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• I don't agree with everything in this conservative farmer's rant, but it's worth reading.

A great piece on the Harlem Children's Zone.

• Coca-Cola's incredible logo.

• A scatterplot of the relationship -- or lack thereof -- between state tax rates and unemployment.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 3, 2009; 6:35 PM ET
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I was going along with the conservative farmer's points pretty well until he got to the story about 4000 of his friend's turkeys drowning because they were so stupid they looked up during a rain. The idea that turkeys are so stupid that they'll drown in a rainshower is classic urban (or, in this case, rural) legend bs. Google it. Once you've had an opportunity to digest the fact that there's no proof for this old canard about turkeys, then ask yourself how on earth the event described by the conservative farmer wouldn't have been a big news story. I call major bs.

Posted by: nolo93 | August 3, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the nitrogen points seemed reasonable and so did raising the issue of alienation. But the turkey thing, among others, was ridiculous. Also, he played up the whole "attack on farmers" for rhetorical effect nicely--though in the better parts of his essay he seemed to acknowledge that Pollan et al's critique was systemic.

Posted by: Castorp1 | August 3, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

The thing that's so frustrating is that this guy could have shared information that is both useful and necessary. I'm quite aware that there's a lot of ignorance and mythology running the way well meaning people who have no direct experience with agriculture can approach these issues. But then he blows his credibility like that.

Posted by: nolo93 | August 3, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Try googling "pigs eat their young" and you'll find out they only do it when they're stressed, which is a fault of poor farming practices.

(Personally, I don't see much difference between a mother pig eating her young and a mother human eating that very same young for breakfast.)

Posted by: KathyF | August 4, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Ah the Coca Cola logo. Just before my daughter's 3rd birthday she looked out of our car and said (in Italian) "why is 'coca cola' written on that sign." She got around to reading her third word about 1.5 to 2 years later.

Posted by: rjw88 | August 4, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

It's interesting that you characterize Blake Hurst as "conservative" (the fact that he's published through AEI notwithstanding).

Many farmers and agriculturalists would more likely view anxiety or opposition to modern agrotechnologies (e.g., biotech/GM crops, targeted herbicides and pesticides, inorganic fertilizers, larger-scale livestock confinements, hormone treatments for livestock, no-till or strip-till practices, precision/automated farming using GPS and autosteered equipment, and so forth) as a conservative perspective on agriculture - even if that perspective is held by people who would otherwise characterize themselves as liberal in terms of policies.

Posted by: fswoboda | August 4, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

One point Hurst missed is that "Agri-intellectuals" would all like to increase the share of the population that works in farming. This is what's kind of biased about the individual farmer's perspective--they see some technology and think how much labor they'll save, but unskilled human labor is something the world has a surplus of.

Posted by: dcrimbchin | August 4, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I can see why this conservative farmer is writing in a periodical aimed at exurban conservatives; there is so much wrong with this, I don't know where to begin. Pigs didn't last this long by killing their young. Farmers that use hoop shelters are doing fine relative to their confinement brethen, who lose more of their number everyday. A mother pig knows not to toll on her piglets in the wild; farrowing crates raise survival levels relative to breeding in sheds where they were given little room. Joel Salatin is raising plenty of pigs for Chipotle right now.This farmer might not believe it, but this country is at the same level of hog production as it was a century ago; back then numerous people used to have a few pigs in the backyard rather than today's confinement system. And CAFO hogs taste terrible, the industry has turned hogs into chicken. Top chefs that offer porck by breeds raised outdoors with higher back fat on them. I buy pastured pork in NE from a farmer that hasn't had to raise his prices in over 10 years becasue he lets them eat what nature provides rather than feed from Big Ag.

As for nitrogen, don't be fooled, he doesn't look at the nutrition content of contemporary food relative to what was in food years ago or the ong term damage he's doing to the land. I can't even get into the biotech crops isue here, but he should have paid more attention in school to sustainability of ecosystmes rather than parrot what his Monsanto rep tells him.

This farmer seems so offended that urbanites now want a say in how their food is raised, when I'm sure he gives the John Deere rep a time when he wants a new tractor. I could right a book on what's wrong with this guy's argument, but I'll stop.

Posted by: huskerag | August 4, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Re the farmer: the error in his essay that stuck out most for me was his resistance to organic methods on the theory that that would mean farming like his grandparents did, and, similarly, that "organic farming" is what people did for thousands of years before now. While it's true that for thousands of years people didn't use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, that doesn't make their farming organic. Farming is only organic if it meets certain "positive" standards, such as improvement of soil, in addition to the "negative" standards, such as bans on most synthetic chemical inputs. And today's organic farmers don't do things the same way their organic predecessors did, any more than today's conventional farmers do things the way their conventional predecessors did. Someone above mentioned Joel Salatin -- note that on his farm's website they say "The Salatins continue to refine their models to push environmentally-friendly farming practices toward new levels of expertise." (I'm not sure if Polyface Farm is certified organic, but it's surely a close enough stand-in to rebut the notion that organic farming is about freezing farming technology and methodology in time.)

Posted by: JonathanTE | August 5, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

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