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.

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

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