The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals
By Blake Hurst Thursday, July 30, 2009
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.
Young turkeys aren't smart enough to come in out of the rain, and will stand outside in a downpour, with beaks open and eyes skyward, until they drown.
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. Read More
So many people that I talk to that have read Pollan’s books continue to tell me that his ideas sound very reasonable. But as the old saying goes, if it sounds to good to be true then it probably is. As I have said many times before, Pollan’s plan to feed the world would fall woefully short. It’s easy to be a farmer when you are writing a book, but it’s a much different story when you have 9 billion people looking to you to supply them with life-sustaining food. The worst part is that Pollan knows better but his quest to sell books has overwritten the things I taught him several years ago. He continues to sensationalize his story for his own personal gain.