Musings on Market Day

Market day is a downer. Sure, there are a few pigs I was glad to see go, but I don’t think I’ve ever been closer to disavowing bacon than on market day–well, maybe I have, there was that one time I checked my blood pressure after eating a half pack of bacon. 

Sometimes when I think about God, the best analogy I can think of is a farmer and a pig. A pig is a smart animal, but most farmers, current writer excluded, are exponentially smarter and somewhat omniscient (at least in terms of the pig’s day of reckoning) and generally benevolent (at least in terms of providing for the pig’s welfare). I suppose the analogy would branch from here, depending on your beliefs: If you’re a pantheist, the pig would dissolve into the ether of livermush–and so would the farmer. If you’re a Christian, in the end times, the farmer would return and call all the pigs home, which is basically a heavenly version of a pig pickin’. If you’re an atheist, then the farmer is just a figment of the pig’s imagination. 

I’m not sure which branch is more ludicrous. But the thing is, life itself is ludicrous. As far as we know, in the vastness of the vast universe, we are it. Somehow, on a rock floating in space, an amoeba sprang up to form a man capable of creating livermush and then using it in analogy about an abstract concept, called God, which may be a figment of his imagination. Sure, there is a lot of chatter about UFOs these days, but if aliens turn out to be pale, anemic-looking bipeds then something fishy is going on. Aliens that look anything similar to us just wouldn’t make sense. Given a completely different set of evolutionary conditions on some other planet, I would think if we did find a crashed flying saucer that was extraterrestrial in origin, it would be more likely to be piloted by a talking sponge than little gray men. 

I’m not sure how I went from pigs, to God, to aliens, but your mind goes to strange places on market day. All I know is I’m thankful for pigs and bacon and life itself, even if it is ridiculous. And I’m thankful that we live in a country where we can have ridiculous discussions and write ridiculous blog posts and think freely and eat bacon. And I’m thankful we live in a country where people can disavow bacon and join PETA if they so choose. And I’m thankful we live in a country where people can vote, whether it’s for a talking sponge or a little gray man. And I’m thankful I can live on a little farm and keep bees, the premise of which–a soft-bodied mammal keeping thousands of stinging insects–is ridiculous in and of itself. All said, I have a lot to be thankful for as I float along in this particular place on this particular rock in a vast universe of ridiculousness.

Gluttons for Punishment

Not to get religious, but one thing I find interesting about the story of Adam and Eve is the fact that God punished the first couple by farming. That seems about right. Out of all punishments in the primordial soup, and I’m sure there were some tasty ones in there, God chose boring old “soil cultivation” as his foundational punishment. Eventually, God added some spice with plagues and floods and such, but those wouldn’t add nearly as much misery without farm crops to ruin. 

The point here, though, is farmers are gluttons for punishment. Year after year, farmers come back for another round of woe and bear the weight of original disciplining. In my innocence, I used to think farming was fun and exciting (a belief quickly dispelled when I planted and picked a quarter-acre patch of strawberries by myself), and I see a lot of new farmers come into the agriculture office where I work thinking the same thing. But most quit after a few years–sadly, can’t take the pain.

Not to get even more religious, but I’ll bring up another point. Right there in Genesis, written thousands of years ago, are the first documented descriptions of the two farm paradigms: (1) the organic, ideal, untainted, natural, sustaining garden planted by God and (2) the cursed and fallen land outside it, destined to be worked by the toilsome efforts of man. Whatever you make of Genesis, the point here is the two conflicting paradigms of agriculture are accounted for thousands of years ago. 

Humanity has been in a state of cognitive dissonance ever since. Which is kinda reflected in my own thoughts about agriculture: I support farmers who shoot for a higher ideal (we may not be able to get back into the garden, but maybe we can get closer to it). Meanwhile, I also support conventional farmers who undergo the toilsome and often thankless labor of feeding the vast majority of Earth’s inhabitants, and in so doing bear the brunt of original disciplining while the rest of us eat and critique their farming methods. 

The way I look at it, there’s no perfect paradigm of farming, no perfect farm, no perfect farmers. Just people, most of whom are exhausted and trying to make it through the day, doing the best they can with their particular helping of primordial soup.