Here’s a link to the full review of my book, Deep Agroecology.
by Steven McFadden
Thanks to an invitation from Ubiquity University, I had an opportunity to coalesce some thoughts about farms, food, and our future, and then to present them in a Zoom seminar this week,
Even without the soundtrack, the slides I used for the presentation tell the story with power and resonance. The slideshow, now freely available via Youtube, takes less than four minutes. I invite you to check it out.
Click here to watch the Deep Agroecology slide show on Youtube.
Colossal change is well underway locally and globally. If your eyes open then of course you recognize the forces and patterns of upheaval fully at work in uncountable ways. The paper cited below from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) sends this message resoundingly and with yet more data.
In response to the global reality we share, the challenge for all is to create and sustain life systems that not only survive the storm of changes, but also establish an array of models for stable, healthy, spiritually uplifted local and global cultures. Farms and food are the foundation of our relationship with Earth.
The ways we farm and the ways we eat will determine the destiny of life on Earth. That insight is what the pathways of agroecology recognize, and what they engage with manifold healthy environmental and social responses. My efforts through the book and the blog for Deep Agroecology are to help show these ways, and to suggest how they can be inspirited.
Abstract: “On top of a decade of exacerbated disaster loss, exceptional global heat, retreating ice and rising sea levels, humanity and our food security face a range of new and unprecedented hazards, such as megafires, extreme weather events, desert locust swarms of magnitudes previously unseen, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Agriculture underpins the livelihoods of over 2.5 billion people – most of them in low-income developing countries – and remains a key driver of development.
“At no other point in history has agriculture been faced with such an array of familiar and unfamiliar risks, interacting in a hyperconnected world and a precipitously changing landscape. And agriculture continues to absorb a disproportionate share of the damage and loss wrought by disasters. Their growing frequency and intensity, along with the systemic nature of risk, are upending people’s lives, devastating livelihoods, and jeopardizing our entire food system.
“This report makes a powerful case for investing in resilience and disaster risk reduction – especially data gathering and analysis for evidence informed action – to ensure agriculture’s crucial role in achieving the future we want.”
FAO. 2021. The impact of disasters and crises on agriculture and food security: 2021. Rome.
My wife Elizabeth and I are on our way out of Nebraska, work having summoned us once again to the southwest. In parting from this stalwart state, I want to share a vision.
The Lincoln Journal-Star, the paper of record for the state’s capital city, recently published an article about the intention of some local developers to establish an “iconic” building in Lincoln’s Haymarket district. That article prompted me to recall an iconic vision I had nearly a decade ago when I first moved to this Cornhusker State.
At that time my office window had a direct view of the Nebraska State Capitol, a 400-foot tall building graced at the top with an iconic image of The Sower—a universal and greathearted figure hard at work, purposefully sowing seeds across the land that we might have the food and fiber that sustains us all.
The Sower is an indisputably handsome and worthy icon for an agrarian state. I was always inspired looking out my window and up at his powerful figure. But then I began to think: Nebraska is The Cornhusker State, not The Cornsower State. Where was a statue depicting The Huskers: the people who husked, or harvested, the crops rising from the seeds?
With memory of that vision activated, I wrote a “comment”—basically a digital letter to the editor—and posted my comment at the end of the Journal Star story.
Here’s an updated version of my comment:
“Here’s my idea for an icon they can put on the roof of the proposed Haymarket building: a monumental statue of The Huskers. By that I mean a 20-25 foot high sculpture in the style of The Sower, using similar materials.
“Sculpt The Huskers as a man, woman, daughter, and son working their way (husking) through a field of sculptural corn 20′ or more high. Build the monument so that the four figures are universal human beings (as The Sower appears to be) bringing in the goodness of what The Sower has sown. Build the monument so that it’s facing The Sower, and is a pubic attraction with its own access and egress, so as not to disturb the businesses in the building.
“A monument like that would bring honest pride, dignity, and joy for all Nebraskans (and visitors) as they might walk among the sculptured people and their giant sculptural corn field. The two monuments (Sower and Huskers) would tell children and adults in a glance the story of the plains and the grains and the people. Such an epic sculpture of The Huskers would express the heart of the state, and thus would be ICONIC indeed.
“I’ve always felt that such a monument would be fitting for the north end of Lincoln’s Centennial Mall, but the Haymarket would also be fitting in many ways.
“The Cornhuskers” monument could complete what might be thought of as a sculptural yin and yang, bringing a visual and energetic dynamic into perpetual play. The moral lesson would be both implicit and explicit: you reap what you sow.”
A monument for The Huskers in combination with The Sower would distinguish Nebraska in a way the Gateway Arch marks St. Louis, the Statue of Liberty accents New York, and the Golden Gate Bridge signifies San Francisco.
by Steven McFadden
As yet another United Nations Code Red warning flashes around the world, I join with those who propose that ginawaydaganuc is an essential and realistic mind set, and who encourage general, wholehearted embrace of all that it denotes and connotes.
What in our vast, entangled cosmos is this thing called ginawaydaganuc? Suffice for the moment to say that it’s a word from one of the original languages of North America, Omàmiwininìmowin(Algonquin). That language has been extant on North America for many thousands of years – a vital vernacular.
This Algonquin word is easier to say than you might at first imagine. It’s pronounced with a soft ‘g’: gee-na-way-dag-a-nook. Try speaking the word aloud phonetically, and experience how the sound feels in your head, heart, and soul. Ginawaydaganuc denotes the fundamental reality that we are all related–with each other, with the natural world, with the cosmos.
There’s more to say. But before contemplating the ramifications of ginawaydaganuc, take a moment to breathe, and to absorb the full impact of one of the latest Code Red warnings. This one comes from the UN’s 2020 report, The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene.
Unprecedented Moment of Human History
“We are at an unprecedented moment in the history of humankind and in the history of our planet,” the report says. Under relentless pressure from climate chaos, species loss, inequality, natural destruction, and COVID-19, our planetary and social warning lights are “flashing red”…
My complete blog post is live now at Mother Earth News.
My video conversation with Brooke Medicine Eagle about The Call of the Land and the accompanying slide show, is freely available now. To learn more about deep agroecology and the possibilities for our food and farms, follow this link.
by Steven McFadden
Based on political talking points, many people kiss off the reality of climate change. They go on with their lives as if there is no threat to be concerned about at all.
But climate change (now more accurately spoken of as climate chaos) is severely real. with raging fires, roaring hurricanes, and parching drought, it’s impacting farms, food, and millions of lives. The population of environmental refugees is swelling around the globe. This is factual way beyond politics or propaganda.
A recent survey by Stanford University, however, found that when people are directly impacted by climate change, political divisions evaporate. The impacted people immediately begin to take the intensifying reality of climate change seriously. How could they do otherwise?
The USDA’s landmark report Climate Change, Global Food Security, and U.S. Food System concluded that climate change is going to impact global, regional, and local food security. It will drive an overall increase in food prices, and also disrupt food availability.
That’s a grim outlook. But the USDA report also states emphatically that adaptation can make a positive difference. That’s where households and communities of all sizes and constellations need to place their attention and their energy: effective adaptation. And that is one of the key reasons why I wrote Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future.
Climate chaos is here. It’s not coming at some future date. Embracing agroecological responses now, while it is possible, is wise, worthwhile, and essential.
Toward positive, proactive responses, I strongly recommend the new film Kiss the Ground. It’s available now on Netflix, and via DVD.
by Steven McFadden
Among the cascade of changes the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed is a wave of interest in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In a time of insecurity, people like knowing where their food comes from. It’s basic…
…With this wave of interest and energy pouring to into CSA and various food-box schemes, questions arise. Where will the energy go? Will new CSAs follow a business model as many people advocate? With the desperate poverty and hunger now afflicting the nation and the world, that emphasis could become more challenging than usual.
Or will CSAs continue to develop as a range of creative community models? Will CSAs draw in, employ, and maintain the support of local communities so the farm keeps going even as the world turns upside down? Many people are now beginning to recognize the imperative value CSA farms can have in an era of global sickness, economic calamity, and climate catastrophe…
< The full blog post is at Mother Earth News >
by Steven McFadden
The world’s leading environmental platform, The Ecologist, has published my essay, Towards deep agroecology. The essay gets the story across concisely in about 900 words. Here are the introductory paragraphs:
“Agroecology presents an inspirational and pragmatic vision of what is necessary and possible as we strive to re-organize our food chain in response to this pandemic, and to pollution, climate breakdown, and the intensifying hegemony of multinational chemical, drug, and industrial corporations.
“Agroecology is an expression of practical, purposeful, and realistic hope. It’s a global vision that has been dreamed and then acted upon by millions of people around the world. But many millions more human beings, billions more actually, are needed to take up and follow the vision now…”
The full essay in The Ecologist is here.
by Steven McFadden
People often talk about IQ, the Intelligence Quotient, and certainly that can be important. But what about your LFQ, your Local Food Quotient? With all the changes taking place in the world, especially in the critical farm and food scene, that can be important as well.
As I define it for this non-scientific quiz, your LFQ is an informal indicator of how aware you are of the bountiful benefits of buying and eating locally grown fresh food. It also yields a glimpse of how engaged you are in supporting local growers and fresh food for your own health, for your family’s health, and for the health of your community and your natural environment.
To calculate your LFQ, answer these yes or no questions. Give yourself three carrots for every yes answer, and one empty basket for every no answer. Then forget about the empty baskets. Add up your carrots, and see where you fit on the LFQ scoreboard.
- Have you ever grown any of your own food?
- Do you know what a food desert is?
- Do you have a neighbor you talk with who has a vegetable garden?
- Have you ever picked wild berries, or any other wild food?
- Have you ever enjoyed an outing to a u-pick berry farm?
- Have you ever eaten eggs laid by a hen that you have personally seen (or heard cluck)?
- Have you ever said hello to a local farmer and shaken his or her hand?
- Have you ever picked vegetables in a garden or field?
- Do you know where most of your food comes from?
- Does the supermarket you shop at stock any food from local growers or producers?
- Do you think they would if you asked them?
- Have you ever enjoyed a tomato from a grower in the county where you live?
- Have you ever enjoyed an apple pie made with apples grown in your county or state?
- Do you know about any local farmers growing food for the community where you live?
- Do you have a plan to grow more food, or purchase more local food, in 2020?
FIGURE IT OUT
Perfect score: 45 carrots
Your score: ?
0 carrots Missing Out
3 to 12 carrots Nibbler
12 to 24 carrots Muncher
24-36 carrots Provider
36-45 carrots Community Chow Champion
N.B. I originally created this quiz for, and in collaboration with, Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska. BFBLN decided to print a shorter, edited version in their 2020 annual guide, so I thought I’d roll this version out on my Deep Agroecology blog. – Steven McFadden