We spend a good part of the spring hauling manure, and our kids are quick to clarify that it is in fact “cow poop”, which is apparently a lot more fun to say for 2 and 4 year old boys. For my purposes here, though, I’m going to stick with “manure”. Manure is kind of a funny thing. It’s something that has to be carefully managed. It has to be stored properly to not run off into waterways, but also stored away from livestock for their health and safety. It has to be hauled on fields at the right time and in the right quantities to safely provide nutrients for crops, and it has to be worked into the ground to prevent excessive runoff, but when it’s well managed manure also has immense benefits to the soil and the crops planted in that soil, and it’s a very valuable resource.
The nostalgic farm to table concept is often used today in marketing. It conjurs the idea of fresh, wholesome, directly sourced food. The phrase harkens to a simpler time, when family farms were diverse and provided mostly for the family with a small surplus for the neighbors or local community. As usual, the marketing picture may not match the reality.