Monday, June 4, 2012

Fair Oaks, Pigs, and the Food connection

Why I support Fair Oaks Pig Adventure:

Part of the Fair Oaks Dairy Visitor Center (Pictured above)

Note: This blog attempts to represent some of my personal thoughts and motivations and should in no way be considered as a statement from Fair Oaks Pig Adventure, or any of its other supporters including Belstra Milling or the National Pork Board.

In a recent conversation Melanie Wilt, Wilt PR, , and creator of the ""Authentic Voices in Agriculture Training" asked "Why do you put yourself out there as an advocate for agriculture?"

My answer was, well, authentic, "I have always been concerned with sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ where ever I am. In thinking about how to do that in a meaningful way in my farming community I have come to recognize the central role that religious belief plays in those that farm. There is a fundamental religious perspective that forms in the mind of the person that is dependent on the whims of weather and animals for their existance. Life forces you to acknowledge and recognize that things are out of your control and must be entrusted to a creator. I see this as an opportunity to point out to people the Creator and strengthen their beliefs and help them understand why we do what we do. And why that is ethically fine."

 Consider the letter written to the Roman Christians in the first century, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." (Romans 1:20) (click for an online bible)or the explanation presented in 1646 by the westminster confession chapter 1, paragraph 1, sentence 1. God's creation points man to God.

The recent death and consequent memorials to Chuck Colson (click here for an example) have reinforced my belief that the Christian church (all denominations and associated factions) needs to be engaged in the world doing things for "Good". The church must be about showing that we understand the challenges and concerns faced by everyone, and offering an explanation and a way forward in facing those concerns. I believe this message is delivered by what we do and who we are more than by what we say. Our actions are our most "Authentic Voices".

I am coming to recognize the difference between "hard" assets and "soft" assets.

Our words, blogs, you tubes, advertising, and so on are all good and important but they are "soft" assets. At the end of the day there is nothing there but an idea remembered or forgotten. There is something to be said for "hard" assets. something you can touch, feel, see, lean on, go visit, and relate to that is unmatched by words.

 Think of the churches or any other big building in your town. Even if they are empty, they make a statement to the passerby about the people of the town. Someone took the time, expense, and effort to build it and maintain it. That building stands for something. It is a "hard" asset that communicates all day, every day, simply by being there. In this sense the earth (creation) is a "hard asset" from God's perspective. It speaks constantly of His glory and character.

When I look beyond my local community I am confronted with a world that is screaming out for something solid to believe anchor its thinking to. To touch and feel and lean on. And know that it is real. Think of the consumer saying, "Just label this food. I just want to know what is in it!" or "How can I trust the research? It is all paid for by the promoter."

The New York Times recently sponsored an essay contest entitled: "Why eating meat is ethical".
I struggle with that title since ethics come from our world view and the contest never defined what worldview the judges would use.

How we answer fundamental questions like, "Where did man come from?" shapes our world view and therefore our ethics. If you think man is here as the result of the "Big Bang" and the workings of evolution then it would seem reasonable that you would conclude that man is not ethically superior to plants or animals. "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy" (I will let you google it yourself since I can't pick a link that seems reasonable) is the famous animal rights quote that comes to mind.

If you think man is here because he was created in the image of God then it seems reasonable that you would conclude that people are unique and stand at the top of the ethical ladder. From that vantage point you would start to realise that you are a steward of the earth and all that is in it. You have enormous responsibilities.

So, how does all this translate into support for the Fair Oaks Pig Adventure ?

The public is 3 generations away from the farm. They are not exposed daily to the fundamental connection to the earth and the source of their existence that comes from seeing and depending on the miracle of life as expressed through animals and plants.

(These pictures are from a tour of my facility. The Fair Oaks Tour will not be "hands on" but "through a window" visual.)

I see Fair Oaks Pig Adventure as a "hard" asset that is inviting the public to come and experience in a small way the miracle of birth. See first hand the different nature of animals and their care givers, Learn how man can act with good stewardship toward animals, the environment, and people. In short, I want people to have a chance to come as close as possible to the miraculous way that their food is created and to begin to shape/reshape their worldview and thereby their ethics.

For me personally, the really cool part is all this will be communicated without a single piece of religious literature being distibuted. Without any oral preaching being done. It will all be communicated by people drawing near to the source of their life giving food and asking, "Where does food come from?"

For all these personal reasons and, many more business reasons, I think it is a great value to invest in the Fair Oaks Pig Adventure.

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