Why Non-Farmers Should Care About John Deere’s Repair Memo

Michael Calore: Well, it’s sort of like being here in San Francisco and on one side of you, somebody’s talking about Bitcoin and on the other side of you, somebody’s talking about, I don’t know, jQuery or …

Lauren Goode: Web3.

Michael Calore: Whatever the kids are into these days. I don’t know.

Lauren Goode: Right, yeah. So, slow going in the right to repair world, but also some movement that’s encouraging if you are a person who tends to favor the side of repairing your own devices.

Michael Calore: I am optimistic as usual.

Lauren Goode: That doesn’t surprise me, you’d be optimistic.

Michael Calore: I know.

Lauren Goode: You and I are both soaked in technology all the time, so we see some of the really great upsides of all of this connectivity and some of the more obvious downsides. And one of those downsides is, as everything in our lives becomes more internet connected, as companies try to monetize them by selling services like recurring revenue or selling you a service to repair something—or selling you a service to get that software update or monthly recurring revenue or whatever it is—they’re going to hold on tighter to your experience of it. So you actually kind of lose ownership even when you own something.

Michael Calore: Yeah, it’s a bad trend. It’s really started influencing my own purchasing decisions. I look at things and I wonder, if I disconnected this from the internet, would it still be useful to me? Look at this power cable, does it this look like something that I could repair? It looks kind of flimsy. Would it be easy to replace? I really do think about these things now, and I didn’t necessarily think about those things just a few years ago. So all of the reporting and all the editing of these stories that you’ve been writing has really been influencing my mind.

Lauren Goode: Well, it’s a team effort, certainly. Plus, I’m really glad that I’m just influencing your mind. I sound like a cult leader, that’s great.

Michael Calore: Oh, yes. Whatever you say, Lauren. Yes.

Lauren Goode: All right. Let’s take another quick break, and then we’re going to come back with recommendations. Let’s try to make our recommendations have nothing to do with tech.

Michael Calore: OK.

[Break]

Lauren Goode: All right. Mike, what’s your recommendation this week?

Michael Calore: OK, I’m going to recommend a book. This is a book that I devoured over the holidays. It’s called Hippie Food.

Lauren Goode: Yes. This is the perfect anti-tech book. OK. I don’t even know what it’s about. Please tell us.

Michael Calore: It’s a history book. It’s a recent history book. The subtitle is “How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat,” and it’s written by Jonathan Kauffman, who is one of our own. He’s a San Francisco–based journalist, was recently the restaurant critic for SF Weekly, I believe, in East Bay Express. Anyway, this book is old, it’s five or six years old. But I just got around to reading it. It’s a history book. It traces the history of what we knew as health food, things like tofu and fake meat and nutritional yeast and sprouts and whole grain bread, brown rice, all of these things that were basically invisible to American society and Western society in general until about 50 years ago. So what happened? The hippie movement, the Back to the Land movement, the macrobiotic movement, people who got very interested in Eastern religion and Hinduism and Buddhism, and traveled to Asia in the middle part of the 20th century, came back to this country and said, “Look at all these wonderful things you can eat that are not bad for you.” Also, the rise of preservatives in our food and automats and fast food, all these things influence the way that we as Americans eat. All of this stuff existed in the counterculture for years and they became mainstream. I grew up with all of those things being normal, like tofu and brown rice and whole grain bread and sprout sandwiches and avocado toast, all being normal. So it was interesting for me as my own journey of a plant-based person to read the book and get up to speed on the long history of all this stuff. And also, I didn’t know this, but there was a commune in Tennessee called the Farm. I’ve had the Farm Cookbook for a really long time since I was a teenager, and I’ve made almost everything in it. But what I didn’t know is that you can look in the cold case at your local grocery store, and you can see brands like Lightlife and Wildwood and Tofurky, and all of those brands were started by people who lived on communes in the 1970s. It’s fascinating. It’s like, “Wow, who knew?” Anyway, I got really into this book, and it’s impossible to read it without getting hungry, especially if you’re a vegetarian or a person has veganism like me. And I can highly recommend it if you’re at all interested in natural foods or health foods or just weird history stuff: Hippie Food by Jonathan Kauffman.

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