Headed for a Breakdown in our Food System ?

empty.shelvesAs fireworks creased the sky on July 4, writer David Beers posted his interview with Michael Pollan on Alternet, an interview that serves as a digital omen of things to come. Pollan, the best-selling author of In Defense of Food and other works, spoke in the interview about an open secret – that is, a secret open to anyone paying attention to our land, our economy, and our food.

Commenting within the context of scarcer oil, degrading ecologies, wobbling economies and global warming, Pollan observed: “When we say the food system is unsustainable we mean that there is something about it, an internal contradiction, that means it can’t go on the way it is without it breaking up. And I firmly believe there will be a breakdown…”

“…One of the reasons we need to nurture several different ways of feeding ourselves — local, organic, pasture-based meats, and so on – is that we don’t know what we’re going to need and we don’t know what is going to work.

“To the extent that we diversify the food economy, we will be that much more resilient. Because there will be shocks. We know that…We’re going to need alternatives around.”

Thousands of people – I think of them as the Millennial Agrarians  — already recognize this looming potential for our food system to break down, and they are taking creative action on the land to cultivate alternatives.

Will Allen

Will Allen

Among these agrarians, Will Allen of Growing Power farm and land trust in Milwaukee has emerged as leader in urban farming. He has been acknowledged and supported by the Ford Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, and by a Fellowship Grant (Genius Grant) from The MacArthur Foundation.

On July 1, in a reflection of the deepening public interest in agrarian matters, Allen was profiled in the Sunday Magazine of The New York Times.

The Times correspondent wrote: “Propelled by alarming rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, by food-safety scares and rising awareness of industrial agriculture’s environmental footprint, the food movement seems finally to have met its moment. First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack have planted organic vegetable gardens. Roof gardens are sprouting nationwide. Community gardens have waiting lists. Seed houses and canning suppliers are oversold.”

Will Allen is one of the people helping to lead not a mere ‘food movement,’ but something much larger: an agrarian reformation. the way. He is in the company of thousands of other Millennial Agrarians, a class of citizens on the rise.

The many people and organizations cited in The Call of the Land offer more than philosophical ideals. They are demonstrating an array of proven models, paths, and networks that embrace an evolving agrarian ethos and that can be emulated widely now.

Many of those who hear and heed Michael Pollan’s message, and the facts his warning is based upon, are choosing to take a stand with the emerging agrarians of the 21st Century.

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