7.15.2015

Food Issues Book Club - Seven Amish Farms 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: Seven Amish Farms, 1981

Summary:

In the midwest, farms are becoming both larger and more specialized.  Structures from the small farms bought up for expansion lay in ruins.  If these large monocultures are deserts, small, diversified Amish farms are oases of life and activity.

Amish farming practices including diversification of crops and animals, crop rotation, use of manure as fertilizer, and seeding of legumes can restore land that has been spent by modern farming techniques.  Even so, it has become more difficult for the younger generations to begin their own farms without accruing significant debt.  At least in the case of one Amish family, all seven sons have taken up factory work to earn a steady income while establishing their farms.

Amish farming has grown significantly in the past two decades,* while farming as a whole has been on the decline.  Yet their farming practices have been ignored by schools of agriculture and government agencies alike.  "Amish farming has been so ignored, I think, because it involves a complicated structure that is at once biological and cultural, rather than industrial or economic."  Because more than money is generated by Amish farms, an accounting in the typical sense is impossible.  Their farms do have quanifyably lower expenditures, however, because "[t]hey have substituted themselves, their families, and their communities for petroleum."

*In this instance, referring to the 1960s and 1970s.

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