Monday, April 18, 2011

People much smarter in 1927 than 2011

Reader David Olsen has been kind enough to send excerpts of publications of the Northern Nut Growers Association from the 1920's - an address given by J. Russell Smith in 1924 and the annual report from 1927.

To the extent that any of this material was ever under copyright I doubt it is any more, and even if it was this information is so important - if it was true then it is 100 times more true (if indeed it's possible for something to be "more true") today - that I doubt anyone would object to me reprint huge chunks of it in their entirety.

Original text is in bold.  My comments are in italics.

Robert T. Morris was a friend and correspondant of J. Russell Smith and is quoted - or at least referenced - in Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture.

By Robert T. Morris, New York City

Most of us have had a sort of general knowledge about acorns without thought of their potential in the way of future food supply.  It was only when my interest happened to become engaged in a special way that the subject began to expand rapidly and I soon found that a whole lifetime could be devoted to this one subject.  (You don't say...)  The situation was very much like that in which the German professor found himself when he suddenly realized that he had wasted a lifetime on verbs when he should have given all effort to concentration upon the dative case.  (I can't think of anything more tragic.  Actually I hope that studying acorns isn't anything like that at all.  And since I had no idea either...)

The subject of acorns for food supply has remained in the background for the reason that farmers are now producing so much more food than we can use that they do not know what to do with the over-supply.  Farmer are trying all sorts of quack methods for relief in order to escape from a situation which they have brought upon themselves.  (It is now 84 years later and they still are, although I should say it's a chicken/egg issue: are farmers growing too much grain because of the perverse system of incentives provided by the government, or is the perverse system of incentives in place to rescue farmers who can't stop growing too much grain?)  The next move, it seems to me, will not be so much in the way of finding new food supplies but rather the cheapening of those which we already have.  (See also: high fructose corn syrup)  Cheapening of the ones we already have will occur when the expense of labor and tillage of the soil for the raising of annual crops will diminish and we then turn to subsoil crops which avoid the expense of tillage and labor.

Acorns already belong to tree crops which are utilized largely as food for livestock and fowls and in many parts of the world they constitute a basic food supply for man.  It is only recently that the screw point of my interest in acorns became engaged in thread of the subject.  (I love that little turn of a phrase... get it?)

To see where the screw point of Robert T. Morris's interest led him, tune in to the next episode of "As The Acorn Turns."

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