I used to be eccentric. Now, I'm on-trend. It's great to see so many attractive college-educated young farmers who've decided that food is worth devoting their lives to. It's great to see my kids' public school–which used to dole out candy, cupcakes, and potato chips for every occasion–now allowing a vegetable garden on the school grounds. It's great to see The New York Times, which never had any idea what it was talking about when it came to Mother Nature, now running fun pieces week after week on subjects like bee-keeping and root-cellaring, which apparently are now rampant in the same Brooklyn neighborhoods where I used to dream about acquiring farmland.
But, as with every good thing, at a certain point, the riff-raff move in. Namely, the financial types. Check out the appalling piece in this week's Fortune about the money people smelling opportunity in arable land: "Betting the Farm" by Brian O'Keefe. The guy who's leasing huge amounts of cropland in the Sudan is particularly admirable. Is he worried about political risk? Na. "They can't change the law on me because I've got the guns," he brags. In other words, he has the right general in his back pocket.
Well, agribusiness is its own ugly thing. But, if Fortune is correct and we're going from an average of over 1 acre of arable land per person worldwide in 1960 to just half an acre by 2030, the backyard vegetable garden assumes a new importance: Not only will it turn us all into geniuses in the kitchen, it will keep us from having to ask any of these obnoxious investors for anything.