Last year, Planet Money, an NPR podcast, decided to follow the production of a t-shirt, the Planet Money T-shirt. From cotton field, to yarn production, to shirt construction, and finally the shipment home, it was an eye opening look at something we take for granted. Planet Money even looked at what will happen to the t-shirt when you finally drop it off at good-will. (spoiler alert, you may see someone in Africa wearing your shirt!).
I completely take for granted the fact that clothing will be available, and at reasonable prices. Think of your mall, and how much is available at one time. That is crazy! The cotton farmer, the yarn maker, the seamstress, and the logistics, just so I can choose from thousands, or probably hundreds of thousands, of clothing items all under one roof. It's almost like magic.
I wish Planet Money would do a similar piece on a loaf of bread. Start with the farmer attending some production workshops. Review the risks he takes every year. Show the farm covered in snow on April 26, 2013, follow as he gets stuck trying to prepare the field for planting. Later in the summer, show him scouting for scab, or army worms, and tries to work hand in hand with Mother Nature to harvest a crop. The loaf of bread does not just magically appear on the shelf.
People take for granted the shelves will be full of food. It's this comfort level that has prompted people and groups outside of agriculture to start demanding more from farmers. If we have kept the shelves full for this many years, surely we can find a way to do it organically, or without GMOs, or while wearing coveralls and humming "Old McDonald." The number of people involved in food production decreases every year, but that doesn't stop "experts" from trying to dictate how food is produced.
During the Hawaii debate over GMO crops, one of the headline testimonies came from Roseanne Barr. Yes, the actress/comedian/bad Star Spangled Banner singing Roseanne Barr. She has no background in genetics, no advanced degrees in science, but somehow she became the expert at GMO hearings. Her testimony was better in the headlines than the drab genetic experts from various state universities. Who needs science when you have Roseanne?
So Planet Money, have I got an idea for you. Follow the production of a loaf of bread. Help show the world that food doesn't just magically appear on the shelves. Because if an actress carries more weight in the food dialogues than PhD geneticists, the food chain is in trouble.
Here is the link to Planet Money podcasts. The tshirt series starts on #496. May you never take your clothing for granted again.