By Chris Harms
With tomorrow being the big day, I decided to get a little political with the blog.
If you are like me, you have been inundated with advertisements not only telling you to vote, but who and what to vote for. And regardless if you cast a ballot tomorrow, you still have an opportunity to vote. Every day.
While it may not be for an elected official, it can be just as powerful in shaping the world we live in.
You see, whatever you elect to spend your hard-earned cash on is, essentially, what you are voting on. That Grande Pumpkin Spiced Mocha you just bought from Starbucks: a tally for Starbucks. Purchased 100 pounds of Organic Dried Persimmons? The Farm will find a way to pick, slice and dry more. “Gotta give the people what they want,” after all…
The supply must meet the demand.
Of course, we are looking at this from the micro level. You may be thinking, “how does my one purchase really make that much of a difference?” Sound similar? With over 300 million people in America, your voice can feel so small at times. But don’t get discouraged. One voice can align with another. And another. Before you know it, a chorus of like-minded people ensues. Your chorus joins with another chorus. And another. Your voice is now so loud that it cannot be silenced.
After graduating from Occidental, I had the unique opportunity to work on my cousin Brad’s organic vegetable farm in the fertile land of Gridley, California. He’s been a small-scale commercial farmer nearly all his life, and we credit much of our success here at the Farm to him and his knowledge. A strapping young fellow at the time, I was put in charge of most of the heavy lifting at the farm. Things like rearranging the cold storage (where the oldest picked vegetables had to be brought to the front and the fresh harvest to the back), driving the forklift around, and helping load the semis when they would come for pick up a few times a week.
One day, while Brad and I were sitting out front, waiting for the Whole Foods truck to come in to take away our precious goods, he shared with me a humbling little story. “It’s kinda neat, huh?” he said with a slight grin, “I used to load up my pickup truck, drive into town and try to sell my veggies out of the back of the bed. Now they are coming to me in their trucks!” You see, back then, nobody cared about being “organic.” But to Brad, being organic is all he’s ever known.
Fortunately, for Brad and several other organic farmers, there was a huge shift in the produce market. People began to become more health conscience, aware of the foods they were putting in their bodies, and how it may have a direct effect on their well-being. More organic products sold in stores (or farmers markets) drove the market to producing more organics.
One of the few things I took away from my high school economics class was this concept of “supply and demand.” In the 1990s and early 2000s, there was a shift to more organics being purchased in the stores. Prices were high at the onset, and seemingly only the mid to upper class could afford to shop predominantly organic. But it didn't take long before more organic farming methods were created to match the increase in demand. Subsequently, prices dropped, and more and more people could afford organic produce, enriching their lives.
You see, if it weren’t for people like Brad at the start, ones who believed in farming organic, no matter the additional work and headaches it provided, there may have never been the drastic shift that we have seen in the market. Organic food would still be a rarity, prices would still be high, and our lives would suffer because of it.
So, the next time you go out to buy something, think of the cascade of events your dollar could create. Think deeper than the product itself, deeper than the dollar, deeper than the one vote. You are bigger than you think. “It’s kinda neat, huh?”