Filed under: Food + Health, Society + Media | Tags: census, farm, farmland, lawns, romans, rural, subsistence, sustainable
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?
4 Comments so far
Leave a comment