Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ignorance Is Bliss



This picture appeared on my Facebook news feed, and frankly, it pissed me off. The page Knowledge Is Power posted it. I'm sure it was put up just to spark discussion, but what the statement implies belies actual hands on knowledge of how that "acre" is used and works.

Yes, when one compares total acreage in the US, one can see that producing vegetables is a pound for pound winner.

However.

That acre of ground cranking out the tomatoes? Labor freaking intensive and the crop requires a certain temperate zone with lots of water.

That acre of ground cranking out the beef? Chances are it is in grass because that is the only thing that will grow there plus it's being used to hold the soil in place. It's too rough to use for farm ground. It does not have enough available water to grow vegetables. The labor supply is too short to tend to them. The winter temperatures are far too low and the growing season too short.

The undiluted fact is that we aren't completely stupid out here. Potatoes have been tried, along with other crops. What grows out here on tillable ground is wheat and grain sorghums, and corn/soybeans if has enough ground water for irrigation, along with hay and alfalfa. The Ogallalla aquifer is being depleted growing just these things right now - how fast would it drop if some granola munching hippies forced us to grow potatoes and tomatoes? How about the grasshoppers? Can we use pesticides in this brave new farming world? If you want veggies, you'll be spraying.

In order to actually grow that stuff out here, you would have to repurpose the farmground. Working up a bunch of draws and bluffs ain't gonna work, so that grass would have to remain, unless you want all of the ground to end up in New Orleans. Then you are gonna probably have to haul in a bunch of sand to mix in the soil - the clay composition naturally here does not support vegetables. Once again - water. Once again - the huge amount of labor required to tend to the plants and harvest them.

I see a fair amount of veggies grown in Eastern Colorado along the Front Range - stuff like onions and cabbage. Cabbage is harvested by running a wide platform with a row of seats so the workers have a place to sit and pick the cabbage as the platform runs through the field. Onions are harvested mechanically.

But none of those grow here.

It seems people have it in their heads that cattle are raised on grass paddocks like you'd see around Churchill Downs where the racehorses can frolic. Nope. It's the roughest, toughest, driest and most inhospitable ground we've got.

The whole idea of self sustainability depends on the ability to actually grow everything everyone needs within a short radius. Not gonna happen here or about anywhere else. We can raise beef more efficiently and cheaply out here, ship it to you, and still beat the price of locally grown labor intensive stuff. Other areas can raise tomatoes far more efficiently than we can, so if we want tomatoes, they're gonna have to be shipped here.

Self sustainability is a bong influenced pipe dream.

13 comments:

CGHill said...

Not to mention the fact that if we did eat all those potatoes, they'd be screaming "OMG carbs!" There's no pleasing these people.

Earl said...

Gosh, I am glad you get upset about all those clueless folks, but then when the total collapse comes, we won't survive without real knowledge and cooperation. Thanks for a real look behind the feel good intentions.

Earl said...

Gosh, I am glad you get upset about all those clueless folks, but then when the total collapse comes, we won't survive without real knowledge and cooperation. Thanks for a real look behind the feel good intentions.

drjim said...

Most people aren't even as smart as a box of rocks when it comes to farming.

Nursejoan said...

Self sustainabilty just aint gonna happen in 2012 America. Most couldn't survive the hardships of the Little House on the Praire era. Many acres of the best ground (soil, dirt or whatever one calls that stuff we plant in) are covered over with cement and asphalt. Hell - most can't "smell" rain or appreciate earthy smells or even the good old smell of manure - the smell of money!

Jess said...

I've found that most people drop their facade of sustainability when they sniff a sizzling steak on the grill. It's an emotion as strong as the anguish felt when they break their iPhone and can't text their friends.

NotClauswitz said...

An acre of rock is good for mining! Sheesh, I'm glad you came forward and said all that you did.

Bob said...

Yeah, I'm glad you wrote about this, too. What has been the impact of the mention on Instapundit?

Jeffro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffro said...

Bob: I'm gonna do a post about that! And thank you so very much for your efforts, I appreciate that greatly!

creakypavillion said...

And these are people, most likely, who went to college and sat through "Economics 101"!
Did concepts like "marketplace", "exchange of goods", "cost of production", etc ever registered?

Lisa Paul said...

You hit on a lot of good points here. Whenever I get backed into a corner by radical vegans telling me meat is murder, I want to grab them by their lapels and take them out to the family owned farms here in Sonoma -- most of which are raising lamb -- and show how these people are actually protecting and enhancing the land with their efforts -- not to mention that these are people who are raising kids here, supporting the community and paying taxes all with the proceeds of that meat. And a tomato can be an ecologically dreadful thing, especially when you've read Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook. The centerpiece of the book is the toll that's taken when tomatoes are grown in areas of Florida that are suitable only for palmetto grass.

dennisranch said...

I missed seeing this in Facebook or I would have added, Yes and tar and concrete in cities and on roads and streets just grow NOTHING!!!! Well, maybe frustration!!!