There he goes again. Hardscrabble Farmer works 12 hours in the field and then relaxes by writing another thought provoking, brilliant essay on another important aspect in our long slow decline. Life is full of choices. America and most Americans have made the wrong choices. Hardscrabble Farmer has made the right choices. I love this place. Enjoy.


Simon Farlie has recently published an excellent work entitled Meat: A Benign Extravagance in which he examines, in detail the various arguments both for and against the production and consumption of animal flesh.

Understand this; all life on Earth requires the death of and consumption of another life form. This is an inescapable truth and arguments for the sentience of each particular species aside and its fundamental right to live a life and not become nourishment for other life forms is academic. A steer grazing in my field can either feed my family and my neighbors or it can live its entire life until it dies of some other cause at which point it will be nourishment for worms and bacteria- in the end it feeds something.

Humans have, through the past 10,000 years at least, established a role for themselves as mediators in the process by selectively choosing to husband certain life forms in a way that benefits himself. It is far more reliable to practice agriculture than it is to be a gatherer of wild edibles because of the odds. Weather cannot be controlled-that we know of- but the scale of what can be harvested in its time can be greatly expanded by the use of techniques and methods that maximize the odds in our favor. As observant human beings over the ages began to build their skill sets and methods it was noted that manures, when applied at certain times and in certain states could vastly improve harvests and so farming developed. It has been said that farming is the Mother of the natural sciences- that virtually all we know of the processes of life are a direct result of the practices of agrarians.

What happened at the close of the Second World War was that two new tools were introduced to the world of agriculture at levels that dwarfed earlier agricultural advances, namely petroleum based fertilizers and petroleum fueled farm equipment. Both of these developments maximized harvests leading to greatly reduced food prices- so much so that within a generation our entire national participation rate for agriculture dropped by more than a 1000%. The processes that fed our families and nourished our bodies were no longer common knowledge of the entire population, but an industrial process as alien as the manufacture of silicon wafers or plastic extrusions. Rather than to rely on the accumulated knowledge of a hundred generations, we passed off our responsibility to feed ourselves to oil men and lab rats. Is it any surprise that in their effort to maximize profits through economies of scale that the inevitable conclusion was to feed their consumers pink slime?

While on the surface this must have seemed like such a great leap forward (where have I heard that phrase before?) by freeing up not only 25-30% of our income that had previously been spent on food, but by eliminating from American life the necessity of laboring in a garden and the risks associated with weather and harvests, not to mention the time in preserving these harvests for the pantry. From here on out it was TV instead of weeding the garden, nodding off in the hammock instead of cleaning out the chicken coop, twitter instead of listening to the tweeting of real birds.

Of course, like physics always shows us, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Those super efficient farm machines that complete in a single day what would take a man months to do also compacted the soils in a way that twenty generations of family members walking on its fields could never accomplish. That the ever expanding requirement for fertilizers would also leave the soils as inert and dead as a lava field, unable to bring forth life without the application of tons of anhydrous ammonias and pulverized lime. That the livestock long required for fertilizing the soil with their wastes would no longer be needed, reducing worldwide herd and flock sizes to numbers last seen in the dark ages. It also placed the flocks, the fields, the herds and the seeds into the hands of less than 1% of the population where previously common ownership had been as ubiquitous as cell phones today. And lest we forget, when we gave up our ability to grow and raise and slaughter and harvest our own food supply, we lost our collective store of generational knowledge. We sacrificed our freedom to feed ourselves and our families for convenience and in exchange we enslaved ourselves to a select minority for the one need we all have daily without regard to age, sex, race or social status- nourishment.

And now we discover that they would feed your precious children “pink slime”, or worse yet, e coli, or camphobactyr or wood chips if it looked good to the bottom line.

Yesterday we worked as a family in the gardens for about 12 hours. The younger children are expected to participate, but aren’t forced to hang in there all day. They plant a bit, go off and play for a while, come back and ask questions, go down to the brook and come back again with a snake. My wife who in a previous life could have been the Princess in Enchanted mixed rotted manure with sifted loam in the wheel barrow and potted red geraniums while I put in 200 feet of red, white and yellow onion sets. We weeded the greens in the raised beds, hilled the rows of beans that were only just starting to germinate on the Sunday before Memorial Day and finished the evening with a steaming plate of freshly harvested asparagus and grilled flank steaks from a particularly sassy Chianina cow that weighed close to a half ton hanging weight.

Whenever I see that stats regarding the number of farmers left in America I assume that I am part of that count, but I am not one of them. There’s no GPS on my tractor, It isn’t air conditioned except by the air itself and I don’t get subsidies for things I don’t grow paid for by taxpayers dollars. I try and make this place a little more productive each year, spread my risk around a bit by adding new crops or improving ones we already produce and make sure that my family never goes hungry. When everything works out right we sell the overabundance to grateful friends and neighbors and put whatever we earn right back into the place so that when our children step up it will be that much more productive, that much healthier and that much more fertile.

The era of cheap food is at the doorstep, America and the new era of expensive garbage in the form of pink slime with all of its concealed and attendant costs to health and nourishment is upon us.

55 thoughts on “THE ERA OF CHEAP FOOD”

  1. Well I’ll just scoot the comment I made on HF’s comment here that he originally made on the other thread. Clear?


    Before reading your comment my skin was ‘white’. Now that I’ve finished I see my skin has turned green…….from Envy.

    What a blessed ‘peach’ of a life you have. Sigh.

  2. Clarification: Envy can be benign OR malignant.

    One definition of envy is: desire for oneself (something possessed or enjoyed by another): as in ‘a lifestyle that most of us would envy’….and I would add….yet do not begrudge the one enjoying said lifestyle.

    My skin is still green, but a lovely shade of green.

  3. A question for the Farmer.

    Do you have a bunch of G-Wipes hanging on your fence extorting payment that allows you the privilege of selling the excess fruits of your labor?

  4. Extortion of one’s hard earned income is a fundamental reality of our existence. The trick is to use the cumbersome and illogical legal system as it exists to avoid as much of it as possible. I am glad to pay local taxes because it provides services that are real and present- fire department, EMS, police, road maintenance, etc- and it provides jobs for people in my community who in turn support me. At the State level, not so much, at the Federal level not at all.

    The key is to provide as much as you need for your own use by your own efforts and to desire less those things that you do not. At this stage of the game its voluntary- as things continue to decline it will likely become compulsory.

  5. Famer ,you realize your way of life is also coming to an end.What are going to do when desperate people come to steal and kill.Just one person with a high power rifle could end your family farming .How are you going to protect yourself ,your family and your farm from hungry , desperate people who will become violent. Don’t mean to bring you down but maybe it’s you who lives in a fantasy world.

  6. Anything is possible, but not everything that is possible is likely to happen.

    Will and Ariel Durant wrote a fantastic series on human civilizations- one quote stuck in my mind and has been the driving impetus behind my life’s work.

    I paraphrase, poorly as I can not locate the original-

    “History appears like a raging bloody river, filled with the bodies of tyrants and their victims, but most of history is lived high upon the banks where children play and families tend their gardens and sing to one another in the night.”

  7. Thank God HF has character of steel as evidenced by how he let bb’s inane comment roll off him like water rolling off a duck’s back.

    “Don’t mean to bring you down…” Bullshit. You knew your comments were downers but you typed them anyway so stop feigning innocence.

    “How are you going to protect yourself ,your family and your farm from hungry…” What?? Do you proofread what you type before hitting ‘submit’?? If the answer is yes then the next question is….Are you a foreigner?? Lastly…How HF is going to protect himself, his family, and his farm from….hungry(?) is relative to your life in what way? Don’t you have a cat to worry about when the SHTF?

    HF – Will and Ariel Durant; I also had the whole series.

    bb saving his cat when the Zombies force his truck into a raging river.


    bb’s cat better pray bb doesn’t run out of cat food when the SHTF


  8. I was employed by the food industry for many years and had never heard of the protein call “Pink Slime”. I retired at 48 y.o. some 23 years ago, so that maybe was before pink slime machinery was in operation. I read three indepth articles on the process of how they produce this shit, and the three or four companies that produce slime all were out of business within 90 days.

    The machinery that produced pink slime is complex, but the idea is to extract every sliver of meat protein from the cow carcass. There was no reason to re-add slime into ground beef other than profit, and was approved by the USDA.

    My butcher assured me they did not use the additive in their ground beef, but I decide to make my own hamburger patties two ways. The first way is 1/3 Bison – 1/3 grass feed beef – 1/3 lean ground pork with each patty weighing 5.3 oz. We make about 18 patties and freeze. The next is buying all dark meat ground chicken and making patties, which are moist and make wonderful chicken burger.

    I can back up HSF statements that farming and feeding yourself is hard noble work and a 12/6 work week. I am a farming lightweight as of now, but cleaning chicken coops is not for the faint of heart. Chickens are fun, but they are dirty little shits.

  9. One bullet barney [ bb ] thinks guns and the state/fed he wants to work for will be that what protects folks like HSF.

  10. Cheap food might go away, but not in the near future. Food is still pretty damn cheap in this country …. maybe not for dirt poor folks, …….. but for most, it is. Yes, meat is going through the roof. Well, eat less meat. It won’t kill you.

    Boring list alert. We bought all this stuff below today …….. total cost, $86.74 Jeezus, what’s there to complain about??

    potatoes – 5lbs
    cucumbers (2)
    onions – 3lbs
    cabbage, green
    cabbage, red
    acorn squash
    spaghetti squash
    grapefruit (6)
    avocado (4)
    red leaf lettuce
    bananas (7 lbs)
    apricots (2 lbs)
    tomatoes (3 lbs)
    carrots (3 lbs)
    red and yellow peppers (2 lbs)
    corn (6)
    plaintains (4)
    Italian bread
    smoked liverwurst – 1lb
    danish cured bacon – 1lb
    hard salami – 3/4 lb
    kielbasi – 1.5 lbs
    feta cheese – 1lb
    young coconut (4)

  11. @Stucky: I wish I had your grocery store down here… Pricing out your lovely list in Central Florida would top $130. And would not include the bacon or the Feta..

    Ms. Freud feeds her boy good stuff!


  12. T4C , will see.You are right about my cat .I would save him before I would most people. You and Hf have never read about wars in other countries. Farmers do become targets.What’s to stop anyone who wants what you have ?It’s a fair question. If it brings you down.So what.
    H F I meant no disrespect but it is a fair question.How are you going to protect yourself, your family , your farm? Quoting some nonsense about history is worthless. Wishful ,magical thinking will not protect you.

  13. T4C ,you don’t like me anyway so what business is it of yours. You said I was dead as far as you were concerned. Remember.?But I never seem to really die.I think that turns you on sexually. Am I wrong?

  14. Bacon is a heroin. -SSS

    O. I get it, the reduction of society by natural desires.

    Stucky, dont eat bacon.


  15. HsF

    Today due to the use of petroleum based fertilizer and petroleum powered equipment one person can feed a large number of people maybe thousands I don’t know what the number is. What I would like to know, when the oil runs out and farming reverts back to what it was a couple hundred years ago, how many will each farmer be able to feed besides himself and his family?

  16. You are right about my cat .I would save him before I would most people -bb

    In what Psalm might I find this O’ trollip?

  17. ASIG – location is a huge piece of that equation. But based on fact that half of the world’s workforce is in agriculture, 2 to 1 to 4 to 1 would be a good guess.

  18. Anonymous , what do you know?You’re Damn lesbian. Leave my cat alone.Don’t know a psalm but this will do for a degenerate like you.ROMANS 1:18-32 God’s wrath against people like you.Your lesbianism is punishment for your sin of idolatry.Bit you think twice before you lick another woman.

  19. Anonymous , what do you know?You’re Damn lesbian. Leave my cat alone.Don’t know a psalm but this will do for a degenerate like you.ROMANS 1:18-32 God’s wrath against people like you.Your lesbianism is punishment for your sin of idolatry.Bit you think twice before you lick another woman. -bb

    Stucky, is that you?

  20. I am out here today in Stockton Ca .They have.plenty of water . The canals are full of water and there is lots of fruits and vegetables for sale. I think the drought in this part of Ca is not that big of a deal.Bought some of best cherries I have ever had today.Guy at the stand said water is not a problem right now in this part of California.I believe him.
    Stucky I thought of you as I was eating those delicious cherries.

  21. You speak falsely, bb, you judge when you should not, and now you pretend to judge me, when the bible warns you against it?

  22. I notice you put a space before many of your periods bb. And also many times you place a period before the comma.

    Care to elaborate?

  23. Kill Bill ,I am on my smart phone most the time and it has a mind of it’s own. It should. I paid 700.00 dollars for it ….That’s condemn you but I can judge you words and actions. ONLY GOD really knows your heart.

  24. bb says:

    “But I never seem to really die.I think that turns you on sexually. Am I wrong?”

    your not turning her on mentally but you may be right. i read somewhere that women confuse anger with love. keep chipping away at her bb an avalanche starts with a few pebbles.

  25. Kill Bill ,I am on my smart phone most the time and it has a mind of it’s own. It should. I paid 700.00 dollars for it ….That’s condemn you but I can judge you words and actions. ONLY GOD really knows your heart.

    You are not my final arbiter and never will be.

  26. “Stucky, dont eat bacon. DO NOT EAT THAT SHIT.” ———– Kill Bill

    You need to expand your knowledge base. However, some people will NEVER be convinced that animal fats are actually good for you. Too bad.

    Fried eggs taste heavenly when cooked in bacon grease. Onions & mushrooms sautéed in bacon grease to top a steak is pure bliss. Warm salad dressing with bacon grease, raw vinegar and sugar for a spinach salad. Green beans sautéed in bacon grease produces an amazing flavor. Best of all is to use bacon grease instead of vegetable oils (yuck) for the flakiest and tasty pie crusts evah!!


    1)- Pork-Powered Protein: ———- The protein found in bacon is extremely valuable to maintaining our energy levels and a fully functioning, healthy body, with a minimum of those nasty, waist, thigh and butt expanding, fat-building carbohydrates.

    2)- Bacon’s Blood-Balancing Bounty: ———- Several university and medical center studies have shown that including bacon as a regular, moderate part of one’s diet naturally works to lower the body’s blood pressure and blood sugar levels, helping to prevent and/or alleviate the effects of diabetes, as well as heart disease, stroke and heart attack.

    3)- Flushing Fat With Flavorful, Friendly Flesh: ———- While people have heard horror stories for years that bacon is full of harmful fat and after all, if you are what you eat, who wants to be a PIG? But the facts are completely the opposite, as bacon helps to fully satiate our appetite with high protein / low carb energy, helping the body lose weight, raise one’s metabolism and build leaner, stronger muscles.

    Bacon actually has less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than many popular cuts of beef and chicken. While some fish has less fat and cholesterol than bacon, bacon has more protein power and does not contain toxins such as mercury.

    4)- Bacon’s Brain Building Business: ———- Bacon is chock full of a very important nutrient called “choline,” which helps increase our intelligence and memory, from conception to Senior Status, and has been shown in University studies to help fight off the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease and other chronic mental impairments.

    5)- Bacon Lets You “Pig Out” On Essential Vitamins & Minerals: ———- Bacon provides us with substantial amounts of the important, necessary vitamins and minerals our bodies need to function healthfully. From bacon, we receive: 65% of our Recommended Daily Intake of Thiamin (Vitamin B1) as well as 47% of our Niacin (Vitamin B3), 38% of our Vitamin B12, 36% of our Zinc, 24% of our Vitamin B6, 22% of our Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), 22% of our Phosphorus, 10% of our Pantothenate, 10% of our Magnesium, 9% of our Iron and the Protein to fat balance in bacon is actually 4 to 1, which is one of the highest protein to fat balances found in any meat, fish or fowl found on Earth.

    6)- Effective Mood Elevator: ———- Bacon makes you feel happy, satisfied, blissful, which greatly reduces stress in our lives and effectively relieves the negative effects of frustration, self-deprivation and sense of lack in one’s existence.

    7)- Nitrates and Nitrites – Now Non-Issues: ———- The fact is, while it is true that nitrates and nitrites are unhealthy for your body, what most pro -veggie, chicken and fish nutritionists fail to tell you is that you can easily avoid nitrates and nitrites by simply (A) not burning / charring / over cooking your bacon or by (B) Baking your bacon in the oven.

    if you always include some dairy and citrus in your bacon meal, the vitamins A, D and E work to effectively prevent conversion of “nitrates and nitrites into dangerously toxic “nitrosamines” in the stomach, rendering them harmless to the body.

    8)- While We Heart Bacon – Bacon Heart’s Your Heart: ———- While people over the years have mistakenly made jokes about bacon being a leading contributor to heart disease, actually there are in fact several studies that show that the Omega-3 Fatty Acids and “choline” found in bacon can actually protect the heart from developing detrimental problems, as well as actually help HEAL such anomalies, after they have occurred!

    Unlike the Omega-3 Fatty Acids supplements derived from fish sources, the ones that come from bacon aren’t chock full of poisonous mercury, like many of the popular fish oil versions are. So bacon Omega-3′s can not only help prevent heart disease, as well as lower your cholesterol, reduce inflammation and improve circulation, but also help you to avoid mercury and other toxic poisons being regularly spewed into our planet’s oceans.

  27. Kill Bill , fine with me kill Bill….The Lord said ..You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free but first it will make you miserable… I added the 6 words. You seem to be in alot of misery.

  28. I’ve had peppered bacon on a sandwich for the past three nights. And will again tomorrow night.

    Have not tried this, but would if someone made it. This screams to be washed down with an ice cold really good beer.

    Bacon Bomb: a bacon weave wrapped around a mixture of sausage, cream cheese, cream cheese, jalapenos and cheddar cheese.


  29. bb, you’ve been hanging around KB too long. take it easy with T$C, she will have your balls frying in bacon grease in no time.

  30. I have come to believe that the biggest determinant of health is buying from a farmer (or famers) who have a customer base willing to pay him/her to constantly improve their soil. Not every farmer is so lucky and too many customers walk away when the price is too far above the grocery store. But nutrient dense food is the only way to ensure you stay healthy and the land gets better. If budgets are tight, find the best farmers around and buy their cheapest items. Pastured/grass finished ground will taste better-and be far better for you–than the more expensive CAFO filet mignon. It’s also a good idea to try things at the farmers market–even after you’ve bought them. Sometimes some item is so incredible that you’ll wish you bought 5 times as much and it won’t be the same the following week. The next few months are tropical fruit season here in South Florida and I intend to fully gorge myself on mangos, logans, lychees, watermelons, eaten within days of being picked (nothing that’s fresh or nutrient dense in a grocery store and well worth whatever the farmer charges).

  31. bb makes a valid point- quotes won’t protect me and mine from anything, but I mention it because even in a zombie apocalypse, not everyone goes down. Civilizational collapse isn’t something I look forward to or wish for, but they have come and gone in the past and somehow humanity manages to make it through to the other side because there are enough people with skill sets built around survival and sustainability.

    And predators are a part of my daily life, unlike most folks in an urban environment. I deal with them as the need arises, but I don’t sit around fretting about their arrival on my farm. When they’re here, we address the issue, when they’re absent, we go about our lives. I worry more about the things I cannot face head on like radiation from abandoned nuke plants should things ever go south. If we ever face a serious economic collapse with all the disorder it would bring, I think it will resemble the post Katrina world where the majority hunkers down in place waiting to be rescued. The dangerous mobs won’t have the energy to make it as far as where we live and the ones who do will run into a lot of people looking for an excuse to settle scores along the way.

    And bacon is the hardest thing for me to keep in stock. I have one customer who literally buys me out when I have it, sometimes 100 lbs at a time. And if you’ve ever had real smoked bacon (not smoke flavored) from a forest raised pig who spent his last days finishing on apples, you haven’t lived.

  32. “6)- Effective Mood Elevator: ———- Bacon makes you feel happy, satisfied, blissful, which greatly reduces stress in our lives and effectively relieves the negative effects of frustration, self-deprivation and sense of lack in one’s existence.”

    Isn’t that the definition of Nirvana?


  33. “And if you’ve (n)ever had real smoked bacon (not smoke flavored) from a forest raised pig who spent his last days finishing on apples, you haven’t lived.”

    I’m going back to bed……never to awaken unless awoken by the smell of that forest raised apple eating pig being cooked. Just the sound of that particular pig makes me feel faint.

    “bb makes a valid point- quotes won’t protect me and mine from anything, but I mention it because even in a zombie apocalypse, not everyone goes down.”

    HF…always the Diplomat, although there may have been a typo. “bb makes a vapid point….”

  34. hardscrabble farmer gets an A++++ for writing beautiful prose.

    But, an F for his shit-flinging skillz.

    bb deserves a royal ass kicking for his flaming pigshit comments …. but, since HF is being such a gentleman about it, I shall pass as well …. BUT I DON’T WANT TO!!

  35. HS_Farmer’s comments and others like them have been the primary motivator behind my wife and I’s shift towards gardening.

    Our start is modest, but its our first year, and it frosted damned late this year. Next year, the plan is for corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, and hopefully some brussel sprouts and some potatoes.

    The hogs I buy aren’t wild raised, but they are on a pasture and only raised 2-4 at a time by a guy I work with. Total cost for pork for me, $2.35/lb. Not too shabby.

    Free eggs, from chickens and ducks that are free range.

    I wish daily that I had held out and got a property with some land around it. There is nothing so satisfying as doing real work that yields tangible results.

  36. But not all Norwegians are fucked up beyond belief.

    This girl won Norway’s Talent Contest last week. She’s 8 years old.

  37. Wow. Imagine what her voice will sound like when she’s all growed up!

    I knew what the song was going to be within the first 2 seconds the guy played the horn.

  38. Stuck you reminded me of that gross bacon wrapped dick dinner offered up to the highest bidder in Japan.

    T$C got bb good with that truck in the river pic.


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