Thursday, February 10, 2011

Feed Yourself

Check out this FPR post called "Agriculture vs. Agribusiness".

You hear about the small number of farmers in America, but I can tell you that the number is even smaller than reported. A good many of the "farmers" are agribusiness people, engaging in huge operations financed by bank lines of credits, funded by taxpayer subsidies, and often heavily connected -- one might say "chained" -- to Monsanto, Cargill, or ADM.

Not all big dairy, hog, beef, or poultry operations are that way, but I would guess that almost all really big corn and soybean operators do water at the corporate trough. Without Big Corn -- and relatively cheap corn -- the big livestock operations will run into problems.

There's a poignant line from Winter's Bone that sticks in my head. The heroine, speaking of her younger siblings, says, "I got two at home that can't feed theirselves", meaning they are too young to provide for themselves.

Apart from the excesses of corporate farming underwritten by cheap, plentiful fossil fuels and petroleum-based fertilizers, I'd say we have about 100 to 150 million Americans that can't feed themselves.

Don't be one of them.


  1. One thought......even most farmers can't feed themselves if they can't get petrol. We have worked hard to have everything to hay with horses; but most farms would simply die off if left with no fuel. One might look to old fashioned implements instead of roto-tillers.

  2. You are very correct. We generally use a small tiller, but we use mostly raised beds which could all be worked by hand. I also have fruit trees, strawberries, and blackberries which require little mechanical work -- though the strawberries are hard on my rapidly aging back.

    We have lots of Amish folks in the neighborhood. It's interesting to see them working in the summer and to know that my parents, grandparents, and even my older siblings worked that same way. It's good to know primitive stuff.