Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth
by Eric Herm
Dreamriver Press, 2010
Eric Herm grew up on a cotton farm in Texas and now is a farmer himself. This background and a lot of reading and research give him a well-informed perspective on the state of farming and our culture in general today. We know that farming in the U.S. has declined considerably in the last fifty years or so, but in fact it has declined all over the world.
There are a number of factors contributing to the problem. It doesn’t take Herm long to bring up the subject of genetically modified frankenfood, which naturally leads to a discussion of Monsanto and other biotech agricultural corporations. If you have seen the movie “Food, Inc.” then you know how these monsters operate and how they get away with it. If you are a farmer, you will either join Monsanto or be legally harassed to death.
Herm reveals a fact that was new to me and makes clear how far things are getting out of control. Iraq’s shiny new constitution (or at least its draft version) includes a section that would outlaw the ancient practice of seed saving. Farmers have saved their seeds from year to year as a necessary, integral part of traditional farming since the dawn of agriculture. No normal farmer or human being would even think of passing legislation like this. Even farmers who don’t want to save seeds would have no reason to pass a law restricting the practice. Only a corporation that stood to benefit would pull this trick. The law also specifies that seed can be bought from one of only five companies. It’s no surprise that Monsanto is at the top of the list. Obviously, not only does Monsanto want to dominate a captive market; it wants to outlaw the competition wherever it can get away with it.
Eric Herm has a very integrated view and recognizes the relationship between ideas and disciplines that are often treated as separate, unrelated subjects in our over-specialized, fragmented culture. If you try to farm without knowing anything about economics, for example, you will find out the hard way that there is a very important relationship between the two. Nutrition, biology, agriculture, chemistry, etc., are not disparate, unrelated subjects but allied segments of a unified reality. Weeds and insects have a purpose in agriculture, and you can either fight them (and ultimately lose), or work with them. Herm correctly notes that until we jettison the massively corrupt fiat-based money system, the economics of everything will fail.
Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth is not merely an extended rant about what is wrong with farming or modern culture. Mr. Herm is a man with a vision of how things should work, and he provides specific details of this vision. While I don’t buy into the “peak oil” view, I agree with him that small and local farming is the safer, healthier, more sustainable and economical way to go.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2011.