Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Farming in America
Ok, so lately I've been really interested in gardening and farming. As such I've been reading this book "Raising Less Corn, More Hell: The Case for the Independent Farm and Against Industrial Food." by George Pyle. Amazing! Reading this book should be a prerequisite to eat in America. It gives a wonderful account of why food in America is so cheap, why American farms are poor and dwindling, and how our system impacts "the global economy." I've also read "Lords of the Harvest" by Daniel Charles, its focus on how American corporations are addressing their belief that starvation occurs because of lack of food-their answer-frankenfood. One of Pyle's points, brain-child of Nobel laurate Amartya Sen, is the fact that people never starve because of lack of food, they starve due to lack of money to buy food. For example, say I am a farmer and I have a wonderful harvest, and my neighbor is starving. I do not give my neighbor food because I can sell it and make money, money he does not have. So I make money for my work, my neighbor starves, American consumers benefit from cheap imported products, and American producers suffer because consumers can find cheap substitutes for the product I am trying to sell. Pyle also describes the problem of the monosopy in the farming market (too many producers-one mega buyer) which drives down prices below the cost of production-and so we have the American farm subsidies. These are gross oversimplifications of what is detailed in the book, but a taste of what drew me in. As I look to the future, I am about to graduate college with a degree in Accounting, I am thinking about taking some time to join the small farm movement to gain experience. My hope that I can gain the knowledge to man some land of my own, and produce my own food. But that does not negate my sympathies for the small farmer-who depends on and cares for his land. He does not rape it as many agricultural corporations do. I am thinking about the impact of a system that just doesn't work. I am thinking what if something could be done?