James Rebanks, a sheep farmer for north England, recently visited rural America as part of a book tour. It was his first visit to the United States. As he traveled through Kentucky, he was shocked by rural decline.
His words combine astute insight into contemporary rural life and a call to re-think assumptions:
We have all become such suckers for a bargain that we take the low prices of our foodstuffs for granted and are somehow unable to connect these bargain-basement prices to our children’s inability to find meaningful work at a decently paid job.
I have come home convinced that it is time to think carefully, both within America and without, about food and farming and what kind of systems we want.
The future we have been sold doesn’t work. Applying the principles of the factory floor to the natural world just doesn’t work. Farming is more than a business. Food is more than a commodity. Land is more than a mineral resource.
Go to the New York Times to read the whole thing. Truly excellent.
Also: it made the “Most Popular” section of the Times, which indicates how significantly the conversation about rural life has shifted since the election.