AT NATURE'S PACE by Gene Logsdon

AT NATURE'S PACE

Farming and the American Dream

KIRKUS REVIEW

 The author (Two Acre Eden, 1971) has written a good deal about farming in books and articles, and these essays (1980-92) were written, by Logsdon's own admission, ``out of anger'' at the decline of rural society, the result, he believes, of ``a nation's greed.'' Here he targets some root causes--from educational, media and governmental malfeasances. In 1986 Logsdon took on some of the thorny matters leading to ``agricultural suicide'': the emphasis on surplus, insuring market glut; interest-rate devilment; and particularly the 70's boom psychology, then the lowering inflation, undercutting the paper- rich farmer who'd learned to borrow money, buy a farm and buy another when the price rose. In a 1980 essay, Logsdon has an instructive imaginary dialogue with three model farmers-- ``agribusiness''; the middle-income farmer; and--the happiest--the small farmer. (Definitely teacher's pet, this last is the skilled farmer like the Amish variety Logsdon admires: doesn't borrow or buy new equipment, rotates crops, uses no herbicide, etc.) In other essays, Logsdon comes down heavily on the side of the small-scale farm, which diversifies with complementary, independent farm units. He has pleasant things to say about horses and old tools, all economically sound. He is merciless, though, in his precision- bombing of the colleges of agriculture, mere ``havens for golf-turf science'' and for the waste of soil through heavy machinery, toxic chemicals, and erosion. The closing essays are nice appreciations of woodcutters' pleasures and of viewing the acres (Logsdon paces his in Ohio.) With an introduction by poet Wendell Berry, a sturdy blast for the rural life. Good reading for farmers and Aggie majors and for those who might ponder, as consumers, Logsdon's caveat: ``It is cheaper to raise a zucchini in your garden than on your megafarm.''

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-42741-4
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1993