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No truck with

Posted by Smokey Stover on February 10, 2008 at 16:10:

In Reply to: No truck with posted by R. Berg on February 10, 2008 at 13:17:

: : : : : I just came to the "truck" discussion on Jeramiah Johnson, which I know is a few years past. I have a completely different thought to offer. In the early part of the movie, as he's asking directions where he can hunt beaver, he has bought a "genuine Hawkin and other truck". Truck, then could be "stuff" or, in the parlance of our time, "s**t". In a loose way, it seems to me he's got no complaint/b**ch with the Indians. We have words that devolve into other uses and certainly they did, too.

: : : : My Shorter Oxford dictionary says that yes, from the meaning "the practice of barter" the word evolved the meaning "commodities for barter" and from thence it was a short hop to "small articles of a miscellaneous character; odds and ends; trash". Obviously in this case it's the "small articles" sense that is meant. My SOED also says that in the US there was (from 1784) another sense: "market-garden produce; hence, culinary vegetables generally". Any of the Leftpondians here know that one? (VSD)

: : : Certainly 'truck garden' is a common variant for 'kitchen garden' here (midwestern US).

: : My first acquaintance with the terms truck garden and truck farm came in 1942, when FDR committed one of his wickedest acts by authorizing the removal of Japanese-Americans from their truck farms in California to concentration camps. However, I spent much of my childhood and adolescence working on truck farms in New York State.

: : I looked in the less short OED s.v. truck, and found:

: : "c. U.S. Market-garden produce; hence as a general term for culinary vegetables.

: : 1784 Maryland Jrnl. 14 Dec., Advt. (Thornton), A large Room..for his Customers to lodge in, and deposit their Market-truck. 1822 J. FLINT Lett. Amer. 264 Truck..Culinary vegetables. 1870 S. LANIER Nine fr. Eight 2, I was drivin' my two-mule waggin, With a lot of truck for sale. 1885 Blackw. Mag. Sept. 330/1 He is laying out the back land in truck or early vegetables. 1902 Ibid. Apr. 498/1 'Truck' means briefly such things as can be grown for the Northern markets--cucumbers, cabbages, sweet potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, &c. ..."

: : I take "culinary vegetables" to be those which are normally prepared for eating in a kitchen. I'm a little uncertain as to whether inedible vegetation is to be regarded as non-culinary vegetables, or just what vegetables are to be considered non-culinary. The truck produced on the farms on which I worked included a large proportion of onions and lettuce. I also worked in orchards, of which the product was locally known as "fruit," rather than "truck." A source of confusion was the fact that all the truck farmers (and orchardists) transported their produce by truck.

: : I have never heard the term "truck garden" used to mean "kitchen garden." The latter, where I lived and worked in N.Y.S., referred to a patch of land right by the house used to supply vegetables (and sometimes fruit) for cooking at home by the lady of the house, and not for sale at market.
: : SS

: Nonculinary vegetables might be turnips or field corn, grown to feed livestock. Then there's the corn that goes into ethanol, corn syrup, and whatever else they make from corn these days. Another possibility is medicinal vegetables, grown for herbal remedies. ~rb

The article on "Vegetable farming" in the Encycloedia Britannica Online, by Warid A. Warid, says that the botanical distinction between fruits and vegetables is of no consequence for agriculture. Tomatoes and cucumbers, which are technically fruit, are treated in agriculture and the marketplace as vegetables. Likewise, the author treats corn (or maize or Indian corn) as a vegetable, although it is botanically a cereal grain. This is somewhat more controversial, as grain farmers, and probably farmers generally, tend to regard corn as a grain. British farmers have traditionally used the word "corn" to denominate cereal grains generally. When the cow's in the corn, it doesn't mean she's in the maize. At least it didn't use to.

The author also distinguishes market gardens from truck farms. In the former are raised a variety of vegetables destined for the local market. The truck farm specializes in fewer varieties of vegetable raised in greater quantities for distant markets. I suspect that Mr. Warid is making that distinction in the belief that the "truck" in truck farm refers to the vehicle used to transport the produce. I imagine most truck farmers believe the same thing. The OED does not seem to concur. This is one of those "vexed questions." It may be significant, too, that in American use a garden is definitely smaller than a farm (unless it's an ant farm or worm farm).