Latest from Alan

“You’re Wrong” Is the Wrong Message

When most of us hear the words “Have I got a great deal for you!” we grab our wallets because experience suggests any forthcoming deal won’t be great.
Similarly, when someone says, “Here’s the straight talk,” our baloney meters redline because we know the coming talk will be about as straight as a hound’s hind leg.
We […]

Read More

In Search of “Community”

Recently, a baker’s dozen of old farm and food friends got together with a group of young farm and food friends to discuss everything from yesterday’s disappointments to tomorrow’s hopes.
The differences in our age (mid-20s to early 80s), vocation (farmers to poets), education (undergraduates to Ph.Ds.), and experience (beekeeper to university dean) fueled warm—and, sometimes, […]

Read More

We Feed the World Is “Not a Harmless Myth”

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is using this harvest season to solidify its reputation as the biggest not-for-profit policy organization American farmers love to hate.
The hatred took root in 1995 when EWG published—on something called the Internet—a 10-year, searchable database of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) payments to all American farm entities. Farmers, especially the […]

Read More

Livestock’s Bleak, Industrial Future

The more the American meat and milk sectors industrialize—via integrated contract production, fewer bigger players, machine-centered scale—the more these key parts of American agriculture resemble industry itself: commoditized products, razor-thin margins, and extended periods of steep losses.
This shift from what we once quaintly called animal husbandry has also shifted economic and political power to a […]

Read More

On the Road: Meandering through the Canadian Maritimes

Some people like to travel by train, others prefer planes.
I like ferries, and the bigger the ferry the better the ferry.
The MV Fundy Rose, the ferry that makes the two-hour run between St. John, New Brunswick, and Digby, Nova Scotia, is a colossally big ferry. With mechanical jaws on both bow and stern, the 400-foot-long […]

Read More