For the better part of the past 20 years, I’ve been telling my husband that farming is the future. More precisely, I was referring to small-scale farming and gardening.
Self-sufficiency has been a big part of my life goals since as far back as I can remember. I often joke that Maryanne’s coconut cream pies on Gilligan’s Island inspired me. Since I currently live in Hawaii, there’s probably some truth to that.
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Reconnecting With Life: The Benefits of Small-Scale Farming
Modern jobs have little to no relevance to life. Yes, we work to put food on the table, but not in the literal sense. We work at things we hate (as evidenced by how hard it is to find good help, if you’ve ever been in that position) to get money to buy food from a third party.
Once upon a time, however, we had trades: farmer, shoemaker, baker, blacksmith, candlestick maker, seamstress, hatter etc, which enabled us to put actual skill to work in the interest of creating something we could be proud of in a far more concrete way than pushing paper and punching keys to enrich some guy we are unlikely to ever meet.
The Historical Roots of Overwork
A DW documentary I listened to last year on the topic of overwork, which has since been removed, asserted that prior to the establishment of trade guilds in medieval Europe, most people only needed to work an average of three or four hours per day to make ends meet. Activities such as farming, of course, were seasonal requiring extra long days during the growing season, but virtually nothing in the winters.
That all changed when guilds were introduced. At least in theory, guilds protected industries by demanding a certain quality of product, but also kept traveling tradesmen from horning in on local merchants’ and craftspeople’s business. But they also regulated work hours upward. To my mind, this is the genesis of what author and left-leaning anarchist, David Graeber, called, “bullshit jobs“.
Bullshit jobs refers to work people get paid often quite handsomely for at the expense of their true calling, such as a craft or intellectual pursuit. These aren’t jobs that actually contribute to society, but nonetheless are what we base the economy on. In fact, these jobs are more frequently produced by extracting the earth’s resources in exchange for coin, then paper, then plastic, and now simply numbers on a screen.
Such jobs make us merely cogs in a machine designed to keep the greater system — none of asked for — working for those holding the purse strings. In exchange, we get enough money (or numbers) to stay alive and maybe even keep a roof over our heads.
The Limits of Capitalism and Community-Based Solutions
Unfortunately, the unbridled greed of laissez-faire capitalism appears to have reached its limit. We know this because increases in homelessness, for example, is blamed on socialism, which in principle would keep a majority of jobless or low wage people off the street. But caring for fellow human beings is also a threat to corporate greed. Deflecting responsibility is an attempt at self-preservation.
Fear, mandates, coercion and consolidation are the only cards they have left to play. These have also been branded as a perverse form of socialism, when in fact they are totalitarian tactics, which can be superimposed over both socialism and capitalism.
This totalitarian approach, which also aims to revamp all of society into a single monetary system run by computer, world government run by unelected officials and limit access to real food, has had an unintended consequence. The world’s citizens are beginning to realize that at the end of the day, all we have is community. All we have is each other.
While most people aren’t paying attention to the details of what’s happening with money and how government policies are being devised, reducing access to real food ain’t gonna fly. Over the past 30 years, I have witnessed an unprecedented number of folks from all walks of life voting with their dollars, demanding fresh produce and more pastured (uninjected & antibiotic-free) meat, to fix their rapidly declining health, often induced by vegan and vegetarian diets. Such people have seen the dark side already and are not likely to go backwards under any circumstances.
The Resurgence of Farming and Seed Saving: A Response to the Futility of ‘Bullshit Jobs’
Instead, they are seeking out local farmers to provide for the future. Many are turning to farming or gardening on some scale as well. In addition, I have seen an uptick in seed saving and seed exchanging! People are realizing that growing food isn’t bullshit. It’s the basis of life!
This is precisely why so many people have not gone back to their shitty corporate jobs. According to Graeber, a huge proportion of such jobs serve no real function to society at large. Some, such as telemarketing, are outright destructive to our fellow man and demoralizing to the person making a living by doing such a job.
Kids dream of being firefighters, football players, dancers, chefs, mechanics, nurses, doctors, farmers and even homemakers. No child has ever dreamed of being a telemarketer. #bullshitjobsTweet
Graeber’s book, Bullshit Jobs, is an excellent and inspiring listen in the garden to remind you you are on the right path to a brighter future for us all. Capitalism, as we know it, will have to take on a new, more empathic form, if it is to survive at all.
The future of humanity is in our hands. The future of food is on small family farms.
If you enjoy this topic, please read my post on The Advantages of Disadvantages: A Review of David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell