Going Dutch

Open-Air Museum NL

On a day I was traveling through the Netherlands by train, I saw thousands of farmers blocking a major road into The Hague with their tractors. Later I learned their caravan was sixty miles long. Many of the farmers waved red, white, and blue Dutch flags, as they protested a government livestock policy.

A sign read No Farmers, No Food.

The Netherlands exports more food than any other country in the world except the United States, making Dutch farmers a powerful lobby.

Land managment in the Netherlands is historically esteemed. Approximately one-fourth of the country lies below sea level. Thus, the name: nether means low-lying.

To improve their lot, the enterprising Dutch engineered complicated drainage systems, involving dikes, canals, and pumps driven by windmills. They claimed their country by reclaiming it from the sea.

Remarkably, the Netherlands, with all of its farmland, is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Its seventeen million citizens live in an area the size of Maryland.

I spent most of my time in Holland, which is a region within the Netherlands. (Holland and the Netherlands are not two names for the same country.)

The Netherlands regularly ranks high in per-capita income, quality of life, and happiness. Proud locals boast, “If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much.”

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