Sheryl N. Swink wrote:
> I would just like to jump into this very thought-provoking etymological and
> linguistic exchange on Sanet for a moment:
> (2) to ask Dan Worley to carefully check with his native
> Spanish-speaking farmer friends to see if he is correctly correctly
> capturing the word they use to name themselves as farmers ...
> In my experience working with farmers in the Dominican Republic and
> Argentina, the term used for "farmer" is "el agricultor" in the case of a
> male farmer, and "la agricultor" in the case of a female farmer. This also
> agrees with the information in my Spanish/English dictionary. "La
> agricultura" is what they engage in, i.e. farming or agriculture.
True. Agricultura is the activity, or the field of Agriculture. (Sorry
Dan). Although a female who farms could also be referred to as La
Agricultora, La Granjera (as opposed to El Granjero), La Productora
Agricola or even La Productor Agricola (in the generic sense, as in
"ella es (she is) una Productor Agricola - as opposed to UN Productor
Agricola), just as well.
> While I am not an etymologist, the feminine gendered aspect of this
> term probably derives from ...
I feel that the "the feminine gendered aspect of this term" in many if
not most cases derives from the fact that Spanish requires nouns (and
their corresponding pronouns and adjectives) to have gender. This in
many cases says more about the nature (or limitations) of the language
than the nature of the "thing" being "gendered". A lot of words have
both masculine and feminine meanings that are not themselves
differentiated by either traditional concepts or inherent
characteristics but rather by the empty slot (the language's providing a
way to distinguish one from the other. That is NOT a play on words).
In the end, language is created by use, so even a "wrong" use may
predominate - i.e., become consistent with "right" (i.e. common)
useage. And of course language both shapes and is shaped by thought and
perception, as both are by context and custom.
Two weeks are left to influence the definition of what's organic and
what isn't. More importantly (which is not to say that this ISN'T
important), the freedom of an individual's (or group's) right to define
his (or her) own product offering (Glick rightly stately recently that
OFPA has more to do with organic marketing than with organic
agriculture), and even to "blaze trail", to set new or different
paradigms, is at stake.
I say "more important" because after all, what we call organic (or
sustainable, alternative, ecological, or biological) agriculture rests
on the integrity of the concept. The word/concept organic was given
meaning by the useage provided by J.I. Rodale, Sir Albert Howard and
others that pioneered that use. Now that use is connected to a degree
of consumer recognition that can be given a monetary value. But the
concept's validity remains grounded in it's nature - the same nature
that gave rise to everything else (and especially, the most nitty gritty
of it all). Some of us continue to evolve, while others simply devolve
or tread water.
In other words, what we MEAN by organic will be around a long time after
the word organic itself becomes suddenly corrupted (if that happens).
Of course it already has been corrupted, to an extent that will become
more significant as it becomes more fully disclosed. But more on that
For now, I'd like to emphasize the need to keep in mind that the right
to evolve, to improve, is also at stake, along with the issues of
freedom of expression and the right to give and receive information.
OFPA's compulsory aspect continues to be it's most incongruent element,
offsetting any good that acheiving a consistent framework for a minimum
defintion of organic at the national level can purvey. If it's got
integrity, it'll float on it's own. As it stands, the prospect of USDA
certification of certifiers (and forcing a consistent - and increasingly
meaningless - standard, has done little more than call into question the
value of the whole 8 + year process.
OFPA itself is not cut in stone (and even if it were, it will weather -
and each is free to pick his or her preferred definitation of THAT
verb). OFPA will perdure, only to the degree it will become
transformed. The obligatory aspect has proven to be nothing more than a
straitjacket on whatever intrinsic integrity the organic movement had of
it's own accord.
The use of a word's meaning can not be legislated in detriment to it's
pre-eexisrting established use, nor can the right to use it be limited
to those willing to let themselves be "regulated", so they can "cash
in". (The last few months have shown that those who thought they'd form
part of the "favored few", wound up being the favorite fools of the
watchdog they thought they'd chained to "their" cause).
In short, there's plenty of words left around whose meaning can (and
will) be launched from whatever really IS life
sustaining/generating/regenerating, regardless of the way the word
organic goes. The freedom to use it (and/or other words) is what
counts, and a foolish law is a hobgoblin only of the little minds the
drew it up.
When the freedom to exploit words becomes subservient to the freedom to
stifle free expression (as Monsanto, some Texas cattle raisers and
others are trying to perpetrate), it's a sure sign that something is
rotten in Denmark, and any law founded on ending evolution will flounder
around in U.S. courts before going down the drain.
Sal is right. Forget the whole registration and fee based rigamarole,
buy your food from people you know, and call it what you damn well
Intrinsic value requires little in the way of labeling, and it'll more
than a lot of TV promotion to sell a thinking public on yet another get
richer wet dream of the already too rich (but out of contact with
reality, which after all, IS organic).
Perhaps three lessons can be drawn at this time: Don't take anything
any more seriously than it deserves, call it by it's name - say it like
it is and keep it simple, and strive to arrive at a truely permanent
solution (i.e., get clear of the rat race, reach a self sustainable
> Sheryl N. Swink
> Graduate Student
> Cornell International Institute for
> Food, Agriculture and Development
> Box 14 Kennedy Hall
> Cornell University
> Ithaca, NY 14853
> e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
new computer, new (additional, really) location (in the belly of the
same email addresses
same point of view, but kinda pressed for time
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