy correcting all the anti-raw milk propaganda put out by my government.  I know we could have safer and more affordable milk if the government wasn't tripping us up in the process.

Yet despite these challenges, Pasture's Delights still perseveres. And those who aren't doing it are trying to make this ILLEGAL. So called farmers organizations (lobbyists), government agencies, large food corporations, universities with their intricate web of financial ties—no matter how much on the surface they pretend to be about our health—all have an agenda: control and money.  Nothing more, nothing less. 

Whatever the case may be in moving forward, no one person is going to save the world, or the country for that matter, but every single person can make a difference.   One way you can make an impact close and dear to you is by protecting your right to access raw milk in Indiana.  Dressed up under the guise of "raw milk safety" to gain consumer's confidence I will assure you that BOAH's suggestions for "legalizing raw milk" in Indiana has high probability of being a wolf in sheep's clothing. Don't expect Pasture's Delights or you the consumer to be the winner according to BOAH's recommendations for how to achieve raw milk legalization and security.  And maybe they've made a genuine effort, but if past actions are any indication, we have every reason to be suspicious of a government who fabricates, twists, and omits the facts about raw milk in order to paint it as a dangerous, controlled substance and deny or regulate consumers' access to it. 

Kittey Werthmann who grew up in Austria, witnessed and saw what happened as Hitler took over:

"We had another agency designed to monitor business. My brother-in-law owned a restaurant that had square tables.
 Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn't meet all the demands.

 Soon, he went out of business. If the government owned the large businesses and not many small ones existed, it could be in control."

If we do not know history we are bound to repeat it.  This is why I am asking each and every reader to join forces by assisting on the Raw Milk Task Force to help influence future raw milk legislation in Indiana.  Complaining after legislation is already crafted and passed is pointless—we must do all we can do to influence it.

Wake up and smell the coffee
At Pasture's Delights we encounter a wide variety of challenges on a regular basis.  It is called being in business.  Just like being a cook, if one cannot stand the heat don't stay in the kitchen.  The deal is, try our best, we especially do not appreciate being tripped up. Working as hard as we do, the sacrifices we make for this business to succeed by pursuing what's right (earning our wages and sustainable farming) not what's easy (unemployment insurance, pasteurization, and crop insurance subsidies), and still paying taxes for others to thrive on easy government-assistance street, it's hard not to think, "what's the use?"  

We watch as our government taxes us and then turns around and uses our tax dollars against free enterprise and Americans' trust to decide for themselves what is best, and our business by disparaging raw milk on the grounds of "lack of science," and simultaneously promote GMO foods where there, in fact, is a lack of sound FDA science.  This same government tries to restrict my raw milk market while guaranteeing a market for corn, and protects the incomes of grain farmers paid for by our tax dollars and the inelastic food dollar.  Our government is clearly picking winners and losers.  

It's not the people receiving unemployment insurance or getting fat (literally) off the artificially inflated grain market who are to blame.  The issue is with these programs themselves and ALL of us who promote and allow these programs while evidently not recognizing the long term, unintended consequences. We sit back, scratch our heads, and wonder why our country is headed in a downward spiral. 

A media pundit recently offered their observation about how more and more issues are becoming polarizing in nature, raw milk and food being one of them. When we as Americans lose understanding of what it means to be free and personally responsible, that is what happens.  Some people will try to exert their force on others.  Other people are busy just minding their own business, having no vendetta to make others drink raw milk or deny others access to store bought milk.  However, when some people think they have the right to interfere with other people's personal business, such as the food they wish to eat to nourish their own bodies or how their hard earned money should be spent—then yes these are polarizing issues!

Staying True to Principles
There is a reason why fifty six people signed the Declaration of Independence.  Note that it was not just one or two people who signed this historical document.  Fifty Six people, hung together, in risking their reputations and lives for something they believed in despite the overwhelming odds against them.  There is a reason why this country's Founding Fathers laid out the Constitution the way they did. Many people have a problem with the electoral college or think it is outdated.  Then again this gets at the very  reason we have an electoral college versus an outright popularity vote.  This also gets at Food rights and the right to access food of our own choosing. 

They articulated our right to life, liberty, and the PURSUIT of happiness. Happiness in itself is not a fundamental right, whether you are looking for it through easy, lucrative work or a supposedly "safe, risk-free" food supply. Our life and liberty are in jeopardy because more and more of this society think they are entitled to these rewards rather than their pursuit. There is no such thing as a free entitlement, quick fix, or subsidy—I guarantee the Caffeine will catch up to you!

Aunt Bonnie Date 1/19/2013
Hi Mark, Greetings! Very interesting and informative. You have opened my eyes and I say thank you for that! Thank for doing what you do to promote better foods and better health. Continue to do what you do with the enthusiasm and confidence and conviction you have for this mission ! Love, Aunt Bonnie
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