For years, I’ve seen the No Farms No Food bumper sticker, and wondered what the message was trying to get at. Sure, we need farmers to grow ingredients for food, but that’s such a general need, it’s difficult to get worked up about. Food is good, but it’s when I picture particular foods that I feel motivated. So, I propose the following alternative message: No Farms No Pizza. All of a sudden, I feel a great deal more enthusiastic about farming.
But, let’s be honest about this. Farming isn’t itself at risk as much as farming culture is. You know the image. A farmer’s family has worked the land for generations, and has become part of a local culture of people who all know each other, and meet each other in the parking lot of the local family restaurant, wearing plaid, with a knowing look and a kind of drawl that comes from being steeped in an isolated linguistic tradition. No Farms No Twang.
Of course, we know the truth is that those kind of farmers are in the minority now. Most farmers these days run big corporate operations, and spend most of their time managing spreadsheets in an office rather than running tractors over the dusty ground. Most people with twangy accents live in cities now. So, what’s farming all about, then? It’s about putting fuel in the tanks of urban twangers’ SUVs. Increasing numbers of farmers aren’t growing crops for food at all. No Farms No Ethanol.
What can we do in the face of powerful corporate agricultural interests? We can become activists, defending out national food heritage, and protesting GMOs, and gluten in our salads, and drone warfare in Somalia, and depictions of the baby Jesus in the local art museum, and the imprisonment of Mumia Abu Jamal. If you aren’t planting beans, you aren’t paying attention! No Farms No Peace!
That’s where we come full circle back to food. America, it’s time to give a shuck. Give peas a chance. No Farms No Peas. It’s a self-evident truth. It’s an ultimatum.