Irrigation ditch

Irrigation ditch.

When truth and hyperbole combine

All it takes is a little truth, coupled with hyperbole to assert some silly notions and false premises that make little sense when you get right down to it.

I’ve often heard a popular radio talk show host claim that “words mean things.” I tend to agree. That’s why when I see phrases like “big agriculture” (which comes from the oft-slung media slogan “big-pharmaceutical”) and now phrases like “U.S. industrial agriculture,” it’s not an easy leap of logic to figure from where these folks are arguing.

There’s truth in the claim that California’s Central Valley is sinking. Photographs and studies show this. It is also not a stretch to figure why, though eyes cannot actually see the cause.

Want access to the very latest in agricultural news each day? Sign up for the Western Farm Press Daily e-mail newsletter.

The website GoodFood World takes the positive message and truth that “Good Food is everybody’s business” and turns it into hyperbole by claiming that “U.S. industrial agriculture” is to blame for the Valley’s subsidence. Included in this hyperbole is a claim that hydroponics and artificial lights are being used in northern cities in “artificial growing factories.”

Judging from the implied tone of the article through phrases like “U.S. industrial agriculture” and “artificial growing factories,” readers are left to assume that American agriculture is bad… very bad. The article also takes digs at fossil fuels, carbon emissions and global warming in an exaggerated manner.

While climate change is a natural part of the Earth’s existence – we’ve had ice ages and periods of relative warming long before the industrial revolution – we would not have industry or life as we know it absent the use of fossil fuels.

Can we be more responsible in their use? Yes. Can we do a better job to protect the air we breathe and water we drink? Certainly. Can we stop with the incessant whining and false premises that because some practices cause pollution we must throw out the baby with the bath water? I would hope so.

Proponents of such messages seem to ignore the root cause of the Central Valley’s subsidence. While we can point a finger at underground aquifers being over drafted, it would not be the issue it is today if some of the same folks were not successful in stopping the flow of surface water to farms that was developed decades ago to prevent such an occurrence.

Maybe part of our problem has been buying into the premise that rampant urban growth, without a serious look at where the new water will come from to support it, is automatically good. While urban planners and others talk about certain mitigating factors in development projects that must be met, I’ve never seen a new urban development built that did not fully replace the farmland it took.

Stay tuned for my next blog as I continue this thought.


Follow me on Twitter @ToddFitchette

TAGS: Agenda
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.