Towards deep agroecology (The Ecologist)

May 4, 2020

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.


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.


Dig in to 2020 – Seriously

December 26, 2019

You can purchase Deep Agroecology now at amazon.com


“Hard-hitting. Powerful. A step further.” – A review of Deep Agroecology

November 21, 2019

Midwest Book Review has published a review of my new book, Deep Agroecology:  Farms, Food, and Our Future. Here are some snippets, and a link to the full review written by senior reviewer Diane C. Donovan.

“…deep agroecology is more than the promotion of another growing system. It represents a fundamental change in the perceptions of humans about the choices they make in planting, harvesting, and eating food, incorporating an ecological perspective that has its foundations in the long history of agrarian idealism…

“Deep Agroecology goes beyond farming systems to probe the philosophical, spiritual, and moral roots of human relationships with the land.

“The result is a hard-hitting, powerful survey that takes the food system ideal a step further by interrelating it to pursuits of justice, freedom, and health for the entire planet…”

The complete review is here.

agroecology deep

 

 


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.


Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future

October 1, 2019

After many long seasons of work, I’m pleased to announce that my new book Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future is published. It’s available in both print and ebook formats.

In the context of our national and global circumstances, I regard Deep Agroecology as my most essential work, even more critical than Farms of Tomorrow, Profiles in Wisdom, or The Call of the Land.

My goal for Deep Agroecology is first to explain the urgent context and concepts of agroecology. Agroecology is our main chance to pass successfully through this time of upheaval and transition, to care rightly for the earth which feeds us, and to take our next step forward on a healthy evolutionary path.

In writing I’ve also sought to anchor and to expand the concept of agroecology by reaching deep into our native roots in the Americas, including an exploration of the subtle dimensions of our human relationship with the natural world.

I’m a journalist who has over 40 years experience writing for students and for the general public. Inspired by a professor’s provocative question, I explored agroecology for seven years before writing Deep Agroecology.


Here’s a sample of some of the early comments and reviews of Deep Agroecology. You can find more at my dedicated blog for the book.


“Thank you, Steven McFadden, for rich and moving clarity, as you weave for us the many threads of ‘deep agroecology.’ The vision you capture is not a choice, for in this dire moment for our Earth, it is life’s only possibility forward.” ~ Frances Moore Lappé, author Diet for a Small Planet, and cofounder of Food First and the Small Planet Institute

“…deep agroecology” is more than the promotion of another growing system. It represents a fundamental change…The result is a hard-hitting, powerful survey that takes the food system ideal a step further by interrelating it to pursuits of justice, freedom, and health for the entire planet…” ~ Midwest Book Reviews (11/2019)

“… The future of humanity depends on our heeding the wisdom of deep agroecology.” – John Ikerd, agricultural economist and author of Crisis and Opportunity: Sustainability in American Agriculture.

With respect, Steven


Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future ~ now available for pre-orders

April 22, 2019

As of today – Earth Day 2019 – my new book Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future is available.

According with the spirit of Earth Day, we are publishing Deep Agroecology in service to the perennial ideals of healthy, and fulfilled lives for one and all on our home planet, Earth.

A quarter of a century ago, I had the privilege of serving as National Coordinator for Earth Day USA. I partnered with the Seventh Generation Fund to help bring the Council Circles project to hundreds of North American communities. This year I’m happy to mark the day with  announcement of a book that once again brings a council circle of wise voices together to offer native and agrarian wisdom ways forward for human beings and for our earth.

The way we tend the land that produces our food, and the way we eat, are the key factors in our physical, moral, and spiritual survival and development in this tumultuous era.

Elizabeth Wolf, my wife and partner, has played an indispensable role in bringing this book to life in a powerful and elegant way. I’ve dedicated the work to her, with love and appreciation.

DEEP AGROECOLOGY
The ways we farm and the ways we eat

Will determine the destiny of life on earth.

Agroecology is an ecological approach to growing food and fiber that views farms and orchards as ecosystems. Internationally, agroecology is increasingly recognized as an approach capable of meeting productivity goals while replenishing the soil, sequestering climate destabilizing CO2, and striving toward justice for all the human beings and animals in the food system, from planters to eaters.

Deep agroecology arises from recognition that the way we farm will determine the destiny of life on the earth. As a philosophy and as an approach, deep agroecology weaves the spiritual realities of planet earth into direct and balanced relationship with the physical realities. Deep agroecology is a natural, logical and necessary next evolutionary step, graced with an array of wholesome, leading-edge principles and practices.

 


Revolution is Afoot for Organic Farms and Food

March 17, 2019

“The beginning of wisdom
is to call things by their right names.”
– Confucius

Thanks to the convenience of the Internet, I got to watch Dave Chapman’s riveting 37-minute talk on organic farms and food. He spoke on the topic with restrained passion earlier this month at a symposium held at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. A few days later sitting at my computer in New Mexico, I heard his message loud and clear. It matched what I know from my own observations, and he added depth of understanding: there is revolution afoot in the realm of organic farms and food.

The foods being labeled and sold as organic in America are under enormous pressure in the marketplace. Chapman, associate director of The Real Organic Project (ROP), said that people have discovered that there can be a lot of money in organics. By now it’s a $50 billion industry. “We are cursed by our own success,” Chapman commented. “The money is like blood in the water.”

The rest of my blog post is freely available at Mother Earth News


Coming soon: Deep Agroecology

February 25, 2019

We will be publishing my new book over the course of Summer 2019. To learn more, follow this link to my Chiron Communications website.

TreeMan.deepAg


Double stab by The Lancet pierces illusions about Farms, Food, Climate

January 30, 2019

The esteemed British medical journal The Lancet has released two commission reports emphasizing the pivotal role that farms and food play in deteriorating human and environmental health, as well as in the mounting chaos of climate change.

So dire is our current state, the reports argue, that our ongoing survival and welfare as we live on earth requires a radical transformation of the farm and food systems. It will take mass public interest, activity, and direct support to make that happen.

The commissions warned explicitly that this essential transformation will require that consumers demand and pay for food that is raised and distributed in new ways. What you choose to eat, and the way your food is grown, have a direct impact on personal and global health. Our individual choices collectively create the rapidly deteriorating condition of our public health and the earth environment that sustains us. Those are not opinions or illusions, but rather scientific realities which are once again substantiated in these two commission studies.

The two Lancet commission reports were published separately in January, 2019. The first report, Food in the Anthropocene, was authored by 37 scientists from around the world, the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems. The second report was titled The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition and Climate Change: The Lancet Commission Report. That commission report was researched and written by 26 experts from 14 countries.

According to The Global Syndemic report, human beings are actively under threat from three global pandemics, all of them directly linked to the way we eat. Through their operations ‘Big Ag & Food’ corporations are driving global epidemics in obesity, undernutrition, and climate change. All of them threaten human beings. But their interactions create a hazardous impact greater than the sum of one, or two, or more afflictions. In combination, the three pandemics establish a global syndemic. That’s a set of linked health problems involving two or more afflictions that interact synergistically to drive conditions into a danger zone.

The researchers noted that ‘Big Food’ companies, driven by profit and heedless economic expansion, are through their actions inciting this syndemic. Industrial farm operations drive greenhouse gas omissions; meanwhile, paradoxically, people around the world are stricken by undernutrition, obesity, and a host of other diet and environment-related diseases.

The syndemic commission found that pandemics of malnutrition and obesity interact with climate change in a feedback loop. Together they represent an existential threat to humans and the planet. The modern western diet, they wrote, has become highly damaging, and needs a complete overhaul if we are to avoid ecological catastrophe. We need to cut global meat consumption in half, and more than double the volume of whole grains, pulses, nuts, fruit and vegetables we eat, according to the commission.

In conclusion, the syndemic commission report noted that the evidence that our diets are the largest cause of climate change and biodiversity loss is now overwhelming.

Strongest Lever
Meanwhile, also in the month of January, 2019, the 37 scientists of the separate EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems in 2019 authored their landmark publication, Food in the Anthropocene. These scientists concluded that food is the single strongest lever to improve human health and environmental sustainability.

Food systems have potential to dramatically increase environmental sustainability, they wrote, and to nurture and to improve human health. Our current food systems, however, are fouling ecosystems, and accentuating climate change. Overall the food system is the single largest driver of environmental degradation.

Further, as the commission reported, unhealthy diets now pose a greater risk to morbidity and mortality than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug, and tobacco use combined. Thus, an immense challenge facing humanity is to provide a growing world population with healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The Food in the Antropocene commission called for a radical transformation of the global food system. Individual action won’t be enough. We need to act as individuals, and then also actively cooperate on community, national, and global approaches and systems.

deep agroecology, #deepagroecology, deep agroecology, #deepagroecology,


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