Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Okay, there is a lot going on with this question of farming. Others might want to parse the issues differently but here's one way, emphasizing the public health perspective:

  1. What we eat, and why. The biology, economics and culture of food
  2. The externalities of farming (here I refer mostly to environmental issues, social externalities are considered below)
  3. Farming in the context of the community, the social organization of farming
  4. Separated from the above for adequate consideration, the conditions of farm labor
  5. Seasonality and locality. New Englanders are always going to want their coffee, orange juice, and fresh produce in January. We need relationships with farmers in distant places as well as nearby. How should those relationships be organized?
  6. Back to nature? Sustainable, organic farming in the industrial age.
  7. The farming way of life -- not for everybody!
  8. The democratization of knowledge -- who owns agricultural science, what kind of knowledge does it produce, and how is that related to all of the above?

People may have items to add to that list, or specific issues to propose under any of the bullets. I hope to tackle them all, with your help.