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Farm wars

(article, Culinate staff)

On his blog, Mark Bittman recently pointed readers toward a essay by Russ Parsons about American agriculture. Titled "The Facts About Food and Farming," the piece explores the divided state of American farm politics today:

bq. On the one side, the hard-line aggies seem convinced that a bunch of know-nothing urbanites want to send them back to Stone Age farming techniques. On the other side, there's a tendency by agricultural reformers to lump together all farms (or at least those that aren't purely organic, hemp-clad mom-and-pop operations) as thoughtless ravagers of the environment.

As Parsons notes, any lasting change in the way America farms has to be grounded in reality. And abstract ideals are nice on paper but not always useful in the field:

bq. The world is not black and white. The issues facing agriculture today are much more complicated than lining up behind labels such as "local" and "organic," no matter how praiseworthy they might seem in the abstract.