Chapter 11: Of Tractors and Horses

As the land owners let go of tenants to implement more profitable farming methods, they want to replace the horses with tractors.

Steinbeck describes tractors as easy and efficient: “So easy that the wonder goes out of work, so efficient that the wonder goes out of land and the working of it, and with the wonder the deep understanding and the relation”.

Steinbeck seems to understand what the land represents for the tenant farmers and their relation with it. He knows that the land for them is more than the analysis of the soil; they know, they understand and they love the land. The land is their home.

Does profit and progress always come with a price?  Sometimes it is about shattered lives and broken dreams. Steinbeck talks about the bitterness that pervades the whole process of eviction, and how it will follow all of them for a long time.

And sometimes it is about the choices we make. I cannot help but make a parallel with the story of Monsanto. The company revolutionized agriculture with the creation of super seeds, engineered to answer the need for bigger and better productions. In the process, a great number of local varieties of seeds disappeared and some for ever. What the agricultural world is facing today is the disappearance of agricultural products that were well adapted to their environments.   The new seeds, even if they boost production and answer some needs, require high maintenance and are not immune to future mutations.

In a process of standardization, we lost more than just seeds, we lost some of the spirit of the land.

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Published in: on January 11, 2010 at 4:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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