Saturday, September 12, 2009

Grammar Lesson

Pinwheel Farm.

Lots easier to spell than "Natalya Lowther", right?

But actually, more frequently "Pinwheel Farms".

Let's get this straight once and for all (I wish!):

Pinwheel Farm (noun, singular) is where Natalya farms (verb, present tense, singular) with the occasional help of farm (adjective) volunteers who help her farm (verb, present tense, plural) in accordance with the farm's (noun, singular, possessive) established policies and practices which are a bit different than many other farms' (noun, plural, possessive) policies.

There is no such place or business as "Pinwheel Farms." And one of my unwritten policies is that there will never be such a thing as "Pinwheel Farms." One farm is enough...nay, more than enough...for me.

So what's up with this egregiously common error? Where does the persistant "s" come from?

It is an artifact of the globalized, incorporated, consolidated, multinational "food" system which has evolved mostly within my lifetime. The "Xxxxxxxx Farms" abomination means literally that several farms have been consolidated or incorporated or have formed a cooperative under a common name. They are no longer a family farm. They MIGHT be several family farms...or not. There might not even be any one farm bearing the singular version (e.g., Xxxxxxxx Farm).

"Xxxxxxxx Farms" is inevitably a marketing device. It's a brand name. To me, it's a red flag indicating that if you spend your food dollars on products bearing this name, your money is not all going to the production of food or the support of the workers producing the food. Instead, a portion is going to public relations and advertising people, graphic designers, ad sales people and media mongerers of all sorts, printers and publishers, IT people of all strata from R&D to manufacturing to programming to repairs.... The list goes on.

And they all have one job. To convince you to buy "Xxxxxxx Farms's" products on no merit except a familiar name and reputation...familiarity and reputation mainly based on other people being mesmerized by the same ads you were.

The really insane thing about such "farmses", from my point of view, is that ALL these people who are creating the marketing image take home more money and lead more leisurely lives than the farm workers or even farmer owners, who are the ones actually taking soil and sunshine and seeds (and in my case, sheep manure) and adding some water and stirring until they end up--miraculously--with FOOD.

I would like to challenge my readers to undertake several small reformations:

1. Stop putting an "s" on the end of farm names unless it is clearly a collection of distinct farms or an established brand name. If you aren't sure, ask...and make singular your "default setting."

2. Try to buy food from farms that don't have an "s" at the end of their name. A good place to find these is your local Farmer's Market, and that's the best way to make sure nearly ALL of your food dollar goes to support the people who are mucking about in the dirt to produce your food.

3. When you see "Xxxxxxx Farms" on a sign or label, try to find out why they have an "s" on the end. Sometimes it reflects a true cooperative effort among farmers, but often it's just a marketing ploy to conjure up an image of a wholesome, small, family business--but it ain't necessarily so.

4. Educate others about this.

Thanks! Stepping off the soapbox now....

1 comment:

Wandering Coyote said...

Great post! I've never even thought of this pluralization of farms thing, but you're right - it's a corporate branding thing usually. Good to know!