September 4, 2007

A pastoral life - farming

Morgan Meis writing at Drexel University's online publication: "The Smart Set" offers these words:
The Trouble With Farmers
Where do they get off being so self-righteous?

Michael Pollan's bestseller, The Omnivore's Dilemma, has gotten people all riled up about farmers again. The last time this happened was when the first Farm Aid concerts reminded America that we have strong feelings about the family farm and its economic viability. The new round of farmer feelings is more directly related to issues of trade and the impact of globalization. As Pollan writes:
"I’m thinking of the sense of security that comes from knowing your community, or country, can feed itself; the beauty of an agricultural landscape; the outlook and kinds of local knowledge the presence of farmers brings to a community; the satisfactions of buying food from a farmer you know rather than the supermarket; the locally inflected flavor of a raw-milk cheese or honey. All those things—all those pastoral values—free trade proposes to sacrifice in the name of efficiency and economic growth."
My general feeling about farmers is that they can go fuck themselves. Perhaps this is strong. But farmers also come on strong in their own sort of farmer way. They take a homespun approach but they often wrap themselves up in a hell of a lot of self-righteousness. It all has to do with the land, I suppose, the importance and simplicity of the land. Americans love the simple even if we've been destroying it for generations. A few pithy sayings and we’re eating out of their hands. The farmers.
Emphasis mine -- hey Morgan, think about this for a little while. Where does your food come from? You are in fact "eating out of our hands". Without someone to maintain the soil, work with varying weather conditions and still be able to produce crops to feed your skanky butt, you would be joining your brethren in Zimbabwe. A bit more of this drivel:
What do the farmers really believe, anyway? Have they found something real and timeless as they tarried out in the fields under a summer sun that bronzed their skin and baked their skulls just right? Don't they know that the mute indifference of nature is as terrifying and empty as the noisy scrambling of the metropolis? Surely they know. They just don't want to let on that it is all the same because it would lessen their one advantage to power in the universal will. The one play for the farmer, the one card up his sleeve, is in the mysterious promise that there is something more out there in the rows of growing things, in the peculiar rhythm of the hearth and the harvest. "We’ve got it right," they are saying. But what they are really saying is, “We too will defend our ways, if for no other reason than that they are ours.” City dwellers are rarely so sure of ourselves. We don’t really know what our ways are and we keep changing them before we have the chance to decide. Somewhere, deep down, we realize that it is precisely that changeful not-knowing that we want to defend but we are seduced by the laconic self-assurance of farmer talk.
Heh... "the mute indifference of nature" indeed. I would like to take this little twerp and drop him into any of the wilderness areas I know with sufficient supplies to live for a week and see how he does in three days. I'll even do it in temperate weather. But Master Meis goes on (does he realize that his name is very close to the Arawak name for Corn?), and on, and on in the same heavy turgid thought processes that he dismays the farmer of having, he displays none of the "lightness" that he ascribes to the city dweller. One more quote:
These are plodding thoughts at best. When I read them I think of Nietszche and his abandonment of Wagner in the name of Bizet. Nietszche said, “What is good is light; whatever is godly moves on tender feet.” The farmer crowd lumbers around on feet of clay. They make me want to spend a day with Andy Warhol drinking Coca-Cola and dreaming of a future when we’ll get all the sustenance we need from a small pill we swallow on the subway heading to a rendezvous with people beautiful and famous.
Morgan Meis, if you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods, check out two farmers I know online: Gary Jones at Muck and Mystery Victor Davis Hanson (5th generation grape farmer in the San Joaquin valley of California. Drink a glass of wine? Thank Victor and his neighbors!) I see by your biography that you do a bit of Greek and Latin. Vic Hanson has you over in spades buddy... Oh, and by the way, that's spelled Nietzsche -- not 'Nietszche' Posted by DaveH at September 4, 2007 9:31 PM | TrackBack
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