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Heartland Rhetoric

Chances are you saw last week’s Super Bowl ad for Ram Trucks. You know, the one that barely mentioned the actual truck, instead using a 1978 recording of Paul Harvey’s ecclesiastical speech devoted to the American Farmer to push its message. The commercial portrayed American agriculture as one full of farmers that work hard, care for animals and the land, and ultimately inspire the next generation to become farmers as well.

Unfortunately Chrysler’s rosy picture of agriculture is full of thorns, including human rights abuses, the mistreatment of animals, environmental pollution, and aging farmers unable to pass down the family business. It’s heartland rhetoric like this that covers up these very real problems.

What’s more, the industrial agriculturalists doing the proselytizing talk about values while practicing something else entirely. Hard work has been replaced by six-row combines and chemical pesticides. An intimate connection to the land has been replaced by raising pigs and chickens indoors. Real farms have been replaced by the “farm” labels you see in stores.

Let’s support the many, many farmers that are living up to Paul Harvey’s expectations. Don’t buy a truck. Go the farmers’ market, join a CSA, attend a Future Farmers of America meeting…there are any number of things you can do to show support, not just say it.

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