Deep Agroecology 2020: Wise, Noble, Gallant

December 28, 2019

“Agroecology is the future of farming, and its principles cannot be practiced soon enough. Agroecology is a major global force or movement that’s going to be gaining recognition and increasing credibility.”  —John Ikerd, agricultural economist

As I came to appreciate while learning about agroecology, the subject has depth, breadth, and sophistication. Agroecology offers a penetrating critique of the status quo for farms and food, and also a far-reaching, environmentally enlightened, justice-based vision of better ways to care for land, plants, animals, and people.

Rather than a mechanistic formula for domination of nature to produce profits for a small group of investors, the core ideas of agroecology arise naturally from living, rhythmic, biological appreciation of the world and the life that inhabits the world. Consequently, the global movement toward agroecology has the capacity to recognize and to employ systems that bring human needs into right relation with the needs of the natural world.

As University of Nebraska–Lincoln Professor Charles A Francis noted in Agroecology: The Ecology of Food Systems, food systems are vast and fragile. They exist in the multiple and interacting matrices of our increasingly complex national and global cultures.

Agroecology recognizes farms as ecosystems embedded in broader landscapes and social settings, with which they interact continually and significantly.

By way of introduction, Francis writes: “We define agroecology as the integrative study of the ecology of the entire food system, encompassing ecological, economic, and social dimensions.”

In consilience (or convergence) these many disciplines yield vantage points for studying the food system, for developing a broader set of criteria for evaluation beyond monetary profitability, and for transforming the farm and food system in a manifestly healthy way.

Agroecology is an umbrella concept that has been refined in recent decades, developed, and made ready for wide global implementation. Now is the time. Agroecology embraces organics, biodynamics, permaculture, urban ag, and a host of other sustainable, forward-looking initiatives grounded in justice for people, animals, and the land from which we all draw our sustenance.

Image by M Ameen from Pixabay

This is new territory for many, but it’s natural territory. Farmers cannot enter this territory successfully alone, though. They must be accompanied in various purposeful ways by the communities and households who receive their bounty and who take it into their bodies.

My intention in writing a new book on the topic — Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future — is to explain to a general audience and to students what agroecology already is, and to embed the concepts and practices more purposefully in the public mind. At the same time I saw an opportunity in writing to reach deep into our native roots in the Americas, as well as to add emphasis to subtle dimensions of agroecology, realms of critical mystery.

Another motivation for writing Deep Agroecology was to again make available, as many communicators have done through the millennia, a reminder that inspiriting yourself and then caring actively for the Earth, the sustenance we derive from it, and the communities we are part of, is a high, noble, and heroic calling. It’s especially gallant at this juncture of time and circumstance.


What’s your moral obligation in response to our climate emergency?

November 14, 2019

Image courtesy of Extinction Rebellion

According to the Alliance of World Scientists, as professionals they have a moral obligation to warn humanity about what they see evidenced. On November 5, 2019, over 11,000 of the group’s allied scientists warned us all again, this time via a formal statement in the journal BioScience: “Planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.”

Now that the scientists have once again fulfilled their obligation to warn of danger, it’s time for each of us to meet our moral obligation. What might that be? From my perspective, each of us has a responsibility to carefully consider the scientists’ warnings, and then to respond with wise action…


Agroecology is a dynamic response to climate change

November 4, 2019

Agroecology is a dynamic concept that has gained global prominence in scientific, agricultural, and political discourse. But not so much so far in the USA. More widespread knowledge is essential. Time to make that happen.

My new book — Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future — offers an introduction to the subject of agroecology, and then takes this critical subject wider and deeper.


Go agroecological or go extinct

October 22, 2019

… Based on the multitude of hard realities engendered by corporate chemical agriculture, it’s time to uproot the “get big or get out” farm slogans of Earl Butz and Sonny Perdue, and to supplant those damning words with something both wise and realistic: “Go agroecological or go extinct” …

The rest of my latest blog post is now live on Mother Earth News.


Let us now praise common sense: Agroecology

September 3, 2019

 

The precautionary principle is a simple, common-sense ethical guideline that is a core part of ecology and agroecology. It’s so fundamental to sustainability, and so uncommon in our government today, that it’s worth reaffirming.

The precautionary principle holds that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment that sustains our life, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those promoting the product or the action…

…We’d be wise to bypass government failure to act, and do the uncommon thing, as the late humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935) put it: act with common sense. Act personally, swiftly, and strategically. There are a 1,001 things individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities can do. Get your search engine going, and then act. The vast archives of Mother Earth News, and the Pathways resource page open up some of the possibilities…

The rest of my blog post is now available on Mother Earth News.

 

 

 

 


Walk Agroecological Paths Toward Food Security

August 15, 2019

 

Yet another massive UN report has been researched, written, and cast into the ceaselessly churning ocean of Internet information. There the report may well sink into oblivion, as so often happens with critical news…

…But these well-researched collections of facts and expert insight scream to be recognized, remembered, and acted upon. “Wake up,” the world’s scientists are saying. Arise and take action now for food security…

…Climate change will continue to generate more and more intense floods, drought, storms, and other types of extreme weather. Going to the heart of the matter, The New York Times headlined its story on the report Climate Change Threatens World’s Food Supply...

…There are hundreds of ways to respond wisely to this hard news…

The complete text of my blog post appears on the pages of Mother Earth News.


Sleepwalking into Catastrophe, or Awakening via Agroecology

July 10, 2019

In early July, just as the United Nations (UN) was releasing stun-level, scientific reports about climate changes, food disruptions, and accelerated extinctions, meteorologists reported that the preceding month, June 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. They also reported that for the first time ever in recorded history temperatures in Anchorage, Alaska soared into the 90s, while rising up to 115 degrees F in Paris, France.

As baldly stated in one of the UN reports from the Human Rights Office, if we maintain our economic and agricultural course we are headed for deeper disaster. Going forward on a status quo pathway will have a mighty impact not just on some remote places featured on TV news, but on our backyards, pantries, refrigerators, supermarkets, and our overall way of life. We are, as the report put it, “sleepwalking into catastrophe.”

Note well these parts of the report: Climate change also threatens basic human rights, and democracy itself. Within the next 10 years or so, the report states, climate change will cast tens of millions more human beings into poverty, hunger, and displacement from their homelands…

Agroecology: A Righteous Response

Although mass media paid minimal attention, on July 5, 2019 The UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS) released a notable report, Agroecological and other innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition.

The CFS report offers detail on the global food system, which they regard as perched precariously at a crossroads. The report concludes that the food system needs a profound transformation at all levels, including the local level. We face complex, “multidimensional challenges…

…In a paper published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community, Professor William E. Rees writes: “Based on current trends, the most food-secure populations by the second half of the 21st century will be those populations that have deliberately chosen and planned to re-localize as much of their own food systems as possible.”

My complete blog post is on Mother Earth News…


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