Yesterday, Oakland animal control officials confiscated twenty one malnourished rabbits from an apartment building near Lake Merritt. The rabbits were apparently living in filthy overcrowded conditions. The rabbits had been fed nothing but white rice, and were covered with urine burns. These rabbits were apparently on their way to the dinner table.
I have very conflicted feelings about all of this.
I have to say that I've become rather uncomfortable with the orthodoxy of the urban farming movement. I've long had an interest in raising my own food, and have done so whenever I had access to some land. So you would think that I would be delighted by my fellow urban gardeners.
In truth, I've become uncomfortable with what I read about the urban farming movement. Those folks seem so damn sanctimonious, as if they singlehandedly invented agriculture. I tire of articles about urban hipsters, giving their vegetable gardens ironic farm-names, and patting themselves on the back because they are killing animals in their own back yards.
So, in an effort to better understand my feeling on all of this, I recently joined the East Bay Urban Agriculture Alliance. I figured I needed to meet the people I'd been reading about, and draw my conclusions from actual experience, not hearsay.
I really want to like my fellow gardeners, but somehow some of these folks (or the articles written about some of these folks) just rub me the wrong way. There's a subset of urban gardening blogs where the writers are so intent on proving their own hipness that I just have to laugh. "Look at me," the blogs shout. "I'm a total badass. I have an Ivy League education, but I'm authentic, because I live in the ghe-tto. I'm planting motherfarkin' potatoes in the motherfarkin' dirt. I'm going to kill and eat a small animal. I'm so farking rad."
Tell that to an actual farmer.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to clear my head. I'll be out back, weeding my little vegetable garden.