Recent Articles About Agroecology

What Toledo’s Water Crisis Reveals About Industrial Farming

As you may have heard, about half a million people in the Toledo, Ohio area lost their municipal drinking water supply on Saturday because of possible microbial toxin contamination from Lake Erie. A combination of heavier spring rains, exacerbated by climate change, and runoff of phosphorus from fertilizer applied to crops is the likely cause. The good news is that farmers can adopt better practices to eliminate this problem. The bad news is that the agriculture industry, and the public policies that it lobbies for, work against these solutions. Read more

Dan Barber Takes a Radically Holistic Approach to Food and Farming With ‘The Third Plate’

Dan Barber’s book, The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, was released this week, graced with blurbs by everyone from Ruth Reichl to Al Gore and Malcolm Gladwell. And if it feels like it was a long time coming, that’s because it was. The chef and writer spent over a decade visiting farmers and other food producers and ruminating about the role their work plays in the wider natural world. Meanwhile Barber was also running a world-renowned restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, part of a small constellation of other efforts, including Blue Hill restaurant in New York City, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and Barber’s nearby family farm. Read more

Don’t Panic, Go Organic: The IPCC Report Should be a Wakeup Call for Climate-Smart Food

The just-released synthesis report on global warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has prompted some to start name-dropping Thomas Malthus. Malthus, you may remember, was the 19th Century British economist and demographer who warned that population growth would inevitably lead to global food shortages. In a New York Times article just days after the long-awaited report was released, reporter Eduardo Porter wrote that the IPCC “rolled straight into Malthus’s territory, providing its starkest warning yet about the challenge imposed by global warming on the world’s food supply.”

So should we be stockpiling Chef Boyardee and plowing down forests for farms to forestall famine? Not so fast. Read more

Four New Studies Implore Us to Change the Way We Farm

Crazy weather we’ve been having this year: Monster snowstorms across New England, record-breaking freezes in the Midwest, drought, wildfires (in January!), and weirdly hot days in California. For many farmers across the country, and around the world, all this extreme weather—on top of ever-intensifying environmental and economic stresses—is pushing them to their edge. Read more

Like Sustainable Food? Support Public Plant Breeding

We were sitting in a field of sweet corn in Minnesota in the late summer of 2013. A pile of 200 husked and partially eaten ears of that same corn sat at our feet. After tasting that many ears of sweet corn in one sitting, most people would swear off the traditional flavors of summer for good. But not the two of us: A couple of graduate students studying to become classical plant breeders. Along with our collaborators, we were particularly excited that day. Read more

EcoFarm: 34 Years of Bringing the Organic Farming Community Together

Thirty-four years ago the very first EcoFarm conference took place in Winters, CA. It was called “To Husband, The Earth” and was the brainchild of Amigo Bob Cantisano. At the time, he was running the only organic farm supply company and thought it would be valuable to create an event for farmer friends to gather. So he sent out a mailing and 45 people showed up for a big potluck. Read more

MESA: Multicultural Exchange Program for Farmers

Lauren Augusta realized the need for sustainable agriculture exchange while working at a conventional agriculture training program, where she observed the detrimental effects of agrochemicals on the land and farmers’ health. “I loved the idea of cross-cultural exchange, but I ultimately couldn’t defend the agricultural model my old program promoted,” she says. “I was increasingly alarmed by the unjust and disconnected farming practices I witnessed.” Read more