Farming news …

Farming news …

In farming news, I was heartened by this editorial by Tom Vlisak, Secretary of Agriculture about his plans for revitalizing rural America. There’s still more in there for Big Ag than I really like, especially the biofuels stuff (we still haven’t figured out a way to make a biofuel that doesn’t require more fuel to grow, harvest, ship and process than it generates), but this point cheered me up:

Third, link local farm production to local consumption. Investments in local processing and storage facilities will allow for large scale consumers (e.g. schools, hospitals, small colleges) in rural communities to buy locally produced goods from smaller scale operations. These new and niche markets will leverage the wealth generated from the land, create jobs and repopulate rural communities.

Michael Pollan’s twitter feed (I’m still trying to get a handle on twitter — it’s a great time-waster, and I’ve found links to interesting things, but I think there’s something I’m still not getting). Anyhow, via Michael Pollan’s twitter feed, I found this link to an interview with Joel Salatin in the Guardian UK. Although he talks about a lot of really interesting topics in the profile, including the incursion of superbugs into our food supply, the problem of antibiotic overuse, land use models (which I wonder how well they’d translate to someplace like this where it doesn’t rain much), as well as speaking with real self-awareness about how he and his wife have handled his public career, I thought I’d pull this quote for those few people who have occasionally taken issue with my stance on eating meat:

The first thing I ask Salatin when we sit down in his living room is whether he’s ever considered becoming a vegetarian. It’s not what I had planned to say, but we’ve been in the hoop houses with the nicely treated hens, all happily pecking and glossy-feathered, and I’ve held one in my arms. Suddenly it makes little sense that this animal, whose welfare has been of such great concern, will be killed in a matter of days. Naive, I know, and Salatin seems surprised. “Never crossed my mind,” he says. The problem that’s leading the “animals-are-people movement”, as he refers to it, is two-fold, in his view. First: “The industrial food system is so cruel and so horrific in its treatment of animals. It never asks the question: ‘Should a pig be allowed to express its pig-ness?’ And the second thing of course is the urbanisation of the world, to the point where people are not now connected to their ecological umbilical, so that the only connection anyone has to an animal is a pet cat or a pet dog. And that really gives you a very jaundiced view of cycles of life – death, regeneration.”

7 thoughts on “Farming news …

  1. Yes, I’ve been thinking that. We’re all connected, I suppose—but the question is: to what? I’m sure there’s an inverse relationship between this “social networking” online and the “ecological umbilicus,” or whatever other term we want to use for our bodies and the earth.

    But I need to understand, at least, what Twitter is. I need to know what the tools are—and both the advantages and real cost.

    So when you find out, Charlotte, let me know.

  2. Still working on figuring out “the Twitter” Chris — although Skype is useful. Had a nice chat with my dad in Prague this morning that wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t both seen that the other one was on line.
    Vlisack’s call for better broadband connection in rural areas is a good one though — Bonnie at Ethicurean is doing a lot of work with small meat producers to sell online, and to use “social networking” as a marketing tool. We’ll see. Important to remember though to get off the screen and go outside, talk to a real person, grow a plant etc … once in a while.

  3. Here’s how I put it in a comment on Six Pixels’s post on “No More Websites. Only Publishing::

    “Thank you. This is all new to me, a quasi backwoods luddite, in the sense of things you name here that I’ve felt intuitively.

    A new tribalism, yes. No, we don’t want to enter static environments any more. But ultimately we don’t want to live in surrogate environments either. Or, not only there. We’re all connected, yes, but the question is: to what? And if it’s only to ourselves, if it’s only within a nice neat solipsistic circle, that, for all the apparent charisma and charm will only be another death-knell, too.

  4. I don’t mind urban vs. rural so much (they both have pros and cons!) as I just don’t want to eat, live, play, or work (or whatever) in an institution of any kind. I just want to be in the real world of people. Not cubes or desks or giant buildings that all look the same. It’s soul-killing.

    I also really wish I had a plot of land to put seeds in. I have been drooling over the Baker Creek catalog for days.

  5. Katie — bring that cute new baby up here and you guys can plant all you want! But maybe pots on the patio? Herbs, some tomatoes? Green beans are always fun for little kids — when I lived in Hayward I trained them up a string trellis against the fence …

  6. The little back porch is already full of toys, a grill, and the plants we brought (two trees, a huge hibiscus, and some random roses and herbs). There’s no room in the front, unless I want to trip people coming to the front door. 😀

    When I was a kid, we rented a little plot of land for a few years and grew stuff. I’m not sure if there’s anything like that around here that would be close enough that I could drag three little kids to it often enough to grow anything. Even the old cherry orchard is long gone and turned into shopping and apartments. But I shall look!

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