Thursday, December 27, 2007

How You Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm?, Dept.

Your sobsister is, as you might know, fairly picky when it comes to, well, everything, but especially when it comes time to pick my entree from the great televisual menu that is cable television. One dish to which I regularly return is America's Heartland. Half-an-hour on your local PBS station profiling the men and women of this great land of ours who put meat-and-two-veg on our tables.

Host Paul Ryan begins each episode standing in front of a wholesome pastoral vista to introduce segments that teach us a little something about the American farmer and the way in which he or she is adapting to changing times while retaining the traditional love for the land and respect for the productive relationship between man and Nature. The segments are upbeat, the interviewers just the tiniest notch above the reporter at your local news station who can't quite be trusted with hard news and, so, has to specialize in human interest stories about kids reading to old folks. And as I watch these segments, I generally forget about dodgy GMOs and countless metric tons of livestock effluvia daily poisoning our water supply and the horrifying conditions in the factory farms and slaughterhouses and the ruthless practices of Big Agro which thinks that "natural resource management" means jerking puppet congressmen and -women into maintaining the profitable status quo irrespective of the national good, and I enjoy instead the tales of cheery family farms and plucky small-scale entrepreneurs regularly featured on the program. Sort of like watching a World War Two documentary that focuses on the increased efficiency of the Italian rail system.

As the theme song states,
"There's something that the people know
who make things live and make things grow,
deeper than the words of any sage,
that unless you've touched the earth,
planted seeds, or given birth,
the human heart can never come of age.

Which means male city folk like your sobsister are doomed to an arid hell of emotional immaturity. On the upside, however, I don't have to smell pig shit or flay half-conscious cows on a daily basis, so I'll just ask the song's composer, "America's #1 Selling Cowboy Music Singer" Michael Martin Murphey, to take his idiot romanticization of the agricultural sector of our economy and fling a wee flying fuck at a doughnut.

Yet I still watch the show. Maybe it's a suppressed longing on my part to enjoy the bucolic rhythms of farm life. Maybe it's the periodic sight of overweight men lavishing the sort of lustful looks normally reserved for Jessica Alba in a whipped-cream bikini on great metal leviathans of farm machinery. Maybe it's the fact that there's not much else scheduled in that time slot. But I do enjoy it. Honest. Even when they use the world "heartland" like they're earning commission on each mention. Talk about staking out enviable semantic ground. Who's going to take issue with anyone who hails from the heartland? Though, really, it should be the stomachland, given the destination of the ag sector's production. But "stomachland" sounds like an unpleasant amusement park and quite understandably is in disuse.

So, yeah, tune in. If you're in the mood to hear nothing but good news about the impact of increasing ethanol consumption on corn farming, this, my friend, will be your, pardon the pun, meat.


Flimsy Sanity said...

Farmers are just as greedy and dishonest as any other businessman and will shoot their calves full of growth hormones to make a few bucks. I often wonder if the obesity epidemic is related.

the sobsister said...

Everything from precocious puberty to cancer has been tentatively linked to the additives in feed, the antibiotics, the hormones, etc.

Convenience > integrity.
Profit > public safety.