7.20.2015

Food Issues Book Club - Elmer Lapp's Place from Bringing It to the Table

Hello all!  Welcome to the NOiG Food Issues Book Club, wherein I read books about food stuff, summarize each book by chapter, and then attempt to apply that book chapter's ideas to the New Orleans food environment and/or my own experiences.  Fun right?!  Check out previous installations here.  I'd love it if you'd read along and join in!  And now, without further ado...

Bringing It to the Table: Elmer Lapp's Place, 1979

Summary:

Editor's note: This essay frustrated me so greatly that I've been compelled to editorialize throughout my summary.
"The Thirty cows come up from the pasture and go one by one into the barn.  Most of them are Guernseys, but there are also a few red Holsteins and a couple of Jerseys.  They go to their places and wait while their neck chains are fastened.  And then Elmer Lapp, his oldest son, and his youngest daughter go about the work of feeding, washing, and milking."  Emphasis added.
***

"Standing in the stanchion barn while the cows are being milked, I am impressed by how quietly the work is done.  No voice is raised.  There is never a sudden or violent motion.  Although the work is quickly done, no one rushes.  And finally comes the realization that the room is quiet because it is orderly: All the creatures there, people and animals alike, are at rest within a pattern deeply familiar to them all."
Where Berry sees peace, I see broken spirits.

Lapp has spent his entire life on one farm in Pennsylvania.  It is a livestock farm where crops are grown only for animal feed.  It is primarily a dairy operation, and sells to Hershey chocolate manufacturers.  He also breeds horses, fed by the barley grown on the farm.
"But just because his major income is from dairy cows and brood mares, Mr. Lapp does not shut his eyes to other opportunities.  "You stay awake," he says.  He knows what will sell, and so far as his place and time allow he has it for sale.  He feeds three hundred guineas at a time in a small loft.  He raises and sells collie pups.  He sells his surplus of eggs and honey.  Even the barn cats contribute their share of income, for when he gets too many he sells the surplus at the local sale barn."
It's official.  This man disgusts me.  I can understand, if not agree with, a farm that keeps and well tends a small number of animals for food to both eat and sell.  Breeding dogs and horses and other animals purely for profit I cannot abide, and there is no justification for.  And HERSHEY'S ffs?!

This farm, of course, conforms to Berry's good farming standards.  "Underlying the patterns of the farm's productivity is a stewardship of the soil at all points knowledgeable, disciplined, and responsible."  Lapp uses crop rotation and manure from his own animals to maintain soil fertility.  "For a man giftedly practical, Mr. Lapp justifies what he has and does remarkably often by his likes."

And there you have the human justification for use of other animals in a nutshell: "I like it."


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