food

NAFTA, Mexican Corn and the Commons

What happens when a market-based agricultural juggernaut invades a 9,000-year-old system of commons-based maize production in Mexico? What are the on-the-ground consequences? How have the farmers using traditional agriculture responded? Journalist Peter Canby offers a stunning account of this saga in his well-reported piece in The Nation, “Retreat to Subsistence.” Highly recommended reading.

"The Gleaners and I"

After seeing a famous painting by Francois Milet, Les Graneuses ("The Gleaners"), of a group of women stooped over picking up leftover stalks of wheat, French documentary film maker Agnes Varda began to wonder about modern-day gleaners — the people who scavenge their food from the scraps that our modern industrial society discards as waste. She wondered about trash in our modern times: “Who finds a use for it? How? Can one live on the leftovers of others?"

The Enclosure of Apples

A century ago, in 1905, there were more than 6,500 distinct varieties of apples to eat, reports Verlyn Klinkenborg in the New York Times. People had their own favorite apples when it came to cooking and eating. They would use different ones for making pies, cider and apple sauce. They could choose from an exotic array of apples with names like Scollop Gillyflower, Red Winter Pearmain, Kansas Keeper.

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