The Allure of the Rural Idyll

By Keith Kloor | February 12, 2014 11:51 am

When I want to escape the cacophony of civilization, I head to the country. I love to see all the grazing cows as I drive through a quaint rural backroad. The lush, wholesome scenery is exactly like the images on my organic milk and yogurt containers.


Maybe I come across an antique shop, where I find a wooden ironing board from the late 1800s. Not that I’d use it, but at least I’d have something in my cluttered urban dwelling to remind me of a simpler time.

I love the warm, fuzzy sensation I get when I see all the barns and farm fields in the country. It makes me feel rooted to the earth. The landscape is just like a beautiful painting you admire from a distance.


And don’t you love the smell of woodsmoke in the winter? Nothing is more home and hearth than a wood-burning fireplace. It’s primal.

And what about the people that live in the country, who tend to the cows, the fields, and the rustic barns? By God, they are the real salt of the earth. They are rugged and virtuous, just as they were portrayed in that famous commercial from a year ago.

So if the country is a nostalgic place of purity and healthful living–a rural idyll where one finds harmony with nature–then it makes sense that people, including the rich and famous, will seek out this oasis. But all you foodie enthusiasts pining for a taste of authentic country living should know that there is nothing modern or authentic about celebrity farmers living in a socially constructed agrarian paradise.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: agriculture, environment, farming, nature
  • mem_somerville

    I’ve seen a bunch of these types of articles lately. Are they aspirational–this is what you can do if you get really rich? Or are we seeing that people who are successful in one area struggle to figure out the economics of farming?

    All the farmers in my twitter feed laugh. One of them was particularly funny.

    Greeeeeen Acres is the place for me….

  • Buddy199

    Green Acres is the place to be.

    • Loren Eaton

      My favorite exchange (shows how old I am):

      Eb: Now I’ll never get to Las Vegas, Illinoiz!!

      Lisa: I thought Las Vegas was in Nevada.

  • J M

    I guess Prince Charles is the most famous advocate of this idyllic rural stuff, Downton Abbey-style 😉

    “It is the people and what they do that creates the beating heart of our countryside – the vitality that comes from the busy village shop and pub, a thriving school, from the Church and W.I [Women’s Institute] ,” he said.

    “It comes from the tractors in the fields, the skilled work of the stonewallers and hedgelayers, the livestock, the growing crops and the landscape’s biodiversity – now so much under threat from a combination of climate change, diseases of every kind and insensitive development – which is absolutely fundamental to sustainable farming and to the economy.”

    • Loren Eaton

      Who’s dumber, Lord Grantham or Prince Charles?

  • JH

    Ah, the country is so beautiful! And that little word on the package just proves it’s all true. It’s all organic, safe, and pleasant! Yum!

  • Tom Scharf

    You can’t feed the world by having your sister go milk the family cow.

    14 BILLION eggs were produce in 2010…just in Indiana alone.

    9 BILLION chickens were slaughtered in the US in 2008.

    Like clean energy, most people don’t appreciate the actual numbers in play. Unicorn chasing doesn’t pay the bills.

    One of the basic measures of economic wealth of a country is what percentage of income is spent on food.

    Kenya – 45%
    Brazil – 25%
    US – 6%

    Ask all the Kenyans which one they would prefer.


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About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


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