The USDA is a powerhouse agency of agricultural production support as defined by corn, soy and wheat. It is the friendly big brother of large corporate farming.
However, as an agency of consumer gardening education it is a total flop. The USDA propagandizes the consumer gardening market with growing advice that is glaringly out of date. All they seem to know is dig, dig, dig.
Their educators appear to know very little about modern urban food production methods such as portable micro gardens, sub-irrigation, simplified hydroponics, aquaponics and hydroculture. As a result, dollar a day people in emerging economies know more about these methods than we do. They get their information from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
It is an egregious situation that we not only pay USDA educator salaries but we also pay for out of date information. It is time to call it what it is and that is a gross waste of taxpayer money and harmful to urbanized society.
Mark Bittman is an American food journalist and author. He wrote a weekly column for The New York Times dining section called The Minimalist. The final The Minimalist column was published on January 26, 2011. Bittman will continue writing as a columnist for the New York Times Magazine, and he will have a column in the paper's Opinion section; he will also be blogging.