Sunday, February 3, 2013

Good Food Revolution

I can't seem to read enough farming memoirs these days. The latest is The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen. I was fascinated by all of this book: the personal story of how Allen grew up working in his parents' vegetable garden and despite his intentions ended up farming, the more politicized story of African-American sharecroppers and their subsequent migration to urban areas, and the story of how he grew his urban farm to provide fresh, nutritious food to people living in a food desert and all the different connections he's made, and the personal stories of some of the individuals who helped him. 

I seriously can't decide what my favourite part of the book was. I think it may be the discussion of race in America's agricultural history, which I haven't read much about. These passages also really spoke to me:

"When you work in agriculture and with young people, it makes you think quite a bit about the future. You have to imagine the world you want to create before there is any evidence you can bring it into being."

"When I think of this hopeful future, I see a world that has regained a proper balance between manual and intellectual work. For decades, we have taught our young people to pursue jobs that use the mind but not the body. We have segregated our exercise to the sterile environment of the gym. We have made people spend entire years at work moving nothing but their steering wheel, their mouse, or a cursor. We no longer teach many manual trades in high schools. We encourage many of our best and our brightest young people to go into think tanks or into law.

"We were not made to sit in cubicles or stare at screens or papers all day. My most intimate and lasting learning experiences have come not through books or computers but through my patient interaction with the land. The work of creating a new food system will offer work that engages both the spirit and the body. It will allow people the satisfaction of seeing and tasting the results of their labor. It will require the cultivation of human relationships that are off the grid, as well as an attitude of respect toward the natural world. This movement -- this 'good food revolution,' as I like to call it -- will demand the best efforts of our hearts, bodies, and minds."

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