what an english sheep farmer has to say about rural america

posted March 10, 2017

Wood Farm Barn Rustic Weathered Old Barn Wood

“But for my entire life, my own country has apathetically accepted an American model of farming and food retailing, mostly through a belief that it was the way of progress and the natural course of economic development. As a result, America’s future is the default for us all.

It is a future in which farming and food have changed and are changing radically — in my view, for the worse. Thus I look at the future with a skeptical eye. We have all become such suckers for a bargain that we take the low prices of our foodstuffs for granted and are somehow unable to connect these bargain-basement prices to our children’s inability to find meaningful work at a decently paid job.”

James Rebanks in the New York Times op-eds last week explaining why the stakes are so high, but missing all the reasons to hope… (This is the part where we say, YOU, Greenhorns! From your draft-powered farms to your new resilient corporative models, there are a lot of new energy in rural America. And, thank you!)


save the rainforest: revisiting an old battle

posted March 4, 2017

rainforest

Photo Credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT for Center for International Forestry Research

Some bad news from a recent article in the New York Times:

A decade after the “Save the Rainforest” movement forced changes that dramatically slowed deforestation across the Amazon basin, activity is roaring back in some of the biggest expanses of forests in the world. That resurgence, driven by the world’s growing appetite for soy and other agricultural crops, is raising the specter of a backward slide in efforts to preserve biodiversity and fight climate change.

Large American-based food giants such as Cargill are fueling this destruction, as they look for increasingly remote areas, where regulation and protection laws are limited, to source their crops. There’s also some next level hypocrisy going on, as Cargill and other similar companies had signed deals in recent years promising to curb their role in deforestation.

You can read the entire article HERE (highly recommended!), but this is a reminder that no cause can be forgotten: stay vigilant! Also, give some thought to your soy consumption, in its many iterations:

A major culprit is the cultivation of soy, which has jumped more than 500 percent in Bolivia since 1991, to 3.8 million hectares in 2013, according to the most recent agricultural censuses. Little of that soy is consumed domestically. The vast majority is processed and exported as animal feed in a commodities trade that serves a global appetite for hamburgers, chicken and pork.


field peas, a southern good luck charm

posted January 4, 2016

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Kim Severson, Dec. 29, 2015, New York Times

SHORTER, Ala. — Eating a bowl of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is not the nation’s sexiest food ritual.

Peas are not as beloved as Thanksgiving turkey. They lack the easy appeal of Super Bowl guacamole or the religious significance of a Hanukkah latke.

But for a day, a broad swath of the nation stands united in its belief that black-eyed peas simmered with cured pork and served with soupy greens like collard or folded into rice for some hoppin’ John promise a year of luck and money.

Farmers here in Alabama’s fertile Black Belt know there is much more to field peas than luck — or the plebeian variety swimming in your New Year’s bowl. In the fields where George Washington Carver devoted his life to the agricultural education of children whose parents had been born slaves, the legume has been a linchpin of the South’s culinary history and could hold a key to its economic future. Read more HERE.