Thursday, June 14, 2012
A friend of mine alerted me to a new Verlyn Klinkenborg op-ed in the New York Times, in which the aging farmer/wordsmith notes the passing of his father's generation, with the deaths earlier this month of his last surviving aunt and uncle.
In it he writes that he "can just barely grasp how much the home farm has changed since Everon (his recently-deceased uncle) was born. Even when I was young, it was still biologically complex, full of different animals and various crops and a huge garden. The place is economically more complex now — managing loan and insurance programs, subsidies and incentives — but it is biologically simple: corn, soybeans, no animals, no garden."
This is mainly a family remembrance, so Klinkenborg makes no further comment on the implications of the agricultural transformation to which he calls our attention, how any diversity of use is sacrificed to financial considerations and industrial production techniques producing industrial products. He only hints at what's been lost in the transition, how industrial agriculture wrecks the land and spells dietary disaster for both the people and animals who consume its "produce." For a full examination of that, you have to read that other great farmer/writer, Wendell Berry.