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.

Friday, February 19, 2010

C.C. Law and his Dung-Heap

I can but express the opinion that the touch of politics in agriculture brings with it contamination even to the dung-heap.
- C.C. Law, "Proceedings of the Interstate Convention of Farmers," 1887

With style that only a 19th century planter could muster, C.C. Law made the above argument against government regulation of the blossoming fertilizer industry. A South Carolina planter, Law was concerned regulation would lead to a dangerous alliance between fertilizer companies and government bureaucrats that would drown the interests of the farmer. His words attest to the depth of American skepticism towards government, an attitude that most today would likely admit to sharing at some level. I want to get beyond this position by pointing out that if Law and his fellow planters had worked towards an agriculture rooted in more local sources of fertility they would have been able to better mitigate bureaucratic interference.
The 1887 Interstate Convention of Farmers took place as many American agriculturalists, especially Southern planters like Law, were increasingly looking towards new commercial fertilizers like super-phosphates and guano to maintain maximum production for the global commodity markets. This move was a crucial step towards the contemporary dependence on large-scale importation of distant inputs. As is still the case with most global trade, transparency and trust were thrown out the window for ease and efficiency. It might be easier to get a bag of manure shipped to you than to scoop it oneself, but it is much harder to know and trust the content of the former. Lacking neighborly relations, the new agriculture that Law promoted unwittingly necessitated "the touch of politics" that he so feared.

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