Dynamist Blog

The Parisian Stake in Farm Subsidies

Why are the French blowing up world trade talks with their refusal to cut agricultural subsidies? This International Herald Tribune article suggests that the answer is mostly cultural: the French affection for "the 'terroir,' the mythical landscape of farms and the men and women who tend to them."

Perhaps, but the terroir does more than support its own myth. It makes Paris Paris--the metropolis in a rural country. Already under the influence of Eugen Weber's fiesty France: Fin de Si├Ęcle, which draws a stark contrast between city and countryside at that time, I flew into Paris for the first time last week. Where was the city? I wondered. The pilot said was were just 15 minutes from landing, but we were over the boondocks. Even the Greenville-Spartanburg airport, which lies between those two South Carolina cities, isn't in such rural territory. Something weird--or at least weird to an American--is clearly going on.

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