Have you heard the kids talking about morphsuits? These stretchy garments are one-piece and cover the wearer completely from head to toe, taking away all distinguishing characteristics, leaving just a human form. They’re all the rage this year for Halloween costumes. With intentions unseen, morphsuit-wearing trick or treaters can ring doorbells and engage in Halloween hijinks with little worry about seeming odd.

Dressing as a farmer for Halloween? Well, you might as well put on a morphsuit. The characteristics that make you and your work what you are really have nothing to do with how you look. Or does it have everything to do with how you look? That’s more likely the case, as farmer attributes are being bestowed on anyone who wears a farmer-suit, which might as well be a morphsuit.

This type of insanity hit me full in the face last week at a conference I attended in Springfield, IL, called “Healthy Farms, Healthy People.” The room was full of more than a hundred public health and environmental health professionals, gathered together to listen to presentations about how better farmers grow better food which makes people who eat the better farmers’ better food, better people, apparently. Those professionals there actually received professional continuing education credits.

Here are a couple highlights from the conference that really ought to scare you:

  • Those guys that grow corn and soybeans all up and down Illinois. They’re not real farmers. They don’t grow food. They don’t even call themselves farmers. Just ask them. They call themselves producers. (From Dave Cleverdon, Organic Farmer, Kinnikinnick Farm; Board Member, Chicago Green City Market)
  • The way that we farm in Illinois drains hundreds of millions of dollars from the Illinois economy. Where could we, if not in Central Illinois, grow real food for local communities? (From Ken Meter, MA, MPA, President, Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis)
  • Farmers were better off in 1929 than in 2011, making more money and growing real food for their families and their communities. (Ken Meter)
  • October is now the official “Farm to School” month in Illinois, a signed Proclamation from Governor Quinn.
  • Locally grown, organic, fresh produce, is the only way to cure obesity and diabetes. (From a moderator in the discussion)

Now, on the outside quick glance, the bullet points above might not scare you, but they should. You should have a pretty decent Halloween-style creepy feeling crawling up your neck right now. That ominous feeling is public pressure, coming about from publicly-funded ‘public health’ professionals listening to scare tactics from other ‘professionals’ who are selling speaking gigs, research projects, and books.

Oh, but I’m saving the best part for last. To register for this event, you actually had to describe what kind of farmer you are. Apparently, there are good and bad farmers who either grow real food or they don’t, and that real food is only good food if it’s locally grown, fresh, and organic. It really has nothing to do with say, nutrition, or anything like that. That’s just a detail.

Good farmers (knighted as such by the ‘professionals’) grow real, good food (determined as such as long as it’s locally grown, fresh, and organic.)

All the rest of you? Well, you might as well just put on a morphsuit and go trick or treating tomorrow with the rest of the charlatans.

Tricia Braid
ICGA/ICMB Communications Director


  1. Great, sobering post, Tricia. I highly suggest these “experts” attend a conference like the World Food Prize in Des Moines, IA. There, GLOBAL food leaders with a dedication alleviating GLOBAL hunger address things like sustainability, natural resources, economic stimulus, and science from a global perspective.

    They aren’t good activists positioning themselves as experts — they are scientists, humanitarians, philanthropists, and people who have spent countless real-life hours immersed in the logistics and science of feeding the world. And, they are people, who have been on the ground where the needy are, in Africa, in Asia, in Europe, in South America, and yes even in America. No one system can feed the world, and fear-mongering activists are only harming progress that moves us closer to that.

    If a room full of hundreds of the world’s leading food scientists and hunger-fighters can agree that we need modern agriculture (with consciousness for biodiversity and resources), then I’ll stick with them. And I guess that means I’ll be a GMO zombie for Halloween.

  2. I answered the phone a few days ago and it was a survey about farming. Hmm. One of the questions was ‘how do you describe yourself – producer, farmer, rancher?’ I answered ‘farmer’ and I’m glad I did. At the end the survey person told me that the survey was sponsored by USFRA. Lately, some of the discussions on USFRA’s Facebook page are becoming more and more frightening with denigration of farmers and ranchers by the non-ag public, many of whom think that everyone should have an acre of land and grow their own food (or eat only organic, non-GMO food). I don’t know how to reach these people but I guess we have to keep trying.

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