Into the Belly of the Beast: The 2002 North Carolina Flue-Cured Tobacco Tour

By Hahn, Barbara | Southern Cultures, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

Into the Belly of the Beast: The 2002 North Carolina Flue-Cured Tobacco Tour


Hahn, Barbara, Southern Cultures


Someone in Chapel Hill actually thinks about tobacco?" I've heard this sentiment twice already today, but this time the speaker explains the surprise behind it: "Most days I think those folks don't know what supports them." I laugh my agreement, and we shake hands. She urges me to get a plate of dinner, pointing out that the hundred-odd people with nametags have already eaten. Besides, this is her home, and she insists. So I get a plate and fill it from the vats of meat and potatoes and green beans and corn. I grab a biscuit and a Styrofoam cup of iced tea, and take a seat. It's noontime on the second day of the 2002 North Carolina Flue-Cured Tobacco Tour. After our meal we're going down to the curing barns to see a state-of-the-art box-loading machine. The machine stands as the centerpiece of a prototype harvest-and-curing system that will get the leaf off the plant, precision-cured to its buyer's specifications, and out the door--all without the touch of human hands. At the moment, though, the system is still under construction: modified school buses serve to carry the tobacco leaves to the box-loader, while Hispanic workers perched above the machine on frames rigged out of two-by-fours frantically rake the harvest up the conveyor belts.

This system is just the latest in a series of technological and organizational processes that have transformed "bright" tobacco culture in the past few decades. The most obvious recent change--the death of the warehouse system of leaf marketing--gets a lot of media attention. For a century, the warehouse auctions mediated between agriculture and industry, demonstrating both the links and the divisions between manufacturing and raw material production in the tobacco industry. The colorful ritual is now giving way to direct contracts between grower and buyer, often penned before the farmer sets the seedlings in the field. Yet the demise of the warehouses obscures more important but subtler changes in agricultural production. The bright tobacco culture that flourished on the North Carolina-Virginia border, eventually spreading south into parts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, was once characterized by arduous, skilled labor, but since World War II agricultural mechanization has dramatically changed bright tobacco agriculture, especially its uses of land and labor. Technological change, however, is both the cause and the effect of social and economic transformations. The recent mechanization of bright tobacco agriculture provides a vivid illustration of how technological and social processes work together to change each other. (1)

The box-loading machine appears at the twelfth stop on the tobacco tour, which lasts two days and extends over dozens of farms and agricultural experiment stations in six counties. Sponsored by various departments at North Carolina State University (including plant pathology, crop science, entomology, and biological and agricultural engineering), the tour brings together different sectors of the tobacco industry: growers and buyers, chemical salesmen and global competitors, academics and the public. For many, it's an opportunity to visit with old friends, examine new technology, and eyeball this year's crop. N.C. State sponsors the tour to demonstrate its extension work and to exhibit the fieldwork of agricultural research stations. Months of experimentation have produced information about varietal disease resistance, insecticides, and fungicides. Tip studies have attempted to wrest more value from the topmost leaves of the plant. The tour stops at field after field of tobacco where the rows bear placards that say what was done to them. We walk into the fields to finger the leaves and make our own judgments: Did this chemical control the mosaic virus and, in this year's drought, prevent stunting? What resistance do different varieties show to the different kinds of black shank disease? When did budworms take over this field?

I'm here because I'm writing a dissertation at the University of North Carolina about the history of bright tobacco. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Into the Belly of the Beast: The 2002 North Carolina Flue-Cured Tobacco Tour
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.