I have been writing a column for various newspapers and magazines for over 40 years. I usually write about whatever pops in my mind when I sit down to write. But every once in a while, I’ll have some philosophical thought that I feel needs expression. I appreciate living in a society where, at least theoretically, we can all express our opinions and not offend too many people. Over the last 40 years that aspect of communication has just about faded away since anything any one person says now is bound to offend somebody else.
Satire is a way of making a statement, usually humorous, without actually speaking directly about the subject you are addressing. The future of agriculture is a serious concern for many people, particularly folks in areas like southeastern North Carolina who have traditionally depended on the land for their livelihood. Several years ago, I wrote a satirical column that received mixed reactions because so many people did not understand that it was written as satire.
In recent years there has been considerable speculation as to the future of agriculture in North Carolina. The decline in tobacco farming is the most obvious sign that we need to look for an alternative to raising those crops historically connected to us. In that search I hope we will not ignore or overlook one source that could be the savior of our economy. I am speaking of spaghetti. Just the noodles, of course.
Admittedly, finding spaghetti seed could be a problem. However, that could be solved by grafting spaghetti stems and planting the grafts in the field.
Personally, I have some difficulty in determining which end of the spaghetti plant goes in the ground since both ends are exactly alike. If the wrong end is placed in the soil, the spaghetti grows downward resulting in a poor-quality stalk that is hard to harvest.
Sustaining a field of spaghetti is a fairly complex job. The stalks must be planted in extremely dry soil since water tends to make the spaghetti wilt. The resulting wilted spaghetti can cause extreme harvesting problems since the stalks are mowed like hay. Limp spaghetti is very difficult to cut and even harder to bale.
Despite these minor problems, a good stand of spaghetti can be achieved if the farmer pays close attention to his crop. Some botanists have determined that talking to plants is helpful and this principle can be applied to growing spaghetti. Of course, best results can be achieved if you speak only in Italian.
Marketing the spaghetti is the biggest problem. The auction method will not work any better than it did with tobacco. The lack of knowledgeable buyers would be a major obstacle. The most positive aspect of marketing — and the thing that makes me think it could be a profitable venture — is that the government doesn’t want anything to do with it.
As I said, this original proposal was met with some skepticism and some outright disparagement. One lady here in the county speculated that I had “way too much time on my hands.”
A gentleman from Bladen County seriously suggested that I contact an Italian agronomist and even sent me his address in Rome.
The question of what we can do to improve agricultural production in southeastern North Carolina still persists, and I still don’t have a real answer. I have given some thought to the production of grits trees but have not found grits seed that will grow in our variable climate. Grits need a steady meteorological environment. But just in case anybody does not recognize my suggestion as satire, I hereby officially withdraw my proposal.