Today began with a farm tour to a nice fellow who was interested in starting a garden to feed his family. I like hearing about new people wanting to get into farming. I’m like a cult leader loving each time a new member joins.

And farming really is like a cult. All your family and friends are concerned for you. They don’t understand this new obsession you have or why you’re suddenly spending so many hours surfing the net looking at things like the most effective way to manage excessive animal poo or how to stab a cow properly if they get bloat. They’re totally freaked out when you go on and on about how to do artificial insemination on a cow.

Like a cult, you soon begin surrounding yourself with like minded people who don’t mind the smell of goat because they smell just as bad. You stop spending time with your city friends and they become concerned at the smelly friends’ influence and how much you’re being isolated. Your city friends simply don’t understand that you don’t want to go to the nail salon with them anymore because your nails will just be chipped by the next day anyways. Nail polish doesn’t last when you’re digging in the soil.

Your friends and family are horrified by your idealization of people like Joel Salatin and Michael Pollan. Their ideas seem to be twisting your mind and leading to all sorts of strange behaviors like chickens in an urban backyard or crazy talk about milking your own cow.

Like a cult, farming starts out romantic and exciting but the longer you’re in it the harder it gets. But by the time you realize it, you can’t get out. You’ve fallen in love with the way of life even with all its problems and burdens. You wouldn’t give it up for anything and can’t even imagine life without it. And you feel so sorry for those city friends of yours who don’t know what they’re missing. But maybe if you start working on them, they’ll join too…

Yes, you’ve definitely drunk the raw milk.

Checklist for a cult

  • The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
    • Joel Salatin has the answers for farming.  Small scale, pasture-based, organic, working with nature farming is the TRUTH and LAW.
  • Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
    • Here is where farming isn’t a cult.  Although some farmers are in the cult of Monsanto who definitely has a check mark here.
  • Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
    • Another non-farming area…sort of.  Try spending 6 hours weeding and then see if your mind doesn’t feel altered.  You may even be speaking in tongues.  And that debilitating work routine.  Oh yea, that’s farming.
  • The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
    • Our government sure dictates in great detail how we should think, act, and feel
  • The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
    • I don’t think farmers claim a special, exalted status.  We don’t have to-everybody recognizes how important and special the farmer is and how we are the ones who keep society going and that the small farmer movement is going to save the world from doomsday and even maybe the zombie apocalypse.
  • The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
    • Well it IS us versus them!!
  • The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
    • Monsanto certainly isn’t held accountable to any authorities.
  • The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
    • If you’re a farmer in the cult of Monsanto, this is exactly what is taught.  You can destroy the ecosystem because it’s the only way to produce food.  The small farmer movement is trying to put accountability back into farming.
  • The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
    • Oh yea, this is farming.  Monsanto does this, but it is definitely part of the small farm, organic movement.  All those food documentaries don’t exactly make you feel good about how you live your life lol.  When’s the last time you felt no guilt when you went through a fast food drive thru or bought a starbucks in a plastic cup?
  • Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
    • You have to change your life before becoming a farmer.  Sometimes it is really dramatic.  Give up your expensive car, sell your home and move to the country…and how many of your old friends still spend time with you when you show up with cow slobber down your arm and chicken poo on your shoes?
  • The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
    • Becommmmmeeeee a farrrmmmmeerrrrrrr….
  • The group is preoccupied with making money.
    • Uh yea, show me a farmer who isn’t.
  • Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
    • Somebody asked me the other day what I did for fun.  Fun?  I asked.  I pull weeds.  No no, they said.  What do you do besides farm?  Besides farm?  I asked.  I don’t understand.
  • Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
    • We call this networking…
  • The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.
    • Farmers are the true believers and there can be no life outside farming.  Ask any farmer, even one who is going under how he or she feels about moving back to the city and getting a desk job.  Watch the horror bloom in their eyes.