Farmer John Writes: The Warp of Words

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 4, July 10th – July 14th, 2018

Your Box This Week – Saturday Deliveries:
Please note: this summary is written before we pack your box—be aware that some guesswork is involved. Share contents often vary over the course of the week. And, as always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables.

Salad Greens  Lettuce, Pea Shoots (maybe)

Stem Crops — Fennel, Celery, Kohlrabi

Root Crops — Carrots

Fruiting Crops  Cucumbers, Summer Squash

Alliums — Sweet Onion

Herbs Basil

Sign up for the Free Recipe Service
Make sure you sign up for the Local Thyme CSA meal planning service we offer with your share. Local Thyme offers storage and handling tips and recipes customized to each week’s share. It has received many great reviews from our shareholders. Check out this sample recipe: Kohlrabi fries.

For Your Calendar: Farm Field Days, Saturday, July 21 and Saturday, September 15
Please arrive by 11 a.m. Bring a dish that will serve at least 8 to 10 people, and also bring your own beverage. We like to complete the hayrides by lunchtime at 12:30 p.m. Make sure to check out the winter upgrades in the loft of the big barn and the adjacent milkhouse, and walk to the U-Pick Garden to harvest a bag of green beans, sage and thyme. After lunch, a hayride tour of the fields will be available to those who missed the morning hayrides. Also after lunch, you can ride a hay wagon to the nearby Lodge of the Angelic Organics Learning Center, an overnight center situated in the beautiful woods along the meandering Kinnikinnick Creek. Check out Angelic Organics Field Days for details on the Field Days. 

Crop Update
We harvested the fennel and celery a little earlier than usual, to avoid possible rot that can be caused by heavy rains and extreme heat. Both the fennel and the celery are close to pristine.

We’re harvesting our early carrots this week. Cucumbers are coming on now. Sweet corn is growing dramatically fast; I think it will be ready for week 5, the week after this week. We do five plantings of sweet corn, with the intention that it will be in the boxes for 5 weeks straight, from mid-July to mid-August.


Words are of utmost importance to me. The first thing that drew me to my lovely wife Haidy was her beautiful voice and the way she used her voice to eloquently form words, making her sentences almost into melodies. Now, several years into our marriage, I am even more enamored of how she speaks and of how she writes with such crystalline clarity and thoroughness.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the movement for Transcendental Meditation, claimed that there was a time even earlier than the time of the recorded Vedas when words were identical to the things they described. He said there was no room back then for confusion due to communication, because a verbal description of an event would convey the event with exactitude, including every detail of the action and of the setting in which the action occurred.

Bruce Chatwin, in his book The Songlines, described how the Aborigines of Australia sang their world into being. A stretch of land would be assigned to a singer, and the singer would sing that stretch with exactitude, each boulder, tree, hill, ravine. If a word was mis-sung, the singer was put to death, because the error in the song would subject the land to destruction. 

A shareholder recently told me, “most people lie. We have to get used to it.”

Rudolf Steiner said that lies kill spiritual beings.

Why am I expounding about words today? Because I have recently encountered some especially disturbing ways with words.

Monsanto has unleashed, in my opinion, an especially evil scourge upon the earth, the herbicide Dicamba, a weed killer that might drift laterally, due to wind currents, or that might volatilize due to temperature differential, and be carried up, over and down perhaps miles from where it was applied, indiscriminately killing or degrading neighboring and distant soybean crops that are not genetically engineered to endure this herbicide.
I remember earlier forms of Dicamba–2,4,5-T and 2,4-D–which were used to control broadleaf weeds in corn, and were subsequently outlawed for that purpose, due to concerns for human health and for environmental health. My uncle sprayed his corn with 2,4,5-T in the 60’s. Up it went, and over, descending on his garden a half mile away, destroying it. “Ahh—but that was then,” a Monsanto spokesperson might say, “before he was properly trained in drift and volatility issues, and this is Dicamba today, not that old 2,4,5-T formula.”
These products are complicated in how they are manufactured and in their chemical composition, which makes for discourse about them by the layperson complicated, seemingly naive and uninformed. For instance, is it an amine or an ester formulation? And what is drift? And does this Dicamba drift? What is volatile? Is the Dicamba applied on a day that is conducive to volatility? Aren’t the operators trained in that, in knowing when drift might occur, and volatility might occur, and don’t they subsequently avoid spraying on those days? After all, weather forecasts are readily available to all…we live in an age of forecasts based on science.
Words, how do words serve, or not? From the Delta Press, where Monsanto responds to reports of increased dicamba drift, in which Monsanto representatives continually refer to the incidents of damaged soybean crops as symptomology. The Monsanto spokesperson says “…we can help support [the farmer], if they face concerns or symptomology…We’ll follow up and spend time walking their fields to help them where we can.” The millions of acres that might have been damaged by Dicamaba are simply known as symptomology, not death process, not farm bankruptcy, not career destruction, not environmental degradation, not even drift or volatility. It’s all symptomology. That farmer is going to have some symptomology showing up in his financial statement this year, due to some symptomology in his bean fields. He might have to get a job off the farm, due to the symptomology.
Perhaps the ultimate gift to the world by Monsanto is the eradication of differentiation in symptoms. The tens of thousands of medical codes required of doctors for insurance claims can be reduced to one code: SYMPT. It’s the contemporary version of karma.

Symptomology—a sanitized term for any misfortune—he died of symptomology. If it hadn’t been for that symptomology, he’d still be alive. 

War, famine, domestic abuse, theft, incarceration, a speeding ticket, a lost pet–all woes and misfortunes can be attributed to symptomology. It’s the contemporary version of karma.

If you don’t receive lettuce this week, it’s due to symptomology.

Should we just be?

The Beatles Let it Be

Lesley Littlefield and Farmer John Used to Bee

What is the cheery label above, I wondered when I first spotted it before reading the accompanying NPR article? Is it the logo for an ashram, for a new religion, an old religion renewing itself, a meditation movement?

Upon reading the attendant article, USDA unveils prototypes for GMO food labels and they’re…confusing, I found out that it is one of the proposed labels for GMO food, soon to be officially known as bioengineered food. 

The article states, “Other options include a smiling sun, or a circle with growing plants. The letters B-E stand for bioengineered — a term critics say is unfamiliar to the U.S. consumer, compared to more commonly used phrases like genetically engineered or GMO.”

To make sewage sludge less objectionable, it was long ago renamed biosolids. Crop chemicals are now crop protectors. Dicamba disasters in soybean fields are symptomologies. Genetically engineered crops will soon radiantly do their be-ing.

Words are Our Legacy
I encountered a lot of words from distributors, promoters and journalists when the film The Real Dirt on Farmer John and Farmer John’s Cookbook were released. A lot the words were lies–a plague of lies, it seemed. I documented many of the lies in pages and pages of carefully constructed accounts of the lies, and submitted them to my attorney. He said over the telephone, “oh, lying is legal. Only if you can prove that lying hurt you financially is it considered illegal.” 

I hung up the phone, thinking, but words should impart truth and accuracy. They are divine instruments, our precious legacy. Words are sacred. We must not abuse or mis-use words.

Please tell your friends that we are continuing to sell shares as we enter the harvest season. Send them to

Please Fold Your Boxes Properly and Return Them
The farm re-uses the vegetable boxes. Flaps are easily torn when the boxes are dismantled improperly, and then the box bottom might later burst open with fresh, organic local produce heading towards the floor. Please carefully flatten your box and return it to your delivery site. If you receive home delivery, place it in the location where your box is delivered.

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Farmer John


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  • Sandra Soczyk Rodriguez

    John, I don’t think I’ve expressed my admiration and appreciation for you as a writer. Such an important message. I love that you are writing and farming so conscientiously as a patron and steward of the earth. You are an inspiration what you have accomplished and the rich life you live! Fondly, Sandra Soczyk

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