There was a group of non-profit employees here years ago that were casually conversing with us beneath the packing shed. At one point, one of them said an entire sentence ostensibly in English, and I couldn’t understand a bit of it. Oh, I could understand the words individually, I suppose, but strung together in such a way transformed them into a language I did not, apparently, speak. Now, I’m a fairly well educated person with what I consider to be an above average vocabulary (not Tom Robbins level, but still), so this befuddling moment stands out in my memory. Every group, every profession, every everything it seems, has its own jargon and buzzwords. And that sentence was entirely made up of non-profit jargon and buzzwords.
I’ve realized lately that agriculture is not immune to this phenomenon. I’m not just talking about the technical jargon for soil, amendments, etc. It would appear that agriculture is filled with a rotating dictionary of its own buzzwords. And right now, “regenerative ag” is on top. It’s okay if you have to fight the urge to roll your eyes—I just did. And I guess that makes me a grumpy old woman. I remember when “sustainable” was The Thing. Every young farmer across the nation—including us-- was throwing their hat and their farms into the “sustainable” ring.
Yeah, we had to learn what it meant and how it was different than “organic”. I guess, looking back, that it was a backlash against the large scale organic farms that always seemed to be skirting at least the spirit of organic, if not the law. But organic was (and still is) the only thing with an agreed upon definition and set of agricultural methods. The only thing actually audited. “Sustainable”, when you boil it down, was just another hot buzz word. It’s definition a bit wishy-washy and varied depending on the farm and the perspective.
Twenty years later and there’s a new hot buzz word floating around the agricultural world and it means about as much as “sustainable.” I literally attended a webinar trying to explain what “regenerative ag” was and you know what? It’s as wishy-washy and variable as “sustainable.” Some people think X and some people think Y and there’s no agreed upon definition and my grumpy old woman self harkened back to Utah Phillips saying “no matter how new age you get, old age still gonna kick your butt.”
All this is to say nothing. It’s just another grumpy old woman ranting about “these young whipper-snappers” and their strange language, wishing she could regenerate an old body and attack the work of growing food with the gusto of the young
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