Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 | Author:  | 1,704 views - starting Aug 9/09

barn toolsas i stood, gazing at the pile of tools resting neatly against the barn wall, listening to the gentle choir of contented cows, and floating on the light cleanliness of farm-life air, i deeply understood the plight of the small farmer, the migration of aspiring entrepreneurs and restless youth to urban centres, and the paradox of the “you-can-have-it-all-American-Dream” …

historically, when small, traditionally vagrant individuals and families began to settle more permanently in agricultural communities, everyone had a delegated role to fulfill to secure their own survival, that of their family, and, to varying degrees, that of their resident community … the labour was intense, mundane, and continuous … life was simple … day-to-day survival was paramount … the air was clean … water sparkled and flowed free of non-biodegradable synthetic chemicals … in vicarious retrospection, pastoral life may seem grand or tedious, depending on your perspective …

today, an increasing number of people living in intensely populated and polluted cities long for the simplicity and freedom of pre-industrial era lifestyles … however, life was not necessarily free of problems during those times, and certainly not everyone enjoyed a stupendous state of physical or mental health …

while approximately 30% of the world’s human population still lives and works in agrarian communities today, contemporary rural life is becoming increasingly complicated by the merging and permeating influence of global markets, reflex reactions from the industrialization of agriculture, and the pervasiveness of chemical and physical pollution …

prior to the industrial revolution, human creativity, insight and ingenuity somehow inspired visions of a life defined by convenience, freedom from tedious labour, mechanization of simple tasks, and indulgence in the luxuries of ‘free time’ and extraneous commodities … relatively quickly, these predictions became reality … animal husbandry coupled with the evolution of technology spawned greater surpluses of food production with a concomitant decrease in the time and labour input required to grow sufficient crops and livestock to feed growing populations …

over time, this set a stage for the redistribution of agricultural labour … an increasing number of people did not have to toil on the land to reap the food required for their own sustenance … the amount of time and energy spared as a result of this social and economic shift spawned the migration of labour to non-rural settlements …

however, increasing urban populations simultaneously — and often disproportionately — increase market demand for agricultural goods … to satisfy the food needs (arguably wants) of city-dwellers, agricultural practices necessarily require intensification of output by industrial and mechanical means; inevitably, at a cost to the environment and reared livestock … old farm tractor

the continued need for agricultural produce precipitates the consolidation of family-owned nuclear farms by industrialized conglomerate companies … the point at which the balance between these disparate but mutually dependent societies and economies shifts toward an arguably unsustainable state is difficult to pin-point …

most city folk are so far removed from the realities of food production because the ease and speed with which food is obtained — purchased either as groceries from supermarkets or as prepared food from restaurants — is vastly separated from the amount of labour and resources required to produce that food … therefore, urban residents tend to value food and agriculture less than they deserve …

long grain ricea popular Phillipine adage reminds that “each grain of rice one wastes is equivalent to a drop of sweat of a farmer” … think about your food, where it comes from, how it is produced from soil to seed to plant to fruit or vegetable or seed …

how can you increase your appreciation for the conveniences that shape your life? how can you minimize your consumption, environmental impact, waste production?

Category: General
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3 Responses

  1. 1
    Centella 

    Wow! This is fabulous! I can’t believe you were able to condense all of this history into a concise account and general overview of how we’ve destroyed our traditional farming practices. Having grown up on a farm and now being an avid gardener (and somewhat disheartened city dweller), I appreciate your perspective on the plight of the humble farmer who has not “sold out” to corporate agri-megopolies.

  2. 2
    Ken Eustachen 

    My sister in law works in human resources for an organic compost company. She even doesn’t know why they made all the little farms into a big one. Once i was looking at a magazine and i saw a picture of sunflowers growing on a meadow. When my best friend Terry died last year his mother said that he bought the farm. I didn’t know that she was lying but i still think that meadow is Terry’s farm. It’s a medium sized one.

  3. 3
    Steve Johnson 

    For realzies Centella!

    This is the kind of bamboozling of the man at the bottom that is pervasive in this world. Does this mean that I should believe their fiction?