Where have our farmers gone?

Sharon from over at Casaubon’s Book has written a great article about the importance of farmers and locally produced food. Here’s an excerpt:

Wendell Berry points out that what we’ve done to our rural communities over the last 100 years is a form of colonialism. Colonialism, as we all know, is the subjugation of a people for the purpose of extracting their wealth from them. And the very first project of colonialism, as Edward Said points out, is to devalue everything the colonized person knows and believes, and to replace it with the culture of the colonizer, so that when you debase and humiliate and destroy the colonized person, rape his land and take its riches, they’ll believe you are doing it for their own good. Could there be a better way of describing what has happened to millions of farmers over the last 100 years? They’ve been told they were hicks and rednecks, that their profound knowledge of their craft and their place was less valuable than professionalized knowledge coming out of agricultural colleges and cities, and their children were encouraged to have contempt for their parents‘s knowledge and to leave for the cities as soon as possible. We told the children of farmers that what people in cities had was knowledge, and what they had was ignorance. Their forests were logged, their minerals mined, their soil stripped, their economies destroyed, families broken apart and towns converted into bedroom suburbs.
This part really struck a chord with me, as it’s an attitude I’ve encountered a lot living in the city. Of course, I might be more aware of it because I long to return to my “redneck” roots. 😀 You can read the rest of the article here.

8 thoughts on “Where have our farmers gone?”

  • Wow! I’m going to have to read the whole article…they seem to have really hit the nail on the head. In Canada the family farm has almost all but been obliterated. I can’t help but wonder if it’s large corporations’ way of more easily promoting their interests to create more profits for themselves i.e. GMO’s, irradiation, pesticides, terminator seeds etc. The really sad thing is that we as a society are loosing a vast amount of valuable knowledge.

  • I like one of Joel Salatin’s rants in the Onmivore’s Dilemma when he said the smartest of the farm kids left the farm for a “better” city life leaving the less creative innovative ones for farming. They tended to follow the ways of big Ag.

    I grew up in the farmland of the Midwest and I can tell you that the communities there are ghost towns. My house was surrounded by thousands of acres of corn or soy fields that were owned by just a couple of farmers. Some of the richest black soil in the country and it was in the hands of a few people. And the crops grown were not even food. In the summer, most people would still by tomatoes from California. I have seen pockets of areas in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa where small farmers are once again returning, but many of them are people dropping out of the city life. It will be interesting to see what the next two decades bring.

  • Good link Cheryl. I added it to mine so I would be able to come back and explore more.
    P.S—she hit on a point that I feel very strongly about to. Why oh Why is it that people always speak as if farming is horrible hard terrible work? I love it even though it can be hard sometimes–but so can everything else. But I would much rather do this than to sit behind a desk all day. Besides in this day, most people with college degrees aren’t earning that much more than farmers—they just do different hard work.

  • Carla – I think that’s definitely part of it. Even more reason to support our farmer’s markets!

    Kansas Crochet Mom – Wear it with pride! ; )

    Burdockboy – It certainly will be interesting to see how things change.

    The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a great book for anyone who would like to explore this topic further.

    Monica – Good point. My husband and I both spent a lot of money getting degrees that neither one of us are using. How smart is that?
    (P.S.I think I’d rather do almost anything than sit behind a desk all day – talk about drudgery!)

  • Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Wendell wrote another article for Orion that talked about the prejudice against country people that nailed it, too. I think it was in March. One day I’m going to sit down and read a whole book of his instead of articles here and there – I really think that he is a prophet.

  • Laurie – That’s good to know, I’ll have to look for some of his other writings. Thanks!

    Christy – Me too (but probably not within the next year). I’m glad you enjoyed the article.
    Good luck!

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