On Behalf of Soil


…AND IN PRAISE OF THE AMERICAN FARMER

A good friend and I wandered a sunny afternoon’s conversation into the verticals and horizontals of food. We are, as are most of our times, fluent in food gossip, daily and swift, crisscrossing the planet.
We delved into soil content, land use, minerals, the usual suspects. We had firm ideas about what was good and what is not. I recently discovered that eating a little fresh broccoli will absolutely overnight prevent a mere scratch from going to hemorrhage or subcutaneous bruises. Stunning.

Then I made my case about the maligned local soil on planet Earth. Frankly I think the denigration an assault on American farmers and working the land in general, more than science-based wisdom. (Apple Butter Making, Grandma Moses)

We are propagandized about the diminished quality of farmland, so used up and worn out and chemical rich we can no longer benefit from anything popping out its little green shoots.

Well such talk does a great deal for the costly, trendy, and MAYBE improved organic farming business. If you don’t think that’s a major million-acre industry now you haven’t walked beyond the canned veggie aisles at Safeway. Just what sacred 2 virginal acres are being used for this special organic crop that coincidentally is filling by truckloads half of every fresh food department in every store in every city and town of America? And why have we been so successfully trained to pass with disdain the very beautiful non-organic garden fresh produce right next to it.

I don’t have an answer, if it’s a UN plot to get us to give away everything we grow. Or a UN plot to get us to buy everything we eat from elsewhere. Definitely some favorites have been ruined by too clever hybrids and shortcuts and volume demand. The assault on the TOMATO is unconscionable. Nothing but cardboard taste inside a scarlet skin.

But it’s got to be sheer folly to suppose that the earth is incapable of drawing into its need for survival all the benefits deep below the surface, or holding fast to the visits of wind and rain and gentle fog, the flavor of fungus, the nutrients of deadwood, animal nudgings and presence of birds.

If there is anything I’ve observed about all things sharing the planet with me it is that survival even under the most arduous circumstances is the general thrust. Just about everything living wants to do it longer and better. Grandma Moses, American Painter, 1860-1961

Most of all, I would guess that no other culture in the history of man has been as thoughtful a guardian of soil and sea as the protective American farmer. Something, by the way, pushed nicely by capitalism and a free market place, as nobody wants to waste their lives producing something no one will buy.

This ties in nicely with my own theory about the human body. Skin, as my knowledgeable friend in the holistic skin science points out, regenerates about every 28 days inside and out. And although I have gone from feast to famine repeatedly in the course of my life, my taste buds have suffered yet the organism thrives.  I believe that my clever body pulls as much as I need out of Twinkies and a can of sardines as it does from a cornucopia of the major food groups.

In conclusion, I believe we’re being misled.  All those hard working farmers in our rural American land are working very hard to grow beautiful things that will benefit their fellows. They are not in the business for inferior goods, or depleted benefit to the consumer. So I hereby raise a glass, or a cantaloupe or a squash or green bean! to the hard working stewards of America’s farms.  (Grant Wood oil painting)

Your work makes my heart sing in all the fresh vegetable displays I encounter, filled with color and life and memory of your hard work.  And I thank you.

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