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Jay Porter

Seems to me that Ms. Flanagan's argument is built on the meme that the industrialization of agriculture has freed us from being servants of the land. You know, that petroleum and machines and fertilizers have allowed us to leave the farm and seek happiness in the suburbs, just like we've always wanted. To me, that's a simplistic -- and willfully ignorant -- trope.

How many of those immigrants -- or, perhaps, immigrants from rural states to coastal states -- were in fact forced to leave when the economy of their states or regions dried up. How many Iowans and Nebraskans have no choice but to leave their dying town, get a degree from a land-grant university, and aim for a job at Initech? How many families in Mexico have been forced north when their traditionally planted land was replaced with mono-cropped Monsanto-style commodity?

A community able to garden enough to feed itself might be beneath Ms. Flanagan, but for a lot of people, the possibility participating in that community beats the hell out of filling out TPS reports.

Our country, through policy decisions, has replaced almost all of our farmland, traditionally maintained by people to grow food that people can eat, with industrial cropland, maintained by machines, fed by petroleum, growing food that can only be either processed, fed to industrial livestock, or fed to machines (ethanol).

If we don't teach by-people-for-people agriculture in the school, who will do it the future? And without it, we're consigned to an existence of Brawndo and Frosted Flakes.

The Gurgling Cod

Thanks for the thoughts, Jay. I did not intend an endorsement of CF's article, but thought it was worth sharing. For now, I'll hedge and say that the article and your response suggests the ideological volatility of the intersection of agriculture and class.


Ha. Never enough WGS allusions I say. My nickname for Whole Foods is "The Plantation" for similar reasons.

Jay Porter


I completely agree with you about the intersection of agriculture and class (and knew you weren't endorsing Flanagan's argument).

I propose there's been a vicious circle driving down the class/class-perception of agriculture, as corporations push the idea that agricultural work is low-class (in order to drive family/community/small farming out of business), and in turn replace small farms with consolidated corporate food plants that employ/exploit only the least-skilled, lowest-class workers.

When people rail against the real-food/small-farm movement as elitist, I think it perpetuates that cycle. Not that there aren't plenty of elitist people involved with the real-food/small-farm movement, of course. The fact that there are plenty, give the criticisms unfortunate staying power.

Jay Porter

I should have written "as part of driving", not "in order to drive".

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