Omnivore's Dilemma

I've finally started reading Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma. I've had it for over 6 months and am only getting started on it now. I'm only on page 57 and it's already gotten me pissed off multiple times as well as given me quite a few things to think about.

For example, in 1919 a typical farmer in the USA would be able to support his family and 12 other people, producing on average 20 bushels of corn per acre. And at that time about one in four people living in the USA lived on a farm.

Contrast that with today when there's only 2 million farmers yet those few produce most of the food that we need--and in many areas a lot more than we need. Each farmer now produces enough food for 129 people and each acre of land grows 200 bushels of corn. Each number about a 10 fold increase in less than 90 years.

The reason for this change? Improved crops, of course, particularly corn, as well as using better equipment such as tractors instead of horses. But it goes deeper. This huge increase in productivity is also due to the American farmer moving away from self-sufficiency and towards monocultured crops. Corn and soybeans monopolize the farms in the US to the point where few farmers even eat what they produce on their farms. Kinda ironic.

Anyway, I'd better post this before Blogger fails out again. It's not been a very good day today for Blogger.

Comments

srp said…
Some of my relatives farm in Southern Illinois. I think the farmer's wives have the task of the family garden.. at least they always have in the past. Most still have chickens and a few sheep but they have gotten away from keeping cattle.
Noi Rocker said…
This seems like an interesting read. I am banned from buying any more books in an effort to stop turning my room into a library.
kitchenmage said…
This is in my stack of things to read. Right after the other dozen books. I'm with Noi Rocker on the library thing, except that I am still shopping.
Carmi said…
You have given me much to think about as I cycle past the farmers' fields that start just north of my neighborhood.

I wish I had the backbone to be more rural in my outlook and lifestyle.

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