Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A thought provoked by The Grapes of Wrath

Between the narrative of The Grapes of Wrath, wonderful and beautiful as it is, John Steinbeck includes many interesting and insightful comments, many of which still apply today, some seventy-four years after it was first published. Here is one I came across:

"If this tractor were ours it would be good - not mine, but ours. If our tractor turned the long furrows of our land, it would be good. Not my land, but ours. We could love that tractor then as we have loved this land when it was ours. But this tractor does two things - it turns the land and turns us off the land. There is little difference between this tractor and a tank. The people are driven, intimidated, hurt by both. We must think about this."

Now few people today (at least in Britain) could say they are being, or have been driven off their land by tractors, that do the same job at a cheaper cost. That I suppose happened many years ago, as it did in the USA. Now though we complain about the cost of food; food that is largely imported, making it more expensive and less fresh.
     This attitude fits closely with the western way of living, i.e 'someone else can do the planting, growing, harvesting, packing, etc., we'll just do the eating, preferably without having to pay too much. Meanwhile we do small jobs, that don't necessarily improve life, but often help us to do as little as possible.
     There was a time when each family grew their own food, made their own clothes, built their own homes, did things that were actually essential to life. Now we want other people to do this for us, preferably overseas where we don't have to see how hard it is. Oh and if you could make me the latest iPlod macro extra, with all the trimmings, that would be excellent.

Is the world going to change, no, or at least not over night. What I would like to suggest, however, is that we should take back our land from the tractor, which is itself a dying breed in England, where more and more fields are being built upon by our generous government. If farms cannot provide us with food, we should provide it for ourselves, as many already do.
     A small vegetable plot can produce a mass of food, enough to supply more than one family for a year. If every garden in Britain grew just one type of crop, we could stop importing so much food, which in turn would save a lot of money. Yes, we wouldn't have all food at all times of the year, but the food we would have would be fresh and probably much better for us.
     I hope that some day this is how we will live, because if we can improve our way of life in this way, perhaps we can improve it in other ways.

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