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More or Better?

Darren Olsen, Editor Published on 05 February 2010

The question is simple enough, but so many times our actions lead to the exact opposite of what we really need or want in our lives.

No, I am not trying to become some great philosopher; I am trying to address a question that was presented to me at a recent forage conference.

At the meeting, a professional associate of several years asked me, “Why do so many producers try and eke out another quarter-ton per acre when if they had cut for quality, they would have made more on less hay?”

The question bounced around a few of us for awhile, but no one had a really good answer. Since then, I have spent a lot of time thinking about it and can hopefully provide a little better answer now. So for you Dan, here is my official answer. The rest of you are welcome to join our conversation.

It is human nature to want more. More money, more time, more land, more happiness. Billions of dollars are spent and hundreds of businesses thrive on helping people get more out of what they have.

If we can do more, we can have more, or so the popular world declares. I have, however, found through careful consideration that more isn’t better. In fact, more is simply that – more.

What we desperately need is better, and I use the following two examples to set the basis for my feelings. While there may be personal exceptions to the following examples, I feel they represent reasons we seem to want more, not better.

Look at your waistline
If there were ever evidence that more is not better, just look at the American waistline. For centuries, we have pushed production and lifestyle to give us more and never has there been more evidence of that fact than what we eat.

We can now eat more calories, more cheaply than any generation before us. Food is easy to prepare, easy to eat, easy to come by. We party with it, celebrate with it, relax with it, console ourselves with it and occasionally actually have a meal with it.

Our bodies are crying for a better diet, yet we “supersize” because more is better. Whole grains have been replaced with fast food, home cooking with boxes and cans. Why? Because we feel we need more (not because we need more), and the faster you can get more, the better off you are.

Employee satisfaction
For some reason, anyone in the workforce who does well inevitably is given more to do. Why? Because we assume that because they are thriving, they can thrive even better with more to do.

Instead of discovering what makes them thrive and allow them to grow within their area of expertise, we give them more, which generally has the opposite effect. We smother rather than fan the flame of excellence.

The employee who was once praised for excellent work is reprimanded for lackluster results, not because they are doing less – they just have less to give each part of more. Morale wanes, bitterness ensues and quality departs in the name of more.

Everyone wants more time, more freedom, more money, more, more, more. Yet, when you honestly examine the situation, you are actually saying you want better. You want better quality time with your family, better quality lifestyle, better use of your resources.

I think that if everyone were to replace more with better, some initial decisions and follow-up would change; some priorities would shift. In the pursuit of more, we so often end up with less, and that is sad.

It isn’t bad to have more, but at what cost? If it is just a replacement for the quality you could already enjoy, you might want to reconsider the pursuit of more. And that goes for family, friends, forage and anything else you are pursuing in 2010.

P.S. Don’t forget about the Roundup Ready alfalfa comment period. There are still a few more days to let your voice be heard. To read the Environmental Impact Statement, visit and then submit your comments.  FG

Darren Olsen
FG Editor