Saturday, September 8, 2007
Willie and the boys will be holding the 22nd Farm Aid concert tomorrow in New York City. New York City? Farm Aid was first held in Champaign, Illinois, in 1985, back during the farm crisis years. There seemed then to have been a clear mission for the concert--helping farmers who were losing their land. Now the talk is a lot about the "Good Food Movement" and such.
There won't be any "factory-farmed junk food" sold at the Randalls Island concert tomorrow, according to a story in the New York Times on Friday.
What a slate of performers for this concert. Besides Willie Nelson, there's Neil Young, Merle Haggard, Gregg Allman, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Derek Trucks, for example. You certainly can't fault Farm Aid for its music. You have to admire that the founders of the show have stuck by their guitars on this mission for the past 22 years.
But, is there something a bit elitist now about Farm Aid? The theme of local food production is fine. But food in the wider world in which most of us live requires mechanization, transportation, and new technology. Forty acres and a mule might be a cool name for a band, but it's a myth for feeding the masses, isn't it?
"For the first time, concert concessions will feature all fresh, local, organic and family farmed food," a Farm Aid press release says. No hot dogs at this show.
Farm Aid claims to have raised $30 million for farmers, or at least for "programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the current system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms."
I do wish I could go hear the music. And it would be interesting to see how many farmers are there rockin' the day away.
By the way, a video replay of the concert will be available on the Web on Thursday through September 19 at farmaid.org.
Posted by John Walter at 7:48 AM