"A saw a few minutes of news last night while dining at the mall to celebrate my niece’s half birthday. (God forbid a television not be on at all times in all places.) A smart looking guy in a suit used the words “economic crisis” more times a minute than a thirteen year-old says “like.”That was the opening paragraph of Shaun Groves' (musician/Christian/blogger) blog post the other day. He is pretty much spot on in the assessment that people are saying "economic crisis" a lot these days, in fact I have even found myself writing about the past few days. But, it is what he had to say after that opening paragraph that really got me thinking about the farm ... our farm in particular.
We, we’re told, are having some major financial problems ... But iPhones are selling like, um, iPhones. And so are Apple computers - now accounting for 25% of all money spent on computers in the U.S. And they aren’t cheap. I know. I’m using one right now.Mr. Groves also linked to the blog of Seth Godin, who is some sort of marketing guy that I've never heard of.
And most of us - wouldn’t you say? - are still buying soft drinks, snack food, texting plans, cable, vitamin water, and lots of other stuff that’s hardly essential too. We’re not exactly living like people in the midst of an “economic crisis.”
Marketers taught well-fed consumers to want to eat more than we needed, and consumers responded by spending more and getting fat in the process.There is a lot of truth in what Mr. Groves and Mr. Godin both say. Each has a little different take on the subject (and in truth the "economic crisis"), but I believe both are relevant to farming ... especially beginning farming.
"Marketers taught to us amplify our wants, since needs aren’t a particularly profitable niche for them. Isn't it interesting that we don't even have a word for these marketing-induced non-needs? No word for sold-hungry or sold-lonely...
Thirsty? Well, Coke doesn’t satisfy thirst nearly as well as water does. What Coke does do is satisfy our need for connection or sugar or brand fun or consumption or Americana or remembering summer days by the creek...
People don’t need Twitter or an SUV or a purse from Coach. We don’t need much of anything, actually, but we want a lot. Truly successful industries align their ‘wants’ with basic needs (like hunger) and consumers (that’s us) cooperate all day long."
First of all both bloggers, and especially Mr. Godin, do a good job of explaining what we Americans are really like. We really have done a good job of transforming things into need that really are wants all along (television, cable, pop/soda, name brand stuff, pre-packaged foods, etc.) and so when we hit what may or may not be tough times in the economy and we begin to cut back on the "wants" there really is a lot more that we could cut back on. As I have mentioned before I experience that often in the ministry.
But, these shift of things from wants to needs has also be a part of the changing face of agriculture. Since the time that our society began creating and marketing the "cool" things I think we may have seen a decline in the amount of money we are willing to pay for the needs. What I mean is this ... take food ... it is pretty darn near the top of the needs category, yet no matter how important it is to our lives we don't really want the price of food to get in the way of the cool things we want. So, we have created a system that makes food really cheap ... but not really good for us.
Why else did it make me think of farming, or more specifically our farm? Well, because the things that Mr. Groves is talking about are the things that will make or break our farm (because we are starting with nothing). As we begin our farm, and as followers of Christ we seek to live Christ-like lives, it is important for us to live like we are in an "economic crisis". Not that we are fearful of the world around us, because really there is no reason to fear, but rather because it is all about good stewardship.
We desire to be good stewards of the livestock and land that we have, well than we should also be good stewards of the "stuff" that we have. We need to make sure that we are taking care of the needs and then look for ways to cut down on the wants. Just as good land stewardship is good for our farm and those who live around us, good life stewardship is good for those who live around us and beyond.
I really do encourage you to check out both of the blog posts that I have mentioned today. I found them very thought provoking and even encouraging. Oh, and one more thing ... if you want to see an "economic crisis" don't look here in the United States. Even in times of "economic greatness" there will always be those facing a "economic crisis" of some sort here in the U.S. But, if you really want to see what "economic crisis" is we need to look beyond our own borders ... that is just my opinion though and my opinion, so you can take out of it whatever you would like.