Thursday, May 05, 2005

Before Farming

Okay. So, I'm still in San Francisco. Haven't quite yet left for the farm. Still trying to decide what shoes to bring. A little bit overwhelmed by the mountain of things left to get done before I leave. Avoiding using the first person pronoun. Drinking coffee.

To begin with, there's something I need to put out there - actually, I'll give credit to my friend who I'll call Chicken N. Cookies since he suggested I post this - I am not entirely sure what a tractor does. I think it, uh, plows? or something, but I would most likely get that queston wrong on a short answer test. What I'm trying to say here is that I have a real Dearth of Knowledge about farming. Conceptually, I get it. You plant seeds, they grow, you harvest, voila, food. And at this point I sure can talk a lot of trash about the evils of industrialized agriculture, pesticides, genetic engineering, blahblahblah. But when it comes down to it, if capitalism were to collapse, and bring down our centralized economy, transport infrastructure, and globalized food system with it, and if all of a sudden we were given hoes and spades and told to grow our own food because it's not coming from anywhere else, I'd be totally S.O.L. Granted, that scenario isn't likely to happen anytime soon, but the point here is that I am still a slave to, nay, an enabler, of the system that is in place. True, I may get my groceries at Rainbow (the worker owned food co-op to you non-Bay Area readers), and buy organic, locally grown produce, but I'm not sure even if Rainbow is an alternative as much as it is an improvement.
To use a grim metaphor, imagine if you will that the industrialized food system is a large rodent, and shopping at Safeway is like leaving big chunks of cheese out everywhere for it. Shopping at Rainbow, to me, is like cleaning up the major food scraps but not sealing up the holes in your house so that the rodent can still come back. You're working to get rid of him, but in some ways you're still encouraging him. And this isn't necessarily Rainbow's fault but rather the fact that the system that they're operating in is f-ed and basically unavoidable. People want bread, but we don't grow wheat in California so it has to be shipped here. Same with soy, bananas, coffee, etc. We grow rice here but we probably shouldn't and Rainbow sells it and I eat it. A lot of it. After buying it. With nutritional yeast and Bragg's. That's what I eat it with not what I buy it with. Rainbow still operates in the cash economy.
The totally watertight, rock-solid argument that I'm building towards is that this urbanized, sprawly, car-infested, traffic-plagued, parking lot-riddled environment we're living in isn't working for me. Whenever I drive on I-80 or the L.I.E. (in Long Island, my old stomping grounds) I am amazed that people can stand to live in these cookie cutter houses that are surrounded by roads, highways, and stripmalls, but a good long drive from an open, unfettered field or a mountain without a radio tower on it. In San Francisco, I might be just a short bike ride away from a delicious, organic, fair-trade bar of chocolate, but I know that chocolate was shipped to California on a giant cargo ship or airplane that spewed all kinds of nasty pollutants into the air and water.
To tie in the farm apprenticeship that I'm about to embark on, I have been thinking for a long time that, if the poo hits the fan, I'm going to need to have some skills. I want to know how to remove my appendix with a pocket knife and a bottle of whiskey. I want to know how to turn my urine into drinking water. Uhm, I realize that these are not skills that I will be learning on the farm. Maybe I should've signed up for a wilderness survival course. But I do also want to learn how to grow my own food.
In closing, I would like to pay homage to a lifestyle that should have been and to our ancestors who knew what was up - hunter-gatherers. Sure, they had to worry about the occasional bear or tiger mauling (but so do Seigfried and Roy), and they couldn't watch Deadwood since they probably didn't get HBO, but hats off to their sustainability.
More later,
(soon-to-be) Farmer Tracy


chickenncookies said...

You rock. Enjoy life with the britches and hoes!

Sarah Longstockings said...

Farmer Tracy,
I regret that we never had a chance to commit a final act of ridiculously silly anti-corporate protesting together. Please know, that if you ever want to come and be a radical cheerleader with me and my posse of Fejacks, we'll suit you up in a cunt/birthing shirt and stripy stockings and run amock through the town.
I miss you already- actually I've missed you for like 7 months now. I work across the hall from a WWII vetran now. He's cool and all that, but he doesn't show me pictures of two-headed babies or talk about hos.
So keep posting Farmer Tracy! I'll be reading it, here in the bleak world of timesheets and coffee breaks....
*sarah the redheaded intern

Armando said...


You are the bomb! And you crack me up! Best wishes and a fond farewell! Keep posting you amazing, blond, never on time, corparate agricultiure is evil but its not there fault, person!

Viva la food revolution!

Su amigo


Alan Rorie said...


When is the next instalment?

Megan said...

Oh long lost spinning partner. Know that Chan's glistening shoulders just don't have the same sparkle without you there next to me. But what I made this damn username to say is that since you told me you were going to be blogging on the weekend, and there is, as yet, no new pearl of wisdom here, I'm worried that blogger tracy is no more. TRAVESTY.

Please, sir...can I have some more [Tracy blog]??