Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist and former farm boy, once wrote: “[T]he central problem with modern industrial agriculture… [is] not just that it produces unhealthy food, mishandles waste, and overuses antibiotics in ways that harm us all. More fundamentally, it has no soul.”
That’s the driving ethic of the thriving “good food movement.” It rebuts the insistence that agriculture is nothing but a business.
Food certainly is a business, but it’s a good business — literally producing goodness — because it’s a way of life for hardworking people who practice the art and science of cooperating with Mother Nature, rather than always trying to overwhelm her.
Small-scale farmers don’t want to be massive or make a killing. They want to farm and make delicious, healthy foods that enrich the whole community.
This spirit was summed up in one word by Lee Jones, a sustainable farmer who was asked what he’d be if he wasn’t a farmer. He replied: “disappointed.” To farmers like him, food embodies our full “culture” — a word that is sculpted right into “agriculture” and is essential to its organic meaning.
Although agriculture is now flourishing throughout the land and has forestalled the total takeover of our food by crass agribusiness, the corporate powers and their political hirelings continue to press for the elimination of the food rebels and ultimately to impose their vision of complete corporatization.
The Good Food movement is one of today’s most important populist struggles. It’s literally a fight for control of our dinner, and it certainly deserves a major focus as we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this year.
To find small-scale farmers, artisans, farmers markets, and other resources in your area for everything from organic tomatoes, to pastured turkey, visit www.LocalHarvest.org.
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. OtherWords.org