Friday, July 09, 2010

Jews and gardening

Reading The Jewish Century made me wonder if Jewish Americans (Mercurians) are less likely to "love the soil" than other groups (Apollonians) because non-agrarian occupations have been a big part of their history (notwithstanding Fiddler on the Roof).  I've noticed that people with farming backgrounds often have a real affection for gardening.

The General Social Survey asked people if they've done any gardening in the past year:

Percent who garden (N = 1,242)

Irish Protestant 71.0
German 67.8
Scandinavian 65.0
Scottish 64.0
English/Welsh 63.0
Italian 62.7
Polish 59.0
Irish Catholic 57.4
Mexican 53.6
Black 43.7
Jewish 39.4

Jews are less likely than other groups to garden, but it looks like living in urban areas is a factor. I ran a logistic regression model with gardening as the dependent variable and Jewishness and population size of residence as predictrors. Even after taking into account the effect of population size--and it does matter--Jews are still significantly less likely to garden.

Where people choose to live seems to depend on a love of the land. My dad grew up on a farm and moved us out of a town of 50,000 people when I was 13 because there wasn't enough elbow room! He liked cornstalks for neighbors and was willing to commute to work for the privilege.    

In a similar vein, Jews aren't into guns and hunting either. (This is a trend for all Americans--as Slezkine wrote, we're all becoming Jews.) It was cool (and weird) that the guy who taught me to target shoot was Jewish, and he berated me for not being sufficiently anti-gun control.


  1. Very fascinating, but instead of taking account just population size of residence, you need to take into account population size where the individual grew up. Most American Jews live in suburbs (or exurbs) now but they grew up urban. Virtually none grew up rural.

  2. I wonder how many members JPFO has. No idea, but I bet it isn't too large.

  3. I once bought a t-shirt from the JPFO. It had a picture of Hitler giving the Nazi salute and said something like, "All in favor of gun control, raise your right hand!"

    Unfortunately, I lived in Manhattan at the time and there was no opportunity for me to wear it in public.

  4. Saint Louis4:24 PM

    I see blacks came in next to last, and they certainly have a history of farming in this country. Of course, they probably don't view that farming experience quite as fondly as other groups.

  5. Yes, I've suspected for years Jewish people, on average, disliked gardening and farming. Animal and plant breeding naturally awakens heredity insights in the inquisitive mind.

    This explains why the science of the human genome was anathema to many 20th century Jewish intellectuals and their susceptibility to Marxist egalitarian philosophy.

    It has taken the the unraveling of the human genome using 21st century technologies to begin to change this.

  6. "Animal and plant breeding naturally awakens heredity insights in the inquisitive mind."

    Occam called, he wants his razor back.


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