Edited extracts from ‘The Future Is the Farmer’

The full five-page text may be read here.

Julian Rose writes:

At a farmer’s fair in Krakow, South Poland, in early May, I spoke to a Romanian peasant. He was demonstrating clay pot making using a foot treadle to spin the plate upon which the pots were being formed by his deft hands.

I remarked how attractive I found this technology due to its lack of reliance upon any electrical power source. He nodded, saying, “No other power required.” The conversation swung to the need to remain independent; independent of state and industry controlled sources of power. Because being dependent upon centralised power, be it energetic or political, means always owing something to someone or something; whereas to be free of such a burden enables one to form strategic relations where one pleases. This form of sharing creates a natural form of interdependence with fellow humans, rather than dependence on governments and corporations . . . After a little he turned towards me and said, “The farmer is the future.”

This struck me as a very profound statement. Many may well cynically laugh at such an idea. In those peoples’ minds is the notion that food will always magically appear from … well … somewhere – and that farmers, that is ‘real farmers’ are an anachronism, a romantic back-drop, a picture postcard of a time gone by.

The majority of people in Westernised societies have long since abandoned any attempt to source their foods from anything other than the most convenient and/or cheapest supermarket stores that carefully screen-out any correlation between the end product and the grower.

The Eastern European peasant family farmer does not know much about what goes on in the corporate run, European Union subsidised, monocultural deserts that churn-out and almost endless supply of nitrate induced, vitamin depleted and pesticide protected – so called ‘foods’. He will not know what the majority of Westernised consumers dump into their trolleys on the way to the check-out desk, car boot and home freezer chest.

He does, however, know that a very strange thing has happened to people over the past few decades. Something that seems to have taken them away from values which, to the good farmer, are pretty much sacrosanct. Values like never wasting valuable resources and living from the fruits of one’s labours. About independence and love of a way of life in the open fields, open air . . . a life which pits man against hardships mostly unimaginable to the upwardly aspiring higher waged supermarket shopper fretting that she must negotiate the precinct without her recently manicured hair suffering any distortion from the unexpected shower of rain that has afflicted the roofless car park.

What the peasant farmer knows – and the consumer doesn’t – is that this shower of rain is actually a vital element in the nurturing process in which he/she is engaged; growing the foods that will feed the family, and if all goes well, providing a small income from the sale of any surplus. What this farmer also knows is that, at any time, the crops and animals under his care might be taken by drought, flood or disease. Might be threatened by wild animals, thieving individuals or interfering officialdom. This farmer lives day in day out with a perpetual level of uncertainty, which becomes so ingrained that it ceases to cause the sort of fear fuelled anxieties that haunt the urbanite. Instead, it becomes an integral part of the way of life.

The foundations of the supermarket society upon which our regular shopper’s aspirations depend – is predicated upon a continuous and uninterrupted increase in the acquisition of wealth. It soon becomes apparent however, that the material source of this wealth is not infinite, but finite; and that callously extracting these finite materials as though they were infinite does much damage to the fabric of the planet and brings much pollution to its vital arteries. So much so in fact, that by the beginning of the twenty first century, alarm bells have been ringing on an almost daily basis, warning of an unprecedented crisis lurking just around the corner – unless substantial remedial action is taken.

This farmer must pay the price for other’s insistence on living in the profit driven, fossil fuelled fast lane of unsuppressed greed. A lane that ultimately leads to global ecocide. He will not be approached by those who depend upon the ‘quality control’ technicians whose role it is to scrutinize the sanitised products which line the supermarket shelves.

Future shock . . .

Then, one day, some shocking news comes across the airwaves of the world. News that the majority of foods on sale in shops and supermarkets are unsafe to eat. That they are the cause of multiple sicknesses and unprecedented rates of cancer and heart disease. Epidemics are also spreading round the world that can no longer be controlled by conventional medicines and which the compromised human immune system is now too weak to fully resist.

A few days later it is admitted that normal resources of water have become largely undrinkable due to high levels of pesticides and hormones which have heavily polluted the rivers and streams that run through the desert-like, agrichemical soaked monocultural farms, whose produce still lines the supermarket shelves.

In hundreds of cities and towns, panic breaks out. People desperately seek advice as to what to do and where to purchase safe foods. The big chain stores try to reassure their customers and the mainstream media calls for people to be calm and listen to the advice of government. But the story is out and the old platitudes cease to have the desired affect.

Chaotic scenes become widespread as people become engaged in panicked attempts to stockpile what they hope are ‘safe foods’. However, the truth is that no one knows what foods are safe or not safe. What water is pure or polluted. What storekeepers are honest or lying. No one had ever thought that anything like this could ever happen; so preoccupied were they with their materialistic concerns, consumer preferences and nine to five jobs. It never occurred to them that they could be collectively complicit in triggering a global crisis of unprecedented proportions.

Not long after this announcement is aired, a group of people nervously gather outside our farmer’s house. A woman with two young children knock tentatively on the door, while some of the others are more openly agitated and even threatening.

The farmer comes slowly to the door and opens it. “What do you want?”

“I want to know if you can sell us any safe food. “My children are hungry and someone in the village said that on your farm the food is still not poisoned,” the woman replied.

The farmer stands silent for a while. Others shout out “We need safe food!”

Eventually he turns to his wife “Well” she says, “You had better let them in.”

………………………………………………

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