The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against
By Blake Hurst
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Farming has always been messy and painful, and bloody and dirty. It
still is. This is something the critics of industrial farming never seem
I’m dozing, as I often do on airplanes, but the guy behind me has been broadcasting nonstop for nearly
three hours. I finally admit defeat and start some serious eavesdropping. He’s talking about food, damning
farming, particularly livestock farming, compensating for his lack of knowledge with volume.
I’m so tired of people who wouldn’t visit a doctor who used a stethoscope instead of an MRI demanding
that farmers like me use 1930s technology to raise food. Farming has always been messy and painful,
and bloody and dirty. It still is.
But now we have to listen to self-appointed experts on airplanes frightening their seatmates about the
profession I have practiced for more than 30 years. I’d had enough. I turned around and politely told the
lecturer that he ought not believe everything he reads. He quieted and asked me what kind of farming I
do. I told him, and when he asked if I used organic farming, I said no, and left it at that. I didn’t answer
with the first thought that came to mind, which is simply this: 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.
He was a businessman, and I’m sure spends his days with spreadsheets, projections, and marketing
studies. He hasn’t used a slide rule in his career and wouldn’t make projections with tea leaves or
soothsayers. He does not blame witchcraft for a bad quarter, or expect the factory that makes his product
to use steam power instead of electricity, or horses and wagons to deliver his products instead of trucks
and trains. But he expects me to farm like my grandfather, and not incidentally, I suppose, to live like him
as well. He thinks 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. I would not presume to criticize
his car, or the size of his house, or the way he runs his business. But he is an expert about me, on the
strength of one book, and is sharing that expertise with captive audiences every time he gets the chance.
Enough, enough, enough.
The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals — Th.
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