A compelling collection of more than 150 full-color and black-and-white photographs offers profiles of farming families across the United States, capturing the heart and soul of the nation's farm communities and their rural culture in every region of America. 25,000 first printing.
Author: Paul Conkin
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Release Date: 2008-09-01
At a time when food is becoming increasingly scarce in many parts of the world and food prices are skyrocketing, no industry is more important than agriculture. Humans have been farming for thousands of years, and yet agriculture has undergone more fundamental changes in the past 80 years than in the previous several centuries. In 1900, 30 million American farmers tilled the soil or tended livestock; today there are fewer than 4.5 million farmers who feed a population four times larger than it was at the beginning of the century. Fifty years ago, the planet could not have sustained a population of 6.5 billion; now, commercial and industrial agriculture ensure that millions will not die from starvation. Farmers are able to feed an exponentially growing planet because the greatest industrial revolution in history has occurred in agriculture since 1929, with U.S. farmers leading the way. Productivity on American farms has increased tenfold, even as most small farmers and tenants have been forced to find other work. Today, only 300,000 farms produce approximately ninety percent of the total output, and overproduction, largely subsidized by government programs and policies, has become the hallmark of modern agriculture. A Revolution Down on the Farm: The Transformation of American Agriculture since 1929 charts the profound changes in farming that have occurred during author Paul K. Conkin’s lifetime. His personal experiences growing up on a small Tennessee farm complement compelling statistical data as he explores America’s vast agricultural transformation and considers its social, political, and economic consequences. He examines the history of American agriculture, showing how New Deal innovations evolved into convoluted commodity programs following World War II. Conkin assesses the skills, new technologies, and government policies that helped transform farming in America and suggests how new legislation might affect farming in decades to come. Although the increased production and mechanization of farming has been an economic success story for Americans, the costs are becoming increasingly apparent. Small farmers are put out of business when they cannot compete with giant, non-diversified corporate farms. Caged chickens and hogs in factory-like facilities or confined dairy cattle require massive amounts of chemicals and hormones ultimately ingested by consumers. Fertilizers, new organic chemicals, manure disposal, and genetically modified seeds have introduced environmental problems that are still being discovered. A Revolution Down on the Farm concludes with an evaluation of farming in the twenty-first century and a distinctive meditation on alternatives to our present large scale, mechanized, subsidized, and fossil fuel and chemically dependent system.
A protégé of Michael Pollan shares the story of a little known group of renegade farmers who defied corporate agribusiness by launching a unique sustainable farm-to-table food movement. The story of the Lentil Underground begins on a 280-acre homestead rooted in America’s Great Plains: the Oien family farm. Forty years ago, corporate agribusiness told small farmers like the Oiens to “get big or get out.” But twenty-seven-year-old David Oien decided to take a stand, becoming the first in his conservative Montana county to plant a radically different crop: organic lentils. Unlike the chemically dependent grains American farmers had been told to grow, lentils make their own fertilizer and tolerate variable climate conditions, so their farmers aren’t beholden to industrial methods. Today, Oien leads an underground network of organic farmers who work with heirloom seeds and biologically diverse farm systems. Under the brand Timeless Natural Food, their unique business-cum-movement has grown into a million dollar enterprise that sells to Whole Foods, hundreds of independent natural foods stores, and a host of renowned restaurants. From the heart of Big Sky Country comes this inspiring story of a handful of colorful pioneers who have successfully bucked the chemically-based food chain and the entrenched power of agribusiness’s one percent, by stubbornly banding together. Journalist and native Montanan Liz Carlisle weaves an eye-opening and richly reported narrative that will be welcomed by everyone concerned with the future of American agriculture and natural food in an increasingly uncertain world.
Author: J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Release Date: 1998
`to the European, the American is first and foremost a dollar-fiend. We tend to forget the emotional heritage of Hector St John de Crevecoeur' When D.H. Lawrence made this statement in his Studies in Classic American Literature, he was thinking of the Letters from an American Farmer. First published in England in 1782, the Letters came at a timely moment as attention was focused on America in the closing year of the Revolutionary War of Independence. Crevecoeur's famous question `What, then, is the American, this new man?' was a matter of great interest, as it became evident that America, that new nation, was taking shape before the eyes of the world. Some of American literature's most pressing and recurrent concerns are adumbrated in the substance and style of the Letters: in addition to the question of American identity, they celebrate the largeness and fertility of the land, personal determination, and freedom from institutional oppression. Darker and more symbolic elements complicate the initially sunny picture, however: the issue of slavery is raised in a particularly disturbing episode, and the final Letter, `Distresses of a Frontier Man,' dramatizes the disintegration of the rational enlightened society of agrarian America into a nightmare of confusion, incomprehension and premonitions of unspeakable evil. Written by an emigrant French aristocrat turned farmer, the Letters from an American Farmer has a good claim to be regarded as the first work of American literature, at once intensely interesting in its own right, and casting a long shadow of influence on both subsequent American writers and European travel accounts of the moral, spiritual and material topography of the new nation.
Author: J. M. Coetzee
Release Date: 2017-05-30
A story told in prose as feverishly rich as William Faulkner's, In the Heart of the Country is a work of irresistable power. J.M. Coetzee's latest novel, The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking. Late Essays: 2006-2016 will be available January 2018. On a remote farm in South Africa, the protagonist of J. M. Coetzee's fierce and passionate novel watches the life from which she has been excluded. Ignored by her callous father, scorned and feared by his servants, she is a bitterly intelligent woman whose outward meekness disguises a desperate resolve not to become "one of the forgotten ones of history." When her father takes an African mistress, that resolve precipitates an act of vengeance that suggests a chemical reaction between the colonizer and the colonized—and between European yearnings and the vastness and solitude of Africa. With vast assurance and an unerring eye, J. M. Coetzee has turned the family romance into a mirror of the colonial experience.