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Agricultural Elephant in the Room

Agricultural Elephant in the Room

Abandoned dairy barn, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

I find it strange Americans and, especially, scientists and politicians talk to little, if at all, about agriculture. And yet agriculture gives us food and, surreptitiously, threatens the future.

Vast number of Americans live in large cities like New York, Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Miami, Atlanta, San Francisco and Lost Angeles. These cities have great museums and, possibly, universities, but are agricultural deserts.

City merchants, grocers and government institutions buy most of the food they need for their large population from farmers or agribusiness, which grow food as far away from cities as they can.

The reason for the separation of the city from the country was the original sin of America: the savaging of the Native Americans and the outright theft of their land.

There was a second grabbing of land, what the British called enclosure. This time, during the twentieth century, large farmers and agribusiness put out of business small family farmers. This substantial amount of stolen land made agribusiness and large farmers kings in the countryside.

These agrarian monarchs remade rural America into toxic cornucopia gardens and feudal mills of animal feeding and slaughter, disease factories of pandemics.

Urban food deserts

This political economy employs millions of the most exploited Americans in our midst. This explains, to some degree, the illiteracy and apathy of urban people for what sustains life: food and drinking water.

Urban people don’t know how to grow food. As long as they have the money to go to the “super market,” they will continue to be divorced from life, to the point that, in fact, some have already reached, believing that bread and milk come from the refrigerator.

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