In recent years, the voice and visibility of movements opposing land grabs and displacement, and demanding land reform, are increasing. Though relatively little land has been redistributed, organized movements of small farmers, indigenous peoples, and landless people are developing in size, strength, and organization. They are uniting across borders to break the nexus between land, agriculture, power, and profit.
Have yields of major grains, such as rice, corn, and wheat, started to plateau after decades of growth? Lester Brown explores this phenomenon in Chapter 7 from his recent book Full Planet, Empty Plates.
For the developed world, water is a seemingly ubiquitous resource. Many Americans often take it for granted. Submerged in a culture of excess, it’s often difficult to keep one’s head above the waste. Water conservation is a murky subject for the average consumer. We’re often more likely to recycle than forgo filling our swimming pool. Thus, the history and future of conservation is worth examining.
Aquifer depletion now threatens harvests in China, India, and the United States. These big three grain producers together supply half of the world’s grain harvest. The question is not whether water shortages will affect future harvests in these countries, but rather when they will do so.
Native peoples’ efforts to protect their crop varieties and agricultural heritage in the US go back 500 years to when the Spanish conquistadors arrived. Today, Native communities throughout the US are reclaiming and reviving land, water, seeds, and traditional food and farming practices, thereby putting the culture back in agriculture and agriculture back in local hands.
Before your grab your pitchfork and head down to the rally, I’d like to offer you another perspective, an alternative ending to this story. Solutions will not be found by changing institutions. It has to start with taking direct responsibility for the stewardship of the soil and producing our own food in whatever capacity that we are able.
For most tomato pickers in the US, a bucket brings in 50 cents, a piece rate that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 30 years. Because the rate is set so low, a worker has to pick more than two and a quarter tons of tomatoes per day – the weight of a young elephant – to make the minimum wage. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is transforming all of this.
Can solar power help eradicate extreme poverty in the developing world? Many social entrepreneurs think so, and are investing their time and money in a variety of technologies. Here are a few more seeking funding…
For decades, farmworkers – the more than one million men and women who work in fields and orchards around the country – have been leading a struggle for justice in our food system. They have been building awareness and mobilizing the public, successfully securing some rights, higher wages, and better working conditions.
At its best, No Happy Cows offers a primer on some of the most pressing aspects of human, social, and planetary health, and in doing so makes a case for how intimately connected these separate spheres are—that they are, in fact, not separate at all. The health of one depends on, and in turn supports, the health of them all.
From the school cafeteria to rural tomato farms, and all the way to pickets at the White House, people are challenging the ways in which government programs benefit big agribusiness to the detriment of small- and mid-sized farmers.
The need for American citizens to become the policy-makers to create a just and sustainable food supply chain is urgent, because in the hands of the US government it has become increasingly unjust and unsustainable.
Heather Retberg stood on the steps of the Blue Hill, Maine town hall surrounded by 200 people. “We are farmers,” she told the crowd, “who are supported by our friends and our neighbors who know us and trust us, and want to ensure that they maintain access to their chosen food supply.”