Agroecology from A to Z

Adventures in Agroecology and Food Systems

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We had a great discussion on Tuesday in my Security, Equality and Ecology of Global Food Production class. We had just read a Raj Patel article in the Journal of Peasant Studies and were talking about what the world would look like if the ultimate goals of the food sovereignty movement were eventually realized.

Would there be international trade at all? Can countries even survive without international trade? What about places like Arizona where it actually makes more sense distance-wise to trade in agricultural crops with Mexico than with Minnesota? If ancient peoples traded long distances for important resources they didn’t have access to otherwise, is a goal of total regional self-sufficiency realistic or even desirable?

Luckily my friend and colleague M. Jahi Chappell just happened to write something directly in this vein today. Now I know what I will be assigning for reading tonight! I’m looking forward to seeing these publications when they are out.

Patel, R. (2009) Food sovereignty. Journal of Peasant Studies 36(3) 663-706.

Beginning to End Hunger

Parke Troutman tells us that “Carrots are not enough” in a compelling piece challenging the framing and potential of local food, and urging a nuanced but still forward-looking and positive vision of the movement.

Humans have never eaten “all locally”, he points out, which is quite certainly correct. Indeed, in a book chapter to be published next year, I call one of the goals of Brazil’s Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (o MST) a “brazen and historically accurate” revival of the concept of subsistence:

“A subsistence parallel to the more complex forms outlined throughout this volume. Subsistence, it appears, has rarely meant production only for local provision or survival, at least in their pre- and early-penetration of imperial and global capital manifestations.  So we might replace [the MST’s stated goal of supporting] “small farm production above subsistence levels” to the tongue-in-cheek “brazen and historically accurate subsistence”… production for…

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