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Strawberries and Caneberries
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Agriculture and Natural Resources Blogs
MON, NOV 30 2020
by Thom Flewell
on November 24, 2019 at 8:24 PM
Remember Mark Twain’s comment that ‘reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’
by Mark Bolda
on November 25, 2019 at 12:28 PM
Great seeing you this morning too Thom at the organic transplant meeting. Excellent discussion of the topic as a whole with good participation.  
I agree with you, strawberries in California are a loooooong way from going extinct. There's too much incentive in the way of money and solvable problems for that to happen. Plus what would we all do with our time?
by Kyle
on November 27, 2019 at 1:53 PM
I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...
by Mark Bolda
on November 27, 2019 at 6:41 PM
Hi Kyle,  
This is Carl Sagan, circa 1995? I am familiar with the trope that the relative loss of manufacturing in the US compared to others spells doom for the nation as a whole. To respond, I'll share that while manufacturing has indeed slipped as a percentage of the whole economy, in absolute terms it has grown. The other problem with this thinking is that it assumes that other countries are in stasis when they have not been at all. As we all know, there has been some very rapid growth in manufacturing in other countries over the past twenty years, most notably of course in China, who are catching up after having successfully reorganized their economies with the net result of a reduction in the relative size of the US manufacturing output globally.  
Let's also push back on the idea, quite common I know, that service and information don't really measure up to manufacturing when it comes to economic activity. To make my point, let's take an example from our own little world of the berries. Have we not gone from producing something like 4000 crates of berries with six acre feet of water in the 1970's to producing on a regular basis in excess of 10,000 crates per acre with just 2.5 acre feet of water? None of the science that got us to these fantastic levels of efficiency was tangible like a widget coming out of a factory, but nonetheless this developed information and the service of extending it all out to the strawberry producers resulted in some pretty substantial gains to our economy.  
Finally, I do agree with Dr. Sagan that for those of us whose work it is teach others about science have our work cut out for us. One can see how frustrated he was with what he saw as an expanding wave of ignorance and a diminishment of rational thinking in our society. Personally, I don't think the terminus of this trend is the dystopian view you share above, but likely something like we have now, because it's probably been that way since the founding of the Republic. So it goes, but certainly I'm not going to be one to throw up my hands and give up on teaching good science and the empirical approach to understanding the world that goes with it either.
by Mark Bolda
on February 28, 2020 at 7:54 PM
This book still sits with me. I've still been cogitating on it, the more I think about it I think Garthman was trying to prove the larger point of the failure of capitalism to serve the greater good but lost her way making it into an directionless collage of complaint. I've thought on how I would do it were I Julie Garthman, and a far more powerful approach would have been to organize her work into the Marxist theme of capitalism devouring itself as no more surplus value is left to be wrung out of labor as immigration ceases and growers shift to machine picking, all the while the ground yields less as disease problems wax in the absence of fumigation. As with Marx however, the precise outcome of this unfolding of local history would be unspecified and make for an unsatisfactory end.  
Who knows? Maybe Venezuela?
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