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.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Notes from the Desert

I had four alarms set to go off yesterday morning. The first at four AM and one every five minutes thereafter. I actually woke up without them at 3:58, jumped into my truck and headed to the Atlanta airport. By 9:30 mountain time I was in Albuquerque, ready to start my summer farm gig – well, after a few more hours of sleep I was ready. Flying is usually an exhausting experience for me, but the perspective one can achieve from a window seat thousands of feet above the earth is unparalleled. Truly astonishing feats of engineering, the center pivot irrigation commonly used for commodity crops in the American West and other arid regions also seem quite alien from this remove.

It was 88 degrees and there were a few afternoon showers as I shopped for supplies in Albuquerque. Several of the locals that I spoke to commented on how humid it had gotten recently. I would have offered a good-natured, albeit slightly prideful, laugh at their low tolerance for humidity but my lips were already cracked and my throat singed close from what was for me the driest weather since I left the desert nine months ago. I'm definitely not in Georgia anymore, which this time of year is settling into a predictable pattern of warm, humid, and oppressively breezeless days followed by only slightly cooler and less humid nights. I was greeted by a sunset sandstorm yesterday in Albuquerque and as I drove out of the Rio Grande Valley up two thousand feet in elevation to the continental divide, I was blasted by a brief hail storm and 40 mph gusts of wind. The low tonight here at basecamp is supposed to approach freezing. I'm looking forward to my second spring of the year; a whole 'nother round of sprouting greens!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Buy, Buy, Blah...

At the risk of turning Landship into a broken record, I feel compelled to revisit the issue of consumption as it relates to local and sustainable agriculture.
I recently picked up the Spring 2010 iteration of "The Dirt," the newsletter of Georgia Organics, which brandishes as if a bullhorn the headline: "Buy Local, Buy Sustainable, Buy Often". The article praised growers for developing innovative ways to tweak the CSA model to meet "consumer demand". "Kroger and Publix better watch out," warned GA Organics director Alice Rolls, apparently without any awareness of the irony that this trend indicates: CSAs and local agriculture in general are being forced by "consumer demand" to follow the models which they initially sought to overturn.
I am obviously a supporter of efforts to develop local and sustainable agriculture, but this headline - "Buy, Buy, Buy" - is indicative of the ways in which we tend to valorize consumption in a movement that is ostensibly aware of the dangers of consumptive lifestyles. Again, I don't mean to say that we should not buy anything, not support local farmers, or grow all of our food ourselves; I just want to suggest that consumption can never be the main platform for a meaningful solution to our food and agriculture woes. It seems too many people are content to support local agriculture largely through minimal and comfortable lifestyle changes, like shopping at a farmer's market instead of Kroger.
I just don't want local food to go the same route as that great green panacea, recycling, which encourages everyone to "buy often" and not think about it afterwards.

This photo was taken at a slow food event and, to me, the Hummer t-shirt suggests the continuity between "mainstream" lifestyles and "alternative" local ones: the engines of both are consumer demand, branding, and identity construction rooted in consumption