Friday, January 29, 2010

Rules of Engagement

Via Bitten, I found this thoughtful article about the debate between coventional and local/organic food. Maintaining that reductive, dualistic arguments don't fully address the complexity of the issues, Parsons outlines fundamental principles for both sides to consider, in order to move from debate to discussion.

The first principle has a particular relevance to discussions of urban agriculture. Too often, the possibilities for urban farming in the U.S. are reduced to schoolyard, community and non-profit gardens. While such programs are crucial facets of what might be termed food democracy, their focus is generally on re-establishing a lost sense of our place in the food web and empowering people to understand that they can grow food for themselves. Such programs educate, create jobs for underserved youth and bring beauty to the city. They do not, however, consider productivity, yields and profit.

In order to create an alternative agriculture, the very real question of how to feed all of us must be addressed. To move forward, conversations about sub/urban farming will have to include a long view of real productivity, and the typologies of urban agriculture widened to include for-profit operations.