(This is very critical and I wrote it this way on purpose, I do not hate eco-friendly farmers.)
I recently attended a lecture/reading by poet/author Jim Minick. He told us the story of one couple, one farm, and one thousand blueberry bushes. This was the story of Jim Minick and his wife, whose name for some reason was not worth mentioning. Together they started the first certified organic pick your own blueberry farm in the mid-Atlantic. They bought, cleared, and seeded the land all with the help their family dogs. Developing a homemade irrigation system that used no electricity, they brought the power of life that only water can bring to their blueberry bushes. Once the blueberries were ready for picking, it was time to invite the community in. People arrived from all different classes and ages, apparently Minick wanted to stress that even rich people came to get blueberries on his farm. Families from all around came to experience the wonder of picking berries and building community, a community that I assume collapses as soon as the customers leave the farm. Minick soon realized that his berries could be used to barter, trading them to webmasters for their services and such. They also sold around 150 pounds of berries a week at local markets, bringing the glory of blueberries to an even larger community. He read to us many poems, mostly about blueberries.
While I do support organic and sustainable farms and have nothing personally against Minick, I do have some criticisms about this lecture. Perhaps Minick was attempting to joke, but I could not help but to notice his multiple references to fecal matter. I was slightly insulted that I was expected to laugh at this type of toilet humor during a university lecture. He also brought up the use of wool as a fertilizer. Is this truly the most sustainable method? Does this mean that Minick supports museling? I was a little concerned when I left that maybe all farmers use this method, being a vegan I do not support this. I later researched this and found it is not a very popular form of fertilization. He then went on to glorify the existence of Beanie Weanies, which to me was disturbing on a whole new level that I won’t even discuss at this time. Minick then read to us a story about gluttonous children who ate so many blueberries their mothers had to slap their hand away. Interestingly enough he goes on to say that afterwards they go out to eat sushi together, which I thought was odd because they were apparently already overeating to the point of needing to be slapped. He then read to us a poem he called, “The Intimacy of Spoons”. The poem emasculated forks and knives making obvious phallic references. The spoon was then feminized and sexualized, making obvious sexual comparisons between a woman’s body and the shape of the spoon. The poem made it clear that a knife (male, brutal, rough, used for meat) could never be like a spoon (female, nurturing, compassionate, understanding). This is a classic example of the sexual politics of meat. The next poem went on to sexualize the actual blueberries, emphasizing the ‘sexual like’ act of eating a blueberry. Minick even makes a point to talk about the tender pink phase of a blueberry, which I could not help but to interoperate as a comparison to a young “blossoming” woman. To top it all off he then discusses how he kills raccoons that attempt to eat his blueberries, and would most likely do the same to bears. My biggest problem with this, other than the obvious, is that Minick has no problem with birds eating his blueberries and even seems to encourage and enjoy watching them. This is clearly speciest. I do not believe that Jim Minick is aware of his sexist and speciest implications. Perhaps one day he will realize that the fight for environmental sustainability, the oppression of women, and the oppression of animals are all related and worth equally fighting for.