I’d meant the day to be relaxing. I’d done a little extra feeding the night before, planning to sleep in the next day. Saturdays are really tough on me especially in the winter. Because of a commitment I’ve made, I don’t get home until after 11pm on Friday nights and still need to see to the ewes, as this is lambing season. Saturday begins in the wee hours so I can load the truck and get to the market before 6am. This combines with my propensity to over indulge my coffee habit to produce a very worn out person by evening. So I’d planned a relaxing, recharging Sunday with sleep, family time, food, and a little reading catch-up.
It was the last one that got me. I’ve been getting an ag newspaper since the beginning of the year. Didn’t order it; didn’t pay for it. They often do this to show their advertisers a certain circulation level to justify ad prices. As I read through the paper, I realized why they need to give away. The farmers they are trying to appeal to are going out of business. They’re the big guys that need to grow hundreds and thousands of acres of commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton) in order to make a living.
It was the back page. You know, the inside back page always reserved for the parting shot. And there was Mr. Black. Yep, I’d read him before. Yep, I knew if I read him this time my relaxing day was gone. And yet, I had to. He didn’t write anything that hadn’t been written before. His game is real simple. Without Monsanto, Dow, and John Deere the world would starve. “Sustainable farming” is just a term used by educated know-nothings that can hardly feed themselves, let alone the rest of the world. The true sustainable farmer is the guy who plants the best GMO seed available, is perpetually in debt to John Deere, and doesn’t farm an acre that isn’t sprayed with some chemical miracle after being juiced up with chemical fertilizer. All other farming is simply “hobby” farming.
After reading that, I decided to check the news headlines for some happy thoughts. And there it was. Our generation has worse health than our parents’ generation. And of course I smiled. Follow the logic here. We have more food and worse health. Just because we can pump out more product per acre doesn’t mean that the product is better. It only means there’s a lot of it. Yes, we can produce 200+ bushels of corn on land that in 1930 yielded 50. But that 1930 corn had far more nutritional value than corn produced last year. So we need to eat more to compensate. Enter the concept of the empty calorie. Now we are on the road to obesity and diabetes, the gifts of modern agriculture. A pharmacy in a supermarket is not a coincidence, folks.
About that “not able to feed themselves or anyone else” jargon. We’re a small enterprise. Yet The Lamb’s Quarter feeds 90 subscribers each year and over 200 market customers each Saturday. We keep pushing the boundaries back each year; and we’re doing it on a farm that only has about 30 tillable acres. What this world needs is not more tech and tractors, but more guys and gals willing to farm. The expansion of the farm workforce is the ultimate cure for the unemployment line. Go learn how to feed yourself and some neighbors.