If you have a high speed Internet connection and want to while away some time on a dreary winter day, go to youtube.com, type “agriculture” in the search window, and scan some of the 17,500 or so videos that are offered.
Youtube, in case you’ve been on an extended sabbatical in the outer reaches of the galaxy, is the Web site where almost anyone with a video camera (or even a cell phone camera) can post a movie clip about almost anything — be it serious, informative, inane, or totally gross. Most are amateurish in the extreme. Some become instant hits, viewed by millions, while others languish in obscurity.
A video of a British cell phone salesman singing an operatic aria on the UK “Pop Idol” show got an astounding 37 million hits. Agriculture videos, on the other hand, are not exactly boffo box office, most tallying only a few hundred viewings, some as few as 10.
Aside from being amazed that the Web site has made zillionaires out of its creators, I’m not a youtube fan. It can be a major time-waster, and I much prefer to spend what little spare time I have with a good book instead of watching people doing goofy things in hopes of gaining a modicum of notoriety.
But occasionally somebody will e-mail a link to a video and if the title looks interesting and I have a couple of minutes, I’ll watch.
It thus occurred to me to type in “agriculture” to see what would pop up. While I didn’t look at all 17,500 of the titles that were listed (many are foreign language), I did scan through the first thousand or so to get a feel for what’s there, and actually viewed maybe a couple dozen.
Folks, if you think agriculture is poorly portrayed in the mainstream media, you oughta get a load of some of the youtube videos. Among the titles:
“As We Sow: The Corporate Farm”
“Agriculture vs. Technology — Good vs. Evil, Heaven vs. Hell, The Eternal Struggle”
“The Seven Deadly Myths of Agriculture”
Well, you get the picture. One video, noting the American farming boom of recent years, refers to the “appalling conditions and lucrative policies that prop up agriculture in the U.S., while feeding on millions of vulnerable lives [migrant workers].” There are others in a similar vein.
Of the 17,500 agriculture videos, nearly 3,000 are about organic farming, often decrying conventional agriculture and its use of commercial fertilizers and pesticides. Almost 400 are about agricultural pesticides and are heavily anti-chemical; a couple hundred are about biotechnology; another couple hundred about corporate agriculture; a hundred or so about treatment of farm animals.
In a culture that’s increasingly urban and video-centered, the representation of American agriculture once again leaves something to be desired.
Slightly less than 500 remotely have anything to do with the benefits of agriculture or the role U.S. farmers play in this nation’s food security. Among those, check out the clips on Food vs. Fuel by Kentucky FFAers in the Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board’s youtube video contest; links are at http://www.kysoy.org/news/index.html.