The Scoop

Landship Foods is inspired by the conviction that growing and eating healthy food is one of the most important things we can do for both ourselves and the broader communities of which we are a part. The name comes from the language of pre-industrial Europe. Before the enclosure movement and the associated rise in notions of private property swept England, the suffix “-ship” (as in "relationship," or "friendship") referred to an object or an abstraction with collective duties and mutual rights. Thus, the term “landship” suggests that land was an entity through which humans were joined to each other by a set of rights and responsibilities. I advocate for a revival of this awareness.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Maize: Commodity, Vegetable, and More

Corn has been at the center of much of the recent debates in global food politics. Some argue that corn alone will feed our growing populations, while others argue that its largest impact will be in the "credit" column of corporate bank ledgers. Obviously, corn does neither of these two on its own, but only in conjunction with the actions of humans and, at another level, a host of environmental factors, like bacteria, wind, sun, and worms. Corn does, however, contribute some remarkable qualities: vigor, adaptability, genetic malleability, and culinary flexibility. To this list of ethically-neutral characteristics, I submit an undeniably positive one: at this point in the season it allows for a shady, late-morning siesta. Viva la maize!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Desert Festivals

I read somewhere recently that we are mistaken to think of rain strictly in a utilitarian or functional sense; it is also a festival. This applies to life in general, really: we should try to balance our more goal-oriented thinking with a general appreciation for experiences. Even though the delirium-inducing heat of the Southwest summer has set in for good, it has been easy to recognize the festivals recently. The crops are generally responding with vigor to the sun; we have finished off most of the early, leafy greens. Last week we roasted a whole hog from a local pig farmer (one of the best food festivals I can imagine). In preparation for the pickin', I wore out a chain on the Stihl and went to the only place in Thoreau that sells chainsaw equipment, Johnnie's Inn. You may think this sounds like a strange name for a Stihl dealership, and it would be if Johnnie wasn't a multi-tasker, but he also sells liquor. An interesting combination of merchandise, for sure. I have been busy pruning and trellising the flowering tomatoes; and today we butchered a "small" elk that was injured in its confrontation with a speeding vehicle. It is strange to call a 500 lb. animal anything other than "monstrous," but it was a young bull that would have more than doubled in size. We will have a jerky festival soon...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, Nation...! Stephen Colbert would say. It is interesting commemorating the birth of one nation (the US), while in the midst of another (the Navajo nation). On the 4th of July, we went to the rodeo in Grants, NM and then lounged underneath the fireworks launched by the Bluewater volunteer fire department. There seemed to be little open concern with the complex and tragic history that the creation of these nations shares. Perhaps holidays serve to bring out a general mood of celebration. But it is also likely that many of the Navajo, like many other Native Americans that I have known, prefer to live in the present. Like people everywhere, they dislike many of the labels outsiders assign them. A Jemez Indian that I know once told me (without my prodding) that he hated the term "indigenous". He identified as Jemez, New Mexican, American, or, most often, just Mike. Perhaps this reflects the fact that Native Americans have too long been treated as subjects to be isolated, studied, or mythologized. Even at our most well-intentioned, many non-Indians do this. Using over-simplified ideas of Native American ethics and practices as a way to critique the problems of our modern society is perhaps the most common (for more on this see Shep Krech, The Ecological Indian: Myth and History). These narrow and generic understandings of "authentic" and "traditional" Indian societies, even if meant to glorify, deny Indians the right, not only to speak for themselves, but also to just be themselves.
Instead of lamenting the loss of some mythical, "traditional" past, perhaps this Independence Day will challenge us to employ the lessons of history to strive for a better future. Who knows, maybe the rodeo cowboys will read this and be inspired to recycle their celebratory Busch Light and compost their steed's excrement.