Please allow me to explain how I ended up at farming the other night. As I mentioned in a previous post I'm currently reading The Line Upon a Wind: The Great War at Sea, 1793-1815. This book details the naval engagements and background surrounding the late 18th century and early 19th century. Obviously this meant that I needed to find out more about that time period and the events that were shaping the European navies. That is how I landed on the Wikipedia entry for the French Revolution ... more specifically the "Causes" section of that page. Within that section I read this ::
Economic factors included hunger and malnutrition in the most destitute segments of the population, due to rising bread prices (from a normal eight sous for a four-pound loaf to 12 sous by the end of 1789), after several years of poor grain harvests. The combination of bad harvests (due to abnormal/severe weather fluctuations) and rising food prices was further aggravated by an inadequate transportation system which hindered the shipment of bulk foods from rural areas to large population centers, contributing greatly to the destabilization of French society in the years leading up to the Revolution.Of course I had to ask myself after reading that ... how does this relate to the 21st century world and what can we learn? Does this mean that if food prices begin to rise in the United States (which they are and they are predicted to keep rising) we will have a revolution on our hands (and heads rolling everywhere ... literally)? Does it mean that Earl Butz and his high-production ideas are the best way possible to farm in order to keep us from experiencing hunger and malnutrition? Does it mean that a food system based on import/export is ideal because it helps us deal with weather fluctuations? Does it mean that maybe a system based on transportation and centralized areas of agriculture is a system that in some senses is destabilizing for a country?
I don't really know what it means, but I do know that it is part of history and that there is something we can learn from it. I am also glad that Wikipedia (and a book about really cool sailing ships) helped remind me just how important farming is in the big picture. And, I am thankful for my mind that never misses an opportunity to head down a rabbit trail ... sometimes there are big things at the end of those fun little side tracks!