One crisp autumn afternoon toward the end of a profitable fiscal year, Mr. A. D. Midland, C.E.O. of Down-home Pastoral Farms Conglomerated, gathered all of his many and varied vegetable employees together in the warmth of the greenhouse, and was reading aloud to them from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. After finishing up the last chapter, Midland placed the book in his lap and addressed the assembled legumes, salad greens, and tubers.
“O.K., my little Veggies,” he asked, “what important lesson have we learned from this cautionary tale?”
Peter Parsnip was the first to germinate a reply, “That animals can talk!” he shouted with flatulent enthusiasm.
“Fair enough,” responded farmer Midland, barely concealing his highbrow contempt. “What else?”
“That pigs like to wear clothes and get drunk,” offered Spudwell Potato Head, one of the simpler complex carbohydrates on this or any corporate farm. Midland’s eyes rolled involuntarily as he grimaced ever so slightly. Frankly, he was beginning to question the wisdom of reading allegorical literature to life forms as congenitally unsophisticated as vegetables. Just at that moment, however, he was pleasantly surprised by a bright green head of lettuce.
“We learned that socialism is evil,” said Mr. Green the Head Lettuce thoughtfully.
The ebullient farmer unleashed a toothy grin that spanned from ear to ear. “Exactly!” he exclaimed.
Unfortunately, the profundity of Head Lettuce’s revelation was clearly lost on the rest of the audience, which remained in what can best be described as a persistent vegetative state. Undaunted, Farmer Midland sought to capitalize on what he at least viewed as a teachable moment.
“In fact,” he began, “the animals in this story represent the unbridled lust for power of an out-of-control government bureaucracy.”
“But Mr. Midland, sir, wasn’t it the animals who were suffering at the beginning of the book?” inquired a somewhat naive bale of new mown hay. “I mean, obviously horses and cows are evil, but I actually felt sorry for the cats and dogs on that farm. Wasn’t Mr. Jones kinda mean to them, too?”
At this point, the sycophantic Mr. Green intervened to buttress his corporate master’s argument. “Admittedly, this particular farmer may not always have acted in the interest of his livestock, but we should be careful not to extrapolate generalities from any one individual case…” As Head Lettuce searchingly scanned the crowd of crudités and locked eyes with of a bunch of carrots, he could see they were thickly glazed.
Meanwhile, Farmer Midland lost no time in resuming the rhetorical offensive. “Look, whatever you think of Mr. Jones’s actions in the story, you must admit they indicate he was under a lot of stress due to unwarranted government interference in his business. Government regulators not only unfairly penalized Jones for storing raw pork in an unrefrigerated warehouse warm enough to incubate flies, they further hampered his profit-making ability by restricting the sale of meat from diseased animals too sick to lift themselves off the ground.”
“There’s one thing I still don’t understand, though,” interjected Rudy Rutabaga. “Are you saying that when the animals in the story chased the farmer away, that was kind of like the government taking over the farm?”
“That’s right, rootboy,” chimed in Mr. Green, running out to patience. “Remember, all you need to know is this:
“1) Animals make up the government;
“2) Animals eat plants (i.e., us); therefore,
“3) The government will eat us if we let them.”
The medley of mixed vegetables wilted in horror. “Then who can we turn to to protect us from the government?”
“That’s where we farmers come in,” declared Mr. Midland proudly. “We represent the free market garden established to serve your unhybridized ancestors, the cause for which so many of them were willing to be sliced, diced, mashed, and pureed. So don’t let their sacrifice be in vain. Take my advice: gather up your fiber, lock tendrils together, go march into those livestock pens while you still can, and show those government farm animals who’s boss!”
After some initial debate, the intrepid vegetables finally agreed with Mr. Midland and Mr. Green, and resolved that they’d better act quickly if they were going to save themselves. So they formed up in ranks, raised up a mighty battle cry, and charged off into the holding pens where they were immediately trampled and eaten by the grateful livestock.
“Now all we have to do is drag these government animals into the bathtub and drown them,” said Farmer Midland with a wry smile. “Then we can enjoy a proper feast.”
Mr. Green laughed nervously. “How do I know you won’t try to eat me?” he asked.
Mr. Midland was quick with his answer. “That’s simple. You remind me too much of money, and only a fool devours the thing he loves.”
Upon hearing this, the head of lettuce breathed a miasmic sigh of relief.
“Besides,” the farmer added, almost as an afterthought, “salad sucks.”