Tuesday, March 18

The underground egg trade

Last week, a friend of ours set up a brief appointment with us, "meet me at the back of the church right after service." When the time came we obliged and followed her out to her car, where she produced a small bag. We promptly handed her a few bills in exchange for the bag and she drove off. What was the purpose of this shadowy exchange? Chicken eggs.

With capable apologists like Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver, many Americans are discovering the advantages of locally produced foods. Perhaps this is simply a reincarnation of the back-to-the-land ethos from the 60's, but in other ways it seems to be both more far-reaching and more grounded in the practical reality of the modern economy. The New York Times ran an article about how some educated urbanites have moved into the countryside in order to begin small farms. And they are actually finding viable careers. I thought this particular experience was telling,

"Ms. Wimbish grew up in Tulsa, Okla., a child of the suburbs, and it wasn’t until she moved to New York that she discovered farmers’ markets and the politics of food. She worked the last two summers at Hearty Roots and became hooked on the agrarian life. 'Moving to New York City,” she said, “was what first got me interested in food and farming.'"

Moving to New York City inspired farming?! How counterintuitive, yet it does bear a certain logic. I've blogged before about how urbanism and agrarianism can coexist in a sort of symbiotic relationship, while the blurring of those boundaries evident in the suburbs actually destroys both.

Rod Dreher has this to add about the urban role of sustaining local agriculture,

"Notice that this back to the land agrarian movement is only possible because people who live in the city are willing to buy what the small farmers produce. That's why it's important not to adopt a false duality, and this idea that if you don't drop your urban life and head for the hills, you're some sort of hypocrite. Not everybody is cut out for rural farming -- me, I'm the second coming of Jean de Florette -- but we who are living in the cities and the suburbs can and should help support these farmers by buying the fruit of their land and their labors."

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