Before I continue the story of my exploration of the Midwest, I thought I’d share a quote with you that I think sums up why I find farming to be not simply interesting to study but essential to understand. The quote is from Near A Thousand Tables: A History of Food by Filipe Fernández-Armesto. This book is a splendid choice, if you have any interest in food history and its impact on world history. The book is thoughtful, wide-ranging, iconoclastic, brilliant, elegant, and packed with fascinating, abundantly documented information.
Here’s what Fernández-Armesto has to say about farming:
“Whether invented or evolved, the farming of plants did more, in the long run, to alter the world than any previous human innovation. The impact of the hunters, fishers, and stockbreeders of the last chapter could not compare—not on the landscape, or on ecological structures or even on diet. … Plants are 90 percent of the world’s food. Plant farming still dominates the world’s economy…. We still depend on it absolutely. It is the basis of everything else.”
For all our technology and cleverness, we’d disappear without farms.