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