A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil

Overview

“Astyk and Newton have written an important book with an unusual message: We need millions of new farmers…as soon as possible. You could not find two more reasonable, intelligent, sincere, and passionate people to talk to about food. And the book has very much the feeling of a conversation – with someone smart who cares about you. It is also intellectually complex, creative and nuanced. The authors are big thinkers and have taken a good lick at the central human issues of our time." Peter Bane

“This definitive guide can provide inspiration to

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A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil

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Overview

“Astyk and Newton have written an important book with an unusual message: We need millions of new farmers…as soon as possible. You could not find two more reasonable, intelligent, sincere, and passionate people to talk to about food. And the book has very much the feeling of a conversation – with someone smart who cares about you. It is also intellectually complex, creative and nuanced. The authors are big thinkers and have taken a good lick at the central human issues of our time." Peter Bane

“This definitive guide can provide inspiration to gardeners and those concerned about the environment. It offers practical solutions to all the food-related problems brought on by industrialized agriculture and the globalization of food. Very carefully researched and well written, this documents what is wrong and what we can do about it.” Connie Krochmal - Bellaonline

"This outstanding and well-written compendium of insights and recommendations, of fervent idealism and practical solutions, is highly recommended."—Library Journal

Once we could fill our grocery carts with cheap and plentiful food, but not anymore. Cheap food has gone the way of cheap oil. Climate change is already reducing crop yields worldwide. The cost of flying in food from far away and shipping it across the country in refrigerated trucks is rapidly becoming unviable. Cars and cows increasingly devour grain harvests, sending prices skyrocketing. More Americans than ever before require food stamps and food pantries just to get by, and a worldwide food crisis is unfolding, overseas and in our kitchens.

We can keep hunger from stalking our families, but doing so will require a fundamental shift in our approach to field and table. A Nation of Farmers examines the limits and dangers of the globalized food system and shows how returning to the basics is our best hope. The book includes in-depth guidelines for:

  • Creating resilient local food systems
  • Growing, cooking, and eating sustainably and naturally
  • Becoming part of the solution to the food crisis

The book argues that we need to make self-provisioning, once the most ordinary of human activities, central to our lives. The results will be better food, better health, better security, and freedom from corporations that don’t have our interests at heart.

This is critical reading for anyone who eats and cares about high-quality food.

Sharon Astyk farms in New York, and is the author of Depletion and Abundance.

Aaron Newton is a sustainable systems land planner in North Carolina, and is the founding editor of Groovy Green.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Astyk (Depletion and Abundance) and Newton, both farmers and activists, think it's a "Big Lie" to argue that Americans aren't ready for "real and deep and radical change in our way of living." Now, they insist, is the perfect time for a nation of producers fulfilling "real needs rather than abstracted wants." With links to global warming and coming energy shortages (they also subscribe to the Peak Oil theory), the food crisis they foresee demands a shift from industrial farming to sustainable agriculture, from a supermarket and fast-food mentality to a "locavore" approach, and from an American diet dominated by meat to one rich in whole grains, potatoes, legumes, roots and vegetables. They finger factory farming as a major source of ecological damage and global economic disparity, likening the industry to Soviet collectives. The authors' radical plan calls for 50 to 100 million Americans to become subsistence farmers working their own small plots, resulting in 200 million relying solely on organic food grown nearby, and huge savings in resources and health care. Naturally, this is a decidedly Utopian vision with long odds against it, but Astyk and Newton offer a solid, thought-provoking challenge to conventional wisdom about Americans' lifestyle and capacity for change.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Although most Americans are used to a seemingly endless supply of industrially grown and imported food, many fail to realize that this abundance is neither sustainable nor reliable. Industrial agriculture depletes the soil, poisons the environment, relies on petroleum-based fertilizers, and is controlled by a handful of large corporations. Small-scale farmer Astyk (Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front) and Newton, a sustainable systems land planner, argue that it is both possible and necessary to stop the harm caused by industrial agriculture. They show how the food crisis is tied to the energy crisis, global warming, and resource depletion and conclude that worldwide food shortages are imminent. What the authors propose is a victory farm and garden movement, one similar to the World War II undertaking in which Americans grew their own produce in home gardens. They discuss the many advantages of growing one's own food and of cooking nutritious, flavorful meals from scratch. Their book includes informative discussions of other pertinent works as well as interviews with authors like Richard Heinberg and Bill McKibben. This outstanding and well-written compendium of insights and recommendations, of fervent idealism and practical solutions, is highly recommended.
—Ilse Heidmann

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865716230
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 528,357
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author


Sharon Astyk is a former academic who is a writer, subsistence farmer, parent, activist and prolific blogger (www.sharonastyk.com and http://henandharvest.com/). She farms in upstate New York with her husband and four children, raises livestock, and grows and preserves vegetables. She is the author of Depletion and Abundance, and co-author of A Nation of Farmers. Aaron Newton is a sustainable land planner and director of environmental programs at Outdoor Living, a design firm in NC. He is the founding editor of Groovy Green, an Internet magazine and has a large following on his weblog. He speaks on issues of sustainability.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Preface ix

Introduction: The Big Lie xi

1 A Fast Train Food Security in Crisis 1

2 Hands on the Wheel What We Should Be Getting from Our Food System 53

3 Ring the Bell It Starts with How We Eat 107

4 God's Away on Business What Are Our Choices? 159

5 Hard Times Come Again No More Feeding the World 215

6 The Landslide Brings it Down Feeding Ourselves 259

7 The Hands that Built the Country We're Always Trying to Keep Down Extending the Table 299

8 Keep Your Hand on the Plow Transformations 333

Recipe Index 365

A List of Useful Resources 367

Endnotes 371

Index 383

About the Authors 393

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