The experience I most value from the food intensive came during our tour of the experimental orchard and germplasm repository. There were many aspects of the orchard that I found inspiring, such as the incredible amount of biodiversity being preserved for the use of future generations. However, there were also parts of the tour which left a bitter taste in my mouth, such as the acres of fruit left to rot on the ground, or the researchers’ complicity with the demands of the food industry to breed for shelf life and processing potential rather than flavor or hardiness. Still, the woman in charge of our tour was an intelligent and kind person, so I asked her, “do you feel that by working with the industry you are able to help more people?”
“yes, exactly”, she replied.
“But what if the interests of the industry are not the same as those of the people?”, I asked.
“That’s a sociological problem, not an agricultural one. While I do think the two are in some ways related, what I do here is feed people”
“But don’t you worry that you’re playing into that by working toward the interests of the industry?”
“Nope”, she said, matter of factly, “I’m just a cog in the machine. In life, you can have your ideals, but you have to keep them separate from your work.”
I thought it was fascinating to hear views so different from my own, and from the Woolman motto: live what you believe.