Let’s Piece Together the Truth
So, as we have seen, the LEGO Farm theme does not appear to be comfortable engaging with meat in the food system. This means, also, that builders can skip over the meat-processing aspect of how meat goes from farm to table. Along with the messiness of food processing, the economic factors like mortgages and profit are often left out of LEGO Farm. This is not merely a LEGO message. LEGO is not creating the message, but is in fact accurately reflecting truth. As we have discussed, many people don’t want to know their cows may have been raised in poor conditions, or that their berries may have been picked by exploited immigrant farm workers. In other words, they want to enjoy eating food but don’t really want to think about where their food comes from.
On the plus side, LEGO Farm presents pristine farms, with ultraclean tractors and animals, along with glistening crops. This might not be a terrible message. With LEGO, kids and adults can imagine farms as they would ideally make them. The beauty of LEGO is that anyone can be a Master Builder, building their own MOCs. As a Master Farmer the possibilities for representing environmentally friendly agriculture are endless. LEGO Farm does not present industrial agriculture with a business-as-usual model; it presents agricultural idealism. But this idealism is not in the farm sets themselves. The idealism exists within the creative freedom LEGO allows for Master Farmers to construct answers to problems.
Billie, do you use pesticides to keep the crops healthy? No, Billie replies with a roll of his eyes. I built solar-powered drones to pick the bugs off the crops.
Chris, do you let crops you can’t sell rot in your fields? Of course not, Chris answers in disgust. I built a high-speed electric train that goes from the city to the farm every day. People can come to my farm and get as much unsellable food as they want.
Sarah, aren’t you afraid of the toxic carbon emissions your tractor and combine are putting into the atmosphere? Don’t be stupid, Sarah laughs. I put conversion panels on the tractor and combine so they can operate on zero-point energy.
The LEGO Farm theme isn’t just about avoiding reality. It can inspire better realities. Yes, the farms in the LEGO Farm theme may be small. But the ideas and the inspiration for the creative future of sustainable agriculture remain big.
- 1. “LEGO Farm” is the name of a particular LEGO theme focusing on farm- based sets. It does not refer to any one individual LEGO farm set.
- 2. Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (New York: Penguin Press, 2006).
- 3. Bill McKibben, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (New York: New York Times Books, 2007).
- 4. Philip Ackerman-Leist, Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems (Santa Rosa: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2013).
- 5. Ibid.
- 6. “Butcher.” See http://www.lego.com/en-us/minifigures/characters/ butcher-4dd6e82873f74f4aaa60081bbe12402e (accessed May 26, 2016).
- 7. Bob Edwards and Adam Driscoll, “From Farms to Factories: The Environmental Consequences of Swine Industrialization in North Carolina,” in K.A. Gould and T.L. Lewis, eds., Twenty Lessons in Environmental Sociology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).