In the early 2000s I was researching education on the Internet and one of the eye-opening discoveries I made was that online experiences are real because experience is real. Don’t we all know that by now.

How often do you use the word “real” anymore? During that same period I was in love with Baudrillard’s pithy: Disneyland exists so the rest of America seems real. I was certain that visitors to Las Vegas were saying, “Let’s go see the Eiffel Tower,” completely unconcerned about the implications of that utterance.

Well here I am in 2022, battling on Twitter and Gettr for women’s sex-based rights.  Does a man: an adult human male have the “right” to compete against women athletes let alone be called a woman? It comes down to that.

But the issues are much deeper, far-reaching and as such, I can say with complete sincerity that I’m happy I’ll be dead sooner than later.

Until then, I’m going to blog a bit on some themes that engage me. In my mind they’re all profoundly connected.


I recently asked a dear friend and recovering farmer what he thought about hydroponics. On my walks I pass a neighbor who's started selling the salad greens his front yard is filled with. I was curious about them.

Here’s what he wrote.

I have serious reservations about hydro growing, though I understand its utility.

My resistance stems from the underlying presumption used in hydroponics: that all a plant needs to grow is a recipe of chemicals and that scientists have it all figured out. This level of scientific reductionism drives me crazy.

Yes, a plant will grow in a laboratory (your average hydro system is more laboratory than farm) and will produce food grown from a concoction of chemicals (artificial or organically derived, or with added components like fish tanks — to me this doesn’t much matter); and that humans can eat this food and live (or at least not die for a while).

But this brings me to question the faulty presumption that humans are merely a chemical soup and it doesn’t matter where those chemicals come from.

The fundamental presumption at work here is that humans and the food we eat are not part of nature. If anything describes my concept of original sin, this is it.

Until recently there was little scientific understanding of the soil microbiome, with almost all of modern agriculture devoted to the idea that soil is an inert medium made of ground-up minerals that needs chemicals in order to grow food. (Ironically, this is what modern agriculture does to the soil).

The plants we eat, or that are eaten by our farm animals, evolved in natural soil teeming with microbes — until the advent of modern agriculture. These microbes evolved along with the plants and over countless millennia they became a symbiotic system working together to feed and support each other — microbes and plants, and ultimately us. The microbes supply the plant with the minerals necessary for flavor and nutrition, and the plant supplies the microbes with they sugars they need survive.

As long as we have land to grow food on I will advocate for growing food in living soil, as that will provide us nutritious food that tastes great. (Hydro food to me is flavorless).

To me it all comes down to community — planetary (land, air, sunlight), microbes, plants, animals, humans, and ultimately culture. A culture that maintains a connection with all these realms is inherently more robust, for it has all these systems working in harmony for a common gain — it has momentum to survive. The more disconnected a culture is from the others, the more fragile it is, with all manner of suffering and degradation required to sustain it. Hmmm… that describes a culture I know of.

Hydroponics seems like surrendering to that disconnected culture, providing it momentum to continue its degradation of human purpose. As long as I have a choice, no thank you. I’ll play in the resistance.

But if humans keep multiplying and warming the planet, and the land is unable to support our appetite, then the only option we may have left is to grow our food hydroponically.


If you’ve eaten an apple you picked off the tree, or a tomato you’ve grown yourself, you know the difference between real and something else.

If you’d like to comment or exchange views, mail me or DM (direct message) me.

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