J500 Media and the Environment

Friends, Romans and Countrymen – Lend Me Your Ears by cherileb
November 7, 2008, 3:05 am
Filed under: Food + Health, Society + Media | Tags: , , , , , , ,



As I sat at kitchen tables in rural eastern Kansas, fumbling with my questions and camera angle, it struck me what a rare and critical part of our society these rural midwestern islands are. 


According to the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau, only 20 percent of us live in rural areas.   In the 1860s, 80 percent of us did.   In the 1950s, it was half and half.


Fewer farmers produce more food for more people on less land.  Consolidation and specialization has created a system where only a few people, compared to the greater population, know how to subsistence farm.  Basically, fewer and fewer people in the U.S. know how to grow enough nutritious food to keep themselves and others alive.


When the Roman Empire fell, people fled Rome in droves because food no longer flowed in abundance along trade routes into the city.  War, political strife and excess (sound familiar) tossed them back into the countryside.  They had to learn to feed themselves again.  Many couldn’t.


As I listened to farmers tell me how precarious their livelihood is thanks to the climate and industrialization, I wondered about the future of our society.  If global trade, mass transportation or financial systems collapsed, would there be enough farmland around New York City to sustain its eight million residents?  Could community supported agriculture and sustainable farming preserve our ability to live in the “wild” by reducing our dependence on imported foods, mass production and corporations?  Should we begin fleeing the city now?  Start plowing under the lawn?


– Cheri



4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Scary questions, Cheri! (You’re video snippets were very informative, by the way.)

They may have been rhetorical questions, but I think they’re interesting to consider. (Kind of like one of those sci-fi movies.) It reminds me of an article I read a few months back about people who have built their completely self-sustaining homes out in the wilderness because they’re sure this whole thing is going to collapse someday.

I’d prefer to think they’re wrong. But I suppose it couldn’t hurt to take a few classes at the county extension, could it?

Comment by chrisr11

Thanks for your thoughts, Chris. Yeah, I bought a canning kit at a garage sale the other day. Not sure why. Made me feel better. Maybe I need to lay off some of MY sci-fi reading, actually.

I also attended this great Food Circle farmer’s expo last year. Food Circle organizes CSA’s in the area. At the expo, there was this fascinating group called Food Not Lawn, http://www.foodnotlawnskc.org/.

Their mission is:

1) growing a local, sustainable, secure food system to respond to rising food prices caused by our current reliance upon a fossil fuel-dependent, industrial food system, and

2) reducing the impact on the earth’s environment caused by the widespread practice of growing costly, non-productive landscapes.

They basically advocate getting rid of your wasteful suburban lawn and replacing it with artful produce beds. Ever heard of decorative cabbage? They have a neat system of planting that doesn’t involve any roto-tilling or breaking of the soil. You layer newspaper and organic matter on top of your soil and push in seed or plants.

I am always fascinated by these kind of ideas and the reasons behind them. There’s something innate within me that feels compelled to pay attention to them. Too much sci-fi or a strong, intuitive sense of survival? I don’t know. While I’m living a well-fed life at the moment, it’s fun and fascinating to contemplate.


Comment by cherileb

Hi Cheri,

Great job on your presentation yesterday! It was fantastic, and I learned so much.

I am a fan of the book, Food Not Lawns, published a couple years ago and would like to take the UMKC Communiversity class on the subject as soon as I can fit it into my schedule — hopefully this summer. So I was excited to see your link to the local group, and it looks like they are responsible for the outreach course.

I have to admit that I’m fascinated with the idea of growing my own food, not so much because I’m worried about systems collapsing, but more so because I love to work in my garden and I tend to buy organic veggies from either a St. Jo co-op or the downtown farmers market. What I like even more is taking the idea of local to my own backyard.


Comment by staceyc08

Hi Cheri,
I was particularly interested in your presentation yesterday because my father is a farmer in rural Kansas. He farms about 2,000 acres, so he clearly is very serious about it. I was curious if when you asked any of the farmers if they would want turbines on their land to make extra income if they were offended? Farmers are a very proud group and I have heard comments before that having a turbine on your land is on obvious sign that you need more money because you can’t make it farming. So it is almost a slap in the face.

It was nice having you in class and hearing your opinions. Have a good rest of the semester!

Comment by brookec08

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: