There is nothing to cure you of the romance of farming like a visit to a poor farming community. As someone whose grandparents came off the farm, I have a healthy respect, even a reverence, for what farmers do. But it is hard, backbreaking work, unremitting and too often unrewarding. Rice cultivation is even more labor intensive than the produce-and-animal-husbandry of my ancestors. Anyone who can force themselves to get up in the morning and spend all day in a rice paddy deserves your utmost respect.
The farmers we visited are, we're informed, about average for China these days. They have running water, electricity, and cable television. Each person farms about 1.5 mu, or roughly a quarter of an acre, with three seasonal crops: two of vegetables, one of rice. The fact that they can get three crops out of that little amount of land tells you why China has so many people.
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