"Famers of Forty Centuries" is a great source that gets into more detail on how traditional east Asian rice culture worked. tl;dr, it was a sophisticated human system closely adapted to its environment over millennia- including social systems of credit & investment.
East Asian rice culture is done on small plots, but that's where the similarity ends. It's not "small family farming" the way North Americans conceive of it. And that's... why it actually works.
A lot of mom & pop farms put on this weird Gender Theater act during food safety checks. The audit starts out with the wife being super deferential to the husband, but it's clear he has no idea about any of the farm recordkeeping and she's doing all of it.
So really, *she* should be the one running the farm side of the audit. But neither mom nor pop could seem to bring themselves to actually put her in charge of it, bc that would mean... the man is not in charge of something? And that's Simply Not Done.
The book focuses on low-cost retail bc like ag, it's also a job category that everyone assumes has to be basement wages w/o benefits. However there are low-cost retail co's out there that actually treat workers well (Costco, QuikTrip).
Mostly it has to do with management thinking through their business processes & minimizing the time workers spend doing not-work.
The vast majority of "farm work" is not farm work- it's running around looking for tools, walking up & down rows to get to the work, etc.
Guys I'm reading @CC_Rosenthal's book & going wild bc the plantation records she worked with are almost identical* to how farm recordkeeping is still done today. It's a trippy experience to read this book if you audit farm records for a living.
This thicc boy is a Brabant, same really cool blue roan coloring as the Ardennes horse from earlier.
Before about the 1940s, the Brabant & the (US) Belgian were the same breed. But after that they diverged. In Europe they bred them to be ... uh ... meatier. Like literally shorter & blocky because after WW2, the main reason to raise draft horses in Europe was for meat.
Meanwhile in the US Belgians became the horse of choice for those still using horses for work. So they were bred to be taller & leggier, the better to cover ground with.
Also bred out most of the feathering around the feet bc it collects mud- not very fun for a working horse.
Listen. If you're gonna give advice on a state's industrial development, you better know some things about its natural resource base. Its supply chain. What resources different industries need. Because then you can actually pursue growth strategies that can, like, y'know, work.
Yeah this is why I'm such a stick in the mud about how "luxury goods don't really count." They're expensive enough that they can travel through 300 middlemen. That's WHY jewelry etc were the only things still moving to/from Europe in the middle ages.
Grain shipments from Egypt to Europe? The global olive oil trade? wine? pottery? textiles? That was stuff that had to be shipped pretty directly from where it was made to where it was actually used; wasn't valuable enough to support a bajillion middlemen along the way.
Which means looots of people had to have the ships/caravans, navigational knowledge, & trade contacts to voyage deliberately from one region or continent to another.
I think it's really telling that in a world full of certifications & new hotness traceability tech,
the most effective labor protection tool I've ever seen is the Coalition of Immokalee Workers @ciw.
The reasons for CIW's effectiveness are deeply rooted in human systems.
CIW is run by farmworkers, for farmworkers. There's no conflict of interest like with most of today's labor welfare certifications, where it's corporate management controlling the program & paying for the inspection.
For context, Robeson County NC has the biggest Native population east of the Mississippi River. There's a lot of Dank Southern History & other issues that have prevented many SE Native groups from being federally recognized, but everyone down here knows the Lumbee anyway.
"Robeson schools had administered disciplinary paddling 41 times in the 2016-17 school year, and 28 times in the most recent school year. The practice was used in only two of the county’s elementary schools and the recipients were all American Indians."
Public health officials at the time tried to fix it all up by ordering her to stop working as a cook.
AKA ordering her to voluntarily commit to lifelong poverty.
Even under the primitive hygiene of the time, here are a ton of jobs she could have been doing that wouldn't have put people at risk like cooking did. Tailoring or anything else in the textile trades; non-food gardening; laundry, if it had paid a living wage.
But also, I'm a healthy adult, & healthy adults have more leeway than the rest of us w food poisoning.
Different people have different susceptibility to food poisoning. Kids under 5, the elderly, & folks w compromised immune systems would want to be a lot more rigorous.
A lot of food safety folks have a list of stuff they won't eat.
Me, never have I gotten food poisoning from something where I thought "this is a food likely to lead to puking" while eating it (like cut melons or leafy greens or sthing). So why bother getting all het up about it.
When a whole bunch of people start showing up in hospitals with diarrhea, stool cultures show they all have the same strain of Salmonella causing it, then interviews show they all ate at the same restaurant/bought the same tomatoes
Then we test that food & it has that same strain of Salmonella?
Q for #Twitterstorians: say there was massive brain drain from US ag in early 1900s bc of racial persecution (Great Migration, Japanese jailed in WW2, Mexican Repatriation), & you suspect this may have helped the of rise of agribusiness.
Anyone have any thoughts on primary or secondary sources that may touch on this?
ack my feed disappeared this thread & I thought it hadn't posted, sorry for the late replies guys
Ok first of all this research was done in an Access & Benefits Sharing partnership with the local community and the gov't of Mexico under the Nagoya Protocol, because Latin America's gotten wise to biopiracy.
You guys this post by @greenwoodae is everything. A great rundown, from a working farm operator, on the need for planning & discipline in farm management- & how a lot of farms' problems ultimately stem from poor management.
It's very popular to blame farming woes on external forces. Don't get me wrong, those exist.
And they're so far from the entire story. So much of farms' problems ultimately come from poor decisionmaking on the farm.
(If folks are wondering why I talk so much about farm problems that come from the farm instead of policy, it's bc it seems like there are already 10 Food Policy Experts for every person who actually does farm & supply chain management. That'd be beating a dead horse.)