By: Ellen Freudenheim
Published: Huffington post, Oct. 1, 2012

American college graduates are drifting back to the second oldest profession in the world: farming.

Liberal arts grads, including kids with pricey degrees from Princeton and Wesleyan, are choosing to work on small, green-minded farms, reports a recent New York Times article.

Punting on entry level jobs and office drudgery, they instead are wading up to their proverbial elbows in hay and manure, engaging in physical labor, and getting a graduate seminar from Mother Nature.

The allure of an environmentally responsible, low-pesticide kind of agriculture is a logical outcome of the eco-conscious gestalt that partially defines this new generation.

The romance of raising one’s own food is just a baby step from the slow food movement, “edible schoolyards” projects, and Michelle Obama’s White House garden. It’s related to campus concern over the climate crisis, the substitution of fast food for “real food,” and the sad oxymoron of food insecurity for the obese poor. Oh, and add to that list the crummy politics and perversely unhealthful financial incentives underpinning global agribusiness.

It may seem weird to the parental units, but sustainable farming is in.

Un-Fast Food in Sukran’s Garden
In mid-September, I visited western Anatolia in Turkey where such ideas as “small farm,” “organic,” and “locally-grown” are so old hat they predate the fez. And from that trip, some words of wisdom for young American wanna-be farmers with sustainability on their minds:

Lesson #1: Plan Ahead
While tourists muse on the Roman ruins of Ephesus, heedless of where our next meal will come from, rural Turkish women are reenacting a timeless rite of survival: preparing the harvest bounty for the winter. During the still-warm autumn months, it’s not uncommon to see small groups of women working outside their homes, using canoe-length wooden paddles to stir food in huge metal vats cooking over a wood fire.
Moral of the story: If you’re not going to rely on the supermarket (or restaurants, or mom’s fridge), then you have to plan ahead.

Lesson #2: Keep It Simple

The vats in question — some three feet deep and equally as wide, almost as big as a Sultan’s tub — are filled with the same burbling red sauce as last year, and the year before. Tomato sauce is an Anatolian staple, used in a popular cold green bean dish called taze-fasulye, and a thousand and one varieties of lamb stew. Let American foodies fiddle with the recipe, worrying over the melding of the complex flavors of truffles, shallots and wine. Turkish tomato sauce is healthful, but couldn’t be more basic: stewed tomato, cooked either with or without hot green peppers, salt, some herbs.

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