Tag Archives: farming

The Agri-Intellectuals and the Omnivore’s Delusion

Playing on the title of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Missouri farmer Blake Hurst pens an extremely well argued and reasoned response to the criticisms the ‘agri-intellectuals’ pile on industrial farmers and their production methods—particularly those rearing livestock.

Farming has always been messy and painful, and bloody and dirty. It still is. This is something the critics of industrial farming never seem to understand.

[…] I deal in the real world, not superstitions, and unless the consumer absolutely forces my hand, I am about as likely to adopt organic methods as the Wall Street Journal is to publish their next edition by setting the type by hand. […] Farmers can raise food in different ways if that is what the market wants. It is important, though, that [non-experts and critics] know that there are environmental and food safety costs to whatever kind of farming we choose.

Of course, this is not to say that Michael Pollan and his ilk are wrong; just misunderstood or wrong on certain subjects.

For example, Pollan’s excellent 2007 article is a fantastic and learned piece, and is still worth reading today (Ben Casnocha has a great summation of the article). His mantra, too, is as valid as ever (Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.).

It’s just worth remembering that there are two sides to every argument. More from The Omnivore’s Delusion:

[Critics expect] me to farm like my grandfather, and not incidentally, I suppose, to live like him as well. [They think] farmers are too stupid to farm sustainably, too cruel to treat their animals well, and too careless to worry about their communities, their health, and their families.

But farmers have reasons for their actions, and society should listen to them as we embark upon this reappraisal of our agricultural system. I use chemicals and diesel fuel to accomplish the tasks my grandfather used to do with sweat, and I use a computer instead of a lined notebook and a pencil, but I’m still farming the same land he did 80 years ago, and the fund of knowledge that our family has accumulated about our small part of Missouri is valuable. And everything I know and I have learned tells me this: we have to farm “industrially” to feed the world, and by using those “industrial” tools sensibly, we can accomplish that task and leave my grandchildren a prosperous and productive farm, while protecting the land, water, and air around us.

via Arts and Letters Daily