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, August 6, 2009

Realism and Romanticism in Local Agriculture

The day we have all been waiting for: a guest posting! Venus Bivar, a good friend who I met at an environmental history conference, is working long hours at a community farm near Chicago this summer. She is a proud Canadian, hence the ridiculous spelling; Americans know that there is no “our” in labor. Here it is:

When I tell people that I'm volunteering at a farm this summer in order to supplement my PhD research, they understand completely. Many even compliment what they see as my dedication to the field of study - stretching my research into the realm of practical knowledge. When I tell them, however, that I'd like to give up life in Chicago in order to devote more time to farming, they assume that I am hopelessly naive about what farm labour entails and about what life in the country is "really like." They call me a romantic. Let's forget for a minute that I actually grew up in the middle of nowhere and that after a summer of volunteering as grunt labour, I do have a sense of what is demanded of both the mind and the body. Let’s forget all of that and start at zero.

I took a five year-old to the farm last week and she loved it. She ate peppers and green beans straight off the plant and when told that she could eat anything we were prepping for pick-up, her jaw dropped to the table, and she immediately shoved her face full of kohlrabi. For a kid who ordinarily veers away from the unknown when it comes to the vegetable kingdom, seeing her devour a whole host of items she had never even seen before made me realise that being involved in the labour process necessarily changes our attitude towards food and the work required to produce it. She was totally innocent of the romantic musings of adulthood. She simply ran through the fields, rode a tractor, learned how to identify a ripe cucumber, and took it all in with unadulterated joy. She made me realise that some people simply like to farm. They like the work - in the same way that some love to litigate or perform surgery. Why the former are charged with romanticism and the latter are not says more about how detached we have become from our food supply than it does about those doing the supplying.

2 comments:

Venus said...

In addition to knowing that 'labour' takes a 'u' and 'realise' requires an 's' and not a 'z' (and for the record, that's 'zed' and not 'zee'), I also know that 'romanticism' needs an 'n' between the 'a' and the 't' and that 'en' is not in fact an article in the English language. So take that America! Universal health care AND superior grammar.

Levi said...

Ha, nice one! But you must not have known that I can edit the posts, so now your comment makes no sense...