Making a Case for Urban Agriculture

Urban agriculture offers a way to work toward the world's energy, climate and hunger problems.


| July 2011



Rooftop community garden

"Only recently, with the spread of factory farms and the global food system, have we turned away from real food, local farm sources and meals as shared events."

Photo by Adobe Stock/Julie

The following is an excerpt from Urban Agriculture by David Tracey (New Society, 2011). The excerpt is from Chapter 1: Home Sweet Farm: Kitchen Gardens in the Kitchen. 

The new food revolution will be fought at home, meaning your home, in the kitchen. All the more reason to begin with the simple act of starting a few windowsill plants in pots, the nearest farm you’ll ever know, which we’ll discuss later in this chapter. But before we go there, let’s agree on why this all matters and why the kitchen is the perfect place to start.

Big Food doesn’t just want you off the family farm. It wants you out of the kitchen too, except for the minute or so it takes to zap some factory “fuud” product in the microwave — the polar opposite of a home-cooked meal using real food. Why? Because factory farming and factory fuud go together like high-fructose corn syrup and type 2 diabetes.

Let’s forget for a moment the central role a traditional kitchen plays in the alchemy of spreading love through sharing food. Preparing a real meal takes time, which many of us now find in short supply. So is it really that wrong to pop a sixty-second solution into the microwave? If we’re tired or busy and it’s on sale and even says something like “healthy” or “lean” right on the package?

I won’t judge, lest I be judged for the dubious food choices I make all the time, but I will point out that food is culture. When we eat, we ingest the physical world, accepting into our bodies the customs and values and politics of the system that got that food into our mouths.

For most of our history we have done this not as solitary beings but as members of a community. Only recently, with the spread of factory farms and the global food system, have we turned away from real food, local farm sources and meals as shared events. Nowadays we don’t even think it strange to gulp down our calories standing over a kitchen sink or sitting behind the wheel of a car. And each time we do this, we lose a little of the culture that got us this far.





elderberry, echinacea, bee hive

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