Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Becoming Georgic

By Oliver DeMille

JUNE 2008

“When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization.”
(Daniel Webster, Remarks on Agriculture)

We all depend upon food virtually every day for our health, security and relationships. But perhaps many of us have not arrived at the obvious conclusion: Food is Classic! The more we study it, the more we learn. In spite of our almost hourly reliance on food, few people study Georgics enough. In times of recession, a family garden can save a household thousands of dollars per year.

There is an even bigger secret: The Conveyor-Belt grocery system doesn’t offer many of the best foods! They are only available to those who raise them or to those who go directly to such an “Original Source”. It is ironic that many people prefer more highly-refined foods (the nutritional equivalent of video games) while they consider whole foods, fruits and vegetables to be less appealing. The irony is that modern agri-business systematically puts less flavorful produce in the stores in the name of efficiency and prolonged shelf-life. The modern system of food production and delivery is truly a conveyor belt, and the products are the textbook variety.

Since 1950, the number of family farms in the United States has decreased weekly. This impacts not only our food supply but our nation’s store of Georgic knowledge. The great test of our generation’s freedom is not the right to bear arms, but the ability to provide for ourselves. We educate our youth for technology, but not for self-reliance and basic georgic sustainability. Our reliance on healthcare to treat preventable lifestyle diseases is rivaled only by our reliance on the food supply that delivers that lifestyle.

If this were not a great enough concern, consider the following: multiple factors are threatening this conveyor-belt food supply. From the widely-reported disappearance of the honeybee to the cost of fuel for transport, astronomical increases in the price of grains, weak performance of the dollar abroad buying less at higher price from foreign importers, and the uncertain prospects for the agriculture labor force due to immigration reform, families are seeing their food budget buy less and less every month.

In food production as in education, it is difficult to envision or practice what we have not experienced. Too often those who do keep a garden model their choices after what is commonly available at the grocery store and their techniques after those used by the conveyor belt agri-business. A mentor with a different experience can totally revolutionize our vision and leverage our success. I invite you to learn how to provide for your family healthy food choices they love at a fraction of what you’re now spending on food, and how to create an income doing it in as little as fifteen minutes a day!

Oliver DeMille was President of George Wythe College.

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