When Once Jolly
Enter The Realm Of
Totally Green and Totally
M. Patrick Dahlke
When does the definition of an agricultural crop become a noose around the neck of America’s agriculture industry?
The moment an agricultural crop blurs entirely the line between being defined as a traditional 20th century food source and a 21st century industrial raw material and/or alternative energy fuel source, the human use, industrial structure and economic dynamic of that farm commodity not only does and must change significantly, if in fact such change is not fully understood, actualized and implemented, the obsolete function of that original agricultural crop has no choice but to become a noose around the neck of not only the forward momentum of American agriculture and all of American industry but the forward momentum of all of America’s 21st century commerce as well.
In other words, even though everything that is now grown in the soil of America’s farmlands was once and is still more or less considered as being a very ordinary and very simple definition of a life sustaining American farm crop, farming in our America is so far removed from the reality of what it once was that we as Americans have actually come to a point where growing crops to fulfill our basic and collective need for national health nutrition has been supplanted by a much larger and much more complex need to grow crops for our national economic nutrition. Within the complexity of this larger need is of course the great pragmatic bottleneck that is preventing us from realizing the true nutritional balance of human physical health and national economic health we need to understand fully if we as a nation expect to prosper within the boundaries of our 21st century industrial potential.
As corn is no longer corn and soy beans are no longer soy beans defining what corn and soy beans and a host of other agricultural crops actually are is essential and within that definition, categorizing the uses of corn and soybeans as well as carrots, potatoes, green beans and cow manure is equally essential. Within these categories and within the scientific research that has enabled us to redefine these categories, we have as a nation clearly enabled ourselves the freedom to attach new economic models to these categories. Unfortunately, as we are stuck within the constraints of traditional economic management of our nation’s farm commodities, we are as well stuck within the industrial constraints that prevent us from expanding our views of how to manage the future multi-faceted economic growth potential of these agricultural commodities.
As our nation’s farm products still serve as a provider for our nation’s essential food chain, they have clearly evolved to become providers of our nation’s industrial mechanism as well as our nation’s health care mechanism and in turn, our nation’s emerging alternative energy bio-fuel mechanism. The problem is that with all of this advanced scientific evolution, we have not applied an advanced financial management formula that would allow us to fully benefit from this evolution of basic farm product or farm commodity thought. Even though a farmer grows the same crop that he has grown for decades and even though a farmer delivers his grown crop to the same shipping point he has always delivered to, the fact that product is at that shipping point diverted to so many diverse industrial destinations should be an indication that economically, the moment a farm crop arrives at a shipping point, its end use should at that very point, clearly define the definition of its larger economic contribution to our nation’s broader industrial portrait.
Within the dead wood of our nation’s ancient economic agricultural model however, a soy bean remains a soy bean ands its market value is still quite unfortunately defined as what the market price of soy beans are on any given day or season of the year. Even though the soy bean stops being a soy bean the moment it arrives at its shipping point, the price of food or the price of the industrial raw material, medical or bio-fuel end use is still determined by the yield of the farm land that produces the soy bean as opposed to the yield of the industries that collectively benefit from how that industry entirely reprocesses what grows on that farm land.
Having said this, an agricultural crop in our 21st century is simply not an agricultural crop any longer, and as it is not, there is no reason in the world to any longer consider it as such. Within the constraints of this argument therefore, the moment an agricultural crop reaches its point of shipment, it should as well reach a point of being defined as a new farm or agricultural and industrial commodity. Once it is defined as a new commodity, clearly utilizing the soy bean as a bio-fuel product, a medical product or an industrial product as well as a food product will enable our nation’s commodity exchanges to both separate industrial processes from one another while in turn serving to further define and articulate the role America’s farmers have in bringing a diverse soy bean to an equally diverse industrial point of shipment and industrial reprocessing.
As the burden of our nation’s economic livelihood is still very much if not altogether dependant upon the yield of our nation’s farm fields and as we as a nation of truly advanced environmental scientists have come to understand that what we grow from our land has uses well beyond what we initially thought, structuring a commodities market that sustains this advancement is essential. The fact that the price of the food we purchase at our nation’s grocery stores is directly affected by the price of the bio-fuels grown from the same crop is a severe detriment to the economic management of both our nation’s food and biofuel resources and industries. Separating the two then becomes the essential argument for diversifying our nation’s potential for building truly sustainable and quite multi-dimensional agricultural marketplaces. Having said this, a soy bean grown for food should be a separate commodity than a soybean grown for an industrial raw material. A soy bean grown for the advancement of medical science should in turn be separated from a soy bean grown for the production of bio-fuel.
Regulation of basic farm commodities in this fashion will enable us as a nation to define in great detail the actual job title of the farmer growing a particular soy bean crop. As a farmer of a thousand acres of soy beans can within the constraints of such regulation, structure the yield of his farmland to anticipate the growth of a broad spectrum of industrial markets, bringing his modern, multi-dimensional 21st century crop yield to an equally multi-dimensional market should quite easily yield for him the ability to invest in the industrial technologies, science and machinery that assure not only his and his family’s but his nation’s much larger and much more prolific industrial and economic future as well.
While there could be chaos associated with the restructuring of our agricultural commodity markets in this manner, the larger chaos is today in our nation the collective failure of realizing that such restructuring is simple and uncomplicated. Within the brilliance of our collective American mindset however, is of course, the need we have as a nation to feed our nation.
Fried Green Tomatoes!
Organically grown vegetables, as unassuming as they appear to be, are of course the great green and mysteriously rising giants of America’s emerging 21st century agricultural/industrial, bio-fuel based economy. Why they are is quite important to understand.
While we in America are clearly overwhelmed with what was once considered as simple industrial tasks, functions and systems run entirely amuck and in many ways seemingly well beyond our normal sense of industrial and economic self control, the most basic task and the most ordinary response to being overwhelmed is the extraordinarily simple license we as American rural farmers and/or American urban gardeners inherently refer to when we actually cook, eat and enjoy the organic food we harvest from the soil that assures our American fingernails can at the end of an ordinary day of planting, be cleaned and manicured with gentle self caring before we sit at the dinner table of our collective organic harvest.
Having said this, the notion of every homeowner growing an organic garden in the backyards and backcountry farmlands of America does indeed have a certain appeal. Yet within the attractiveness of this simple appeal is the actual responsibility we as Americans have to not only actualize our basic, organic sense of personal happiness but in turn, actualize our basic organic need to care for one another socially and economically. How do we as a nation of overly advanced industrialists become overly simplified organic farmers once again who in the process of doing so, happen to quite peacefully own overly advanced investment portfolios filled with truly advanced American agricultural/industrial “fried green tomato cultural commodities”?
Southern fried green tomatoes may not be on the dietary agenda of every American, but the notion of taking or having and enjoying the time to fry those tomatoes most certainly is.
In a time when we are supposedly trying to analyze virtually every social, industrial and economic nuance that happens to wander across the bridge that spans the great divide between our 20th and 21st centuries, seeking a sense of harmony between the two is indeed what is causing us now at this stage of our nation’s third industrial (r) evolution to stop and contemplate why in the actual crossing of the bridge, we, in the middle at this very moment to begin anew to ponder the age old notion of taking the time for ourselves to fry green tomatoes.
Stopping a process that serves only to convolute and distort what we know within ourselves should be quite natural is of course, the reason why at midpoint on that bridge we pause. Why should we as both intrinsically laid back and intrinsically inventive and motivated Americans who simply want to live peaceful and productive lives have to endure the confusion of a society that has for all practical purposes, entirely forgotten the simple organic joys of being an American who by both ethnic and civil right were born in the home of the brave free thinker?
As old fashioned or indeed overly romantic and/or patriotic the preceding sentences may be, fried green tomatoes are cooked in America every single day. They are cooked solely because they have been, can be and need to continually be cooked or fried or boiled or simply served and enjoyed at the edge of the garden we by hand tilled. They are cooked to remind us as a nation that in spite of the collective confusion that is serving to knock us off that bridge, regionally or neighborhood grown organic tomatoes planted by our parents, grand parents and great grandparents provided us with the sustenance of generational respect that continuously implores us to indeed re-engineer, rebuild and re-walk that bridge. Within the process of re-walking, we in turn revisit the journeys of our parents, grandparents and ancestors. We as well take the information that is handed to us from the previous generation and shape it into what we as one generation of tomato growers will hand to the next generation of tomato harvesters.
The reason why I am bringing all of this stuff about fried green tomatoes up is that there are times when due to the advancement of our collective national brilliance, we entirely loose sight of the beauty of not only planting, growing and harvesting but frying and enjoying green tomatoes as well. Today in 2009 in our United States of America, the impetus is on change that is quite monumental in both industrial and economic as well as social scope. None the less, the impetus is as well on the tremendous need we have to once again fry green tomatoes or more to the point, to once again remind ourselves of the importance of staying in touch with our “organic industrial balance”. As ultimately all aspects of our industrial brilliance comes from a perpetual yearning to simply eat what we simply grow, the old fashioned barn dance of our collective national sustenance remains tethered to our capacity to continuously change and evolve our industrial portrait that reflects that change.
Within that dance today is the remarkable culmination of the studies of hundreds of agricultural choreographers who over the past quarter century and longer have listened consistently to the voice of the tomato seed.
As that seed today represents a remarkable culmination of dedicated research, it does as well represent a play of theatrical brilliance that is more than ready to be introduced onto our 21st century agricultural stage. Yet before that play can be financed, before the characters that make that play can be considered as historically significant, the significance of the industrial mechanism that will allow such financing must first be blueprinted before any form of advanced agricultural progress is applauded. As we cannot possibly go to a theatre to enjoy a play if we do not first have the financial ability to do so, it is only the perfection of the industrial mechanism that will allow us to do so.
While this might sound somewhat like an “if I only had this I could get that scenario”, it is. If we only had the industrial mechanism that would enable us the simple pleasure of enjoying the fruits of our 21st century fried green tomato labors, we would in turn reap the benefits from our 21st century fried green tomato industrial investments.
All of this of course goes back to the myth of 20th century Jolly Green Giant corporate farmers who within the larger myth of sustaining the world’s food needs, could through a combination of collective industrial inventiveness and unfortunately blind economic and equally blind agricultural arrogance also control or manage the world’s social needs. Fortunately today, we as Americans have come to realize that we cannot possibly manage the world’s larger social needs. As the people of the nations of our world have in so many ways grown socially and economically as a direct result of the intervention of America’s Jolly Green Giant corporate farmers, within that growth has come the quite simple and quite profound realization that our foreign neighbors actually own their land as well as the rights they have to farm it on their own unique national terms. While we cannot in any manner whatsoever assume that the peoples of our neighboring nations want our input in the terms that were forced upon them in our 20th century global agricultural mindset, we can most certainly shape a fried green domestic American industrial/economic tomato dialogue that helps shape the rest of our world’s collective passion for emulating anew the great American industrial drive that compelled us to save the world in the first place.
We of course cannot do this by our reliance on old-fashioned global industrial, economic and agricultural practices. We can however, quite successfully do this by old-fashioned global neighborliness. The moment we allow ourselves to fully adopt the wisdoms of our collective 21st century domestic agricultural potential, the moment we remove ourselves entirely from all facets of our 20th century fossil fuel based need to bring that agricultural potential to the world, will then be the moment the consciousness of alternative fuels will blend with the consciousness of alternative agriculture and alternative “agri-fuel” based global economics will emerge quite unrestrained.
As our unrelenting American need to forever enjoy fried green tomatoes (or any of a wide variety of regionally based and historically loved American cultural foods) remains as the benchmark of our global compassion to both feed the world and share with our global neighbors the joys of our regional harvests, how we use our agricultural products does in essence, determine the only possible outcome of our 21st century global agricultural goal and responsibility.
Having said this, let me suggest that the Jolly Green Giants of our 21st century agricultural industry will, in all likelihood have little if nothing at all to do with the growth and marketing of American food products abroad and everything to do with American bio-fuel development and managed global disbursement of that developments higher social, industrial and economic agenda.
If we remove ourselves entirely from the blueprint that enabled us to develop our global 20th century agricultural model and simply go farther back in time to our 19th century national agricultural model, I believe that in doing so, we will release ourselves from a wide variety of wholly unsustainable and wholly ridiculous desires to actually “feed the world” as opposed to investing in the larger cultural pleasures of simply sharing our love for fried green tomatoes with the world.
As this author has had the pleasure of experiencing a wide variety of global regional cuisines both in America and abroad, the pleasure has never been related to how I actually got to or was transported to those regions. As my travels always involved a reliance on planes, trains or automobiles, once I arrived at my destination, it was not the vehicle of transportation that I admired but the food and the conversation shared with the people who grew the food in their gardens and cooked the feasts in their kitchens. In the course of those conversations, a wide variety of personal dialogues were and continue to be had. Some of those dialogues were of course, about the recipe. By and large however, these dialogues were and remain about the lives of those who grew and cooked the food.
Regardless of the locale, the vast majority of people throughout the world are in my opinion, not the least bit concerned with how the food gets to the stomach of their dinner guest. Most are simply concerned with the smile on the face of their dinner guest, for within that smile is of course the essence of global peace that can really and truly only be had when one man or one woman is breaking bread with another man, woman or child.
While it appears as if today we are in a national if not global state of panic about how that food is indeed transported from the farm garden to the dinner table (and all points in between), we are as well at a point where the very food we grow to feed ourselves is also quite capable of fueling the vehicles that bring our harvest to market and our individual souls to the dinner table of our domestic and international friends. With such enormous industrial advances taking place in both agriculture and transportation initiatives worldwide, it is quite fascinating to this author that our “fuel sources” have fully evolved to be defined as not only the fuel we need to power our vehicles but the fuel we need to also power our bodies, our homes and our communities. With such an enormous agricultural imperative growing within our collective global industrial consciousness, perhaps the only thing we really need to focus upon in our collective global pursuit of sharing a wonderful meal is the wheel.
The wheel once attached to the hand held farm plow pushed by the lone Eastern, Southern, Midwestern or Western American farmer was pushed by a man or a woman whose only focus was to till the soil to plant a crop that once harvested served to feed his or her family and his or her neighbors. The wheel of a different kind was as well attached to a device powered by blades that caught the wind or hydro-force and in doing so drew water from streams or creeks or underground springs. The same wheel was utilized to open and close floodgates and control the amount of water that entered into a farmers’ field. As the wheel evolved, so to did the culture of the community that grew dependent upon the wheel.
Within the particularly American socio-industrial evolution of the wheel came of course a certain sense of pride and a certain sense of ownership. Those with more wheels owned more pride and prestige those with less did not. If you had the wherewithal to capitalize on the wheel you also had the benefit of reaping the rewards the wheel brought to you. Not only could you use the wheel to till the soil and irrigate the land but you could also use the wheel to bring your farms products to market not to mention bringing yourself to the market and purchase items others made as a result of their own capitalization of the wheel. Over the course of time, the wheel became a normal and relied upon device that grew from being pushed or pulled by man to being pushed or pulled by varying degrees of horsepower. Without going into the history and evolution of modern transportation, it is sufficient to say that with every advancement in our collective industrial brilliance concerning transportation an equal advancement came to our nation’s agricultural economy and of course an equal advancement came to our constantly evolving social consciousness. While those who had the wherewithal to initially take advantage of these advancements were considered insightful and prosperous and in doing so garnered much prestige and envy, ultimately their prosperity came with a tremendous responsibility attached to it. If they had the wheel and no one else did, the only way they could prosper from the use of their wheel ultimately came down to the fact that everyone else had to have a wheel as well. Throughout the evolution of America’s industrial empire, from the self-sufficiency of prospering from the wheel came the greater realization of co-dependency on the mutual benefits of using the wheel for a much larger and much more substantive community good.
Today in 2009 here in our United States of America, the term co-dependent has quite unfortunately been placed into a category that all too often has connotations of negative mental health issues associated with it. Co-dependency is a term used by mental health professionals, social workers, police departments and far too many state and federal government agencies to describe a social condition that was once and has historically in our America been viewed as being a social asset to define a general and wide spread social confusion of our use and dependence upon the wheel now in our 21st century. Those that cannot afford to own a car are defined as co-dependent upon a welfare system that nurtures public transportation. As public transportation is viewed as something inferior to the larger goal of self-centered personal transportation, any mention of the need to expand public transportation is met by more accusations of negative co-dependency. Yet within this dialogue is the ultimate need and want each and every one of us have to create Fried Green Tomatoes. Within this anti-co-dependent dialogue is the tremendous underlying yearning we have as Americans to actually get too know the people who cannot afford to buy a car and within this yearning is the tremendous need we all in America have here in 2009 to answer the question of whether or not anyone needs a car at all.
As the wheel has always represented the whole co-dependent evolution of mankind, here in 2009 it does as well. Having said this, why aren’t our various forms of public transportation filled with people who daily travel but a few miles to purchase organically grown food at local organic food markets that are co-dependent upon one another for their mutual survival? Why aren’t our nation’s sadly underutilized public transportation systems intimately linked with our organic food markets and farms? Why aren’t the people who drive SUV’s in hopes of traveling via four wheel drive out to the country to buy organic farm produce not growing those farms in their own communities? Why are those same people furious over having to be stuck behind a city bus filled with people who can’t afford to buy a car or organic groceries?
The answer to all of these questions is that we as a nation collectively obsessed with an outdated 20th century independent definition of an equally outdated industrial definition of the use of the wheel have not come to realize the full impact of our co-dependent 21st century definition of the wheel. As our farm products are being used to fuel our vehicles just as much as they are being used to fuel our bodies, such use due exclusively to self-reliant and self-defeating 20th century American industrial logic remains locked away in the mind of far too many Americans who simply fear having to face 21st century socio-industrial co-dependency. Far too many Americans simply fear having to get on the bus that for decades has been filled with people who are most certainly not capable of affording SUV’s but are more than capable of growing, harvesting and cooking Fried Green Tomatoes.
As our nation’s agricultural industry has with the aid of thousands of gifted and talented 21st century barn dancers produced an industrial diversity never before known to mankind, it has as well enabled us as Americans the freedom once again have the potential to enjoy our co-dependency within the brilliant light emanating from the agricultural products that not only have the potential to fuel our whole transportation system and our whole national nutritional system as well as our whole national housing system but have as well the power to represent to the world once again our historic nationalist sense of co-dependence.
If in the grand picture of our 21st century agri-industrial achievement we as Americans can demonstrate to the world that bio-fuels are unequivocally linked to global nutrition and that nutrition is equally linked to the celebration of ethnically diverse global cuisines, the vehicles that travel upon our 21st century green giant wheels will in all likelihood enable many new, dynamic and excitingly sustainable green giant industries to emerge in our 21st co-dependent global industrial century. As historically we as Americans have used our industrial inventiveness to the betterment of the design and function of the wheel and that betterment has improved the cultural conditions of our world as a whole, isn’t it about time once again to use our technological advancements for the co-dependent betterment of our own nation first?
If in fact we do so, will the response from our global neighbors be different from their responses to Humvee’s and M1 tanks. While this author cannot in any manner whatsoever predict the outcome of America’s future relationship with it’s global partner’s and although I speak within my own limitations of my own bio-diverse vision of our nation’s and our world’s green agri-industrial potential, vehicles fueled by agri-fuels that are driven by rural and urban farmers moving human food in the direction of human dinner tables do in my mind facilitate a tangible argument for the separation of America’s agricultural marketplace into entirely new agricultural/industrial sub economic categories.
Whereas a certain percentage of our national agricultural yield should be devoted to the production of bio-fuel and a certain percentage should be devoted to agricultural textiles and advanced bio-related ingredients utilized in the construction and assembly of manufactured components for the construction industry and the transportation industry as well as the medical industry, each of these components should be compartmentalized into a diverse and highly articulated 21st century commodities market. In other words, if our nation’s agricultural marketplace is within the context of our 21st century industrial potential to be utilized for our nation’s greatest Fried Green Tomato potential. Each of these components should have their own separate marketplace and their own separate board of trade. I believe that what is intrinsically wrong with our nation’s as well as the world’s commodity markets today is that soy beans are quite unfortunately traded as soybeans.
Even though soybeans are used for a wide variety of industrial uses today, they are none the less traded as soybeans that are in turn lumped into a wide variety of other American farm commodities such as wheat and corn and traded in the same manner as they have been for decades. While this practice is benchmarked in 20th century free market tradition, this practice today in our 21st century free market environment is wrong and serves only to diminish our nation’s ability to both diversify and articulate economically to ourselves the broad spectrum of new industrial potential we could be realizing if only we viewed soybeans in new and advanced 21st century portraits of our nation’s agricultural commodities. It makes virtually no sense for an American farmer to grow soybeans today in 2009 if within his normal economic cycle the price of those beans is being affected by the price of fossil fuels they are as a result of technological advancement now being forced to compete with.
What this practice does is essentially state to both the soybean grower and the driller and/or miner of fossil fuel based commodities is there is virtually no difference between the soybean and oil shale if they are both competing with one another for the singular purpose of eventually getting into the gas tanks of the cars America and Americans need to transport themselves about town over the course of a given day. Lumped into the same markets as fossil fuels, our nation’s 21st century agricultural products are clearly being assigned obsolete 20th century economic roles that once successfully fostered the growth of our 20th century industrial mechanism when it was based solely on fossil fuel production and use.
In our new century, our agricultural commodities just as our fossil fuel commodities must be entirely re-labeled and done so in a manner that articulates quite clearly the diversity of technologies we are attempting to apply them to. Having said this, there must be a clear distinction between agricultural crops that are grown for edible human consumption for the singular purpose of meeting our overall national nutritional needs, agricultural crops that are grown for the singular purpose of contributing to the diversity of green products associated with clothing and housing or construction related products and the agricultural products that are now on the market to fuel the vehicles all of us need to use to successfully sustain the turning wheels of our 21st century American industrial mechanism. Once this market of diversified commodities is brought into play, market fluctuations while still being of national and global economic concern will be tempered by the very diversity of the technological advancements in all industries we have collectively enabled ourselves to collectively understand and benefit from financially.
The United State of America has from the onset of its Declaration of Independence clearly represented above all else the industrial inventiveness of a society wholly unrestrained by governing bodies that suppress the natural inventiveness and genius of the people it serves. Because of this fact and this fact alone, although we might in 2009 be feeling somewhat vulnerable to the frailty of industrial transition we now as Americans are once again experiencing, we are experiencing it because we want to and can. And, of course, the only reason we can and want to is our love for “Fried Green Tomatoes” and unfettered dreams of always being “Jolly Green Giants”.
M. Patrick Dahlke
The Green Collar Blue Industrialist