J.A. Everitt Seeds, January 1900
To start the new year, a catalog from the very start of a new century.
January 1900 “dawns brightly for the farmers of America” boasted the cover of the J. A. Everitt Seed Catalog. I wonder if Mr Everitt, growing his business since the late 1800s, knew just how much farming would change in the 20th century?
Page 5 pictures not only some of the products, but also an almost suburban-looking turn-of-the-century farmer, dressed as he is in a vest and hat. By putting him in the illustration you can see just how high his new pole beans had grown (10 feet or more?) and how well they’d produced.
Also on the page are artichokes; and if they seem like an awfully fancy French food to be growing in 1900, please zoom in and read the copy, which promotes them purely as a way to prevent cholera in your hogs, by adding it to their feed. “We have never known hogs fed on Artichokes to die with cholera, while herds around them died by the score.” So, Artichokes: not for human consumption.
Later in the catalog another hint of modernity turns up – the terrifyingly-named “Ferto-Insectono” with an even-more-terrifying logo. Evidently farmers in 1900 thought nothing of dusting their crops with a product that was sold in 100-pound bags with human skeletons emerging. After all, the copy assures us it is “perfectly harmless” to persons.
Over one hundred years later, the overuse of insecticides and fertilizer has brought us to a stage where organic produce is a common option in every grocery store. I wonder if farmers are still feeding artichokes to heir hogs?