Why Does This Man Hate Commercial Agriculture?

That is the title to a piece in this month’s Progressive Farmer.  The piece is about Michael Pollan.  I’m not kidding.  The headline makes me wonder what they mean by “commercial.”  Evidently, to the Progessive Farmer  folks, “commercial” is a synonym for “industrial.”

PF magazine has been around a long time.  I remember that my Grandpa got it when I was a little boy.  Maybe it once really was “progressive.”  Today it’s filled with ads from chemical companies, and, judging from this article, they must “hate” small farms and farmer’s markets.

Here is a really remarkable sentence from the piece: “Agriculturalists see the growing popularity of Pollan’s views as a manifestation of people moving even farther away from the farm.”

Who are these “agriculturalists”?  Indeed, what the heck is an “agriculturalist” anyway?  I believe farmers endore “Pollan’s views.”  What we need are more farmers and fewer “agriculturalists.”

And the notion that the popularity of “Pollan’s views” manifest “people moving even farther away from the farm” is just weird.  The reality is that thanks in part to Omnivore’s Dilemma, farmer’s markets, and the market for locally produced organic food, is booming, no doubt to the chagrin of “agriculturalists.”  Small farms, which can be as small as a backyard garden, are popping up everywhere.  To anyone paying attention, it is clear that “Pollan’s views” are moving folks closer to farms, even as it drives them farther from the industrial abominations run by “agriculturalists.”

Here is another amazing bit from the article: “(Rick) Tolman (CEO of the National Corn Growers Association) takes umbrage with Pollan’s view that farmers are industrialized.  He explains ‘industrialized agriculture’ translates into companies supplying inputs to farmers and those companies processing food.”

Honestly that’s what it says.  I didn’t make that up.  Mr. Tolman, expressing his “umbrage” at the accusation that industrial farms exist, purports to refute the claim by saying that “companies supplying inputs to farmers and those companies processing food,” is somehow not “industialized” farming. 

Let’s break it down.  “Companies supplying inputs to farmers” means chemical companies selling nitrates and poisons to corporations that own industrial food production facilities (sometimes euphemistically called “farms”).  “Those companies processing food” translates to factories extracting and reconstituting any marketable and marginally digestable byproduct of real food into something they can coat in preservatives, wrap in plastic, put inside colorful boxes, and pass off as “food.”  But that, according to the umbrage-taking Mr. Tolman, is not “industrialized” food. 

I could go on, but y’all got my drift by now.

We at Billsblog give a great big tip ‘o the cap to Michael Pollan and all those who have come to appreciate real food.  May their tribe increase.

Love Wins.