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Gary’s Vision – The Big Picture…

Caring Capacity versus Carrying Capacity

Re-Designing Borderland Food Systems for the Health of the Land and the Health of Its Multicultural Communities

By: Gary Paul Nabhan, Kellogg Chair in Food and Water Security for the Southwest Borderlands, University of Arizona


More than seventy years ago, Aldo Leopold first compared wholeness and health in the human body with those attributes in farmscapes. In a prophetic essay entitled “The Farmer as a Conservationist,” Leopold (1939, 1999) offered this analogy:

“It seems to me that the pattern of the rural landscape, like the configuration of our own bodies, has in it (or should have in it) a certain wholeness.”

“It seems to me that the pattern of the rural landscape, like the configuration of our own bodies, has in it (or should have in it) a certain wholeness.” He spins out this analogy be taking us to an imaginary farmscape where fertile fields, orchards and pastures are situated amidst hedgerows, ponds, woods, and wildflower beds. There, Leopold suggests, “The fields and pastures of this farm, like its sons and daughters, are a mixture of wild and tame attributes, all built on the foundation of good health. The health of the fields is their fertility.”

Leopold then compares “the removal of any natural feature from a rural landscape” to be equivalent to the amputation of someone’s leg, asserting that it cannot be considered good conservation, good taste or good farming. Our collective task as a rural community, in Leopold’s mind, should be the quest for “wholeness in the farm landscape” and by analogy, a quest for health in our community of humans mixed together with the other-than-human world.

As I ponder Leopold’s vision, I take a break from planting wildflowers, winter greens and pollinator-attracting perennials on the edge of a small orchard in the U.S./Mexico borderlands where Leopold and his family had many of their most formative experiences.

I wonder what Leopold think about these two occurrences since his death in 1948: 1) the Southwest Borderlands have suffered the highest rates of farmland loss and rural landscape fragmentation of any region in North America; and 2) over that same period, the Native American and Hispanic inhabitants of this region have suffered steeper rises in adult-onset diabetes and other nutritionally-related diseases than any other ethnic populations on the face of the earth. For our purposes here, I will not dwell on whether these two occurrences can be statistically correlated, or whether cause-and-effect can be discerned. Instead, I hope to use these startling trends to launch our quest for healing solutions by asking a question as large as those which Leopold asked three-quarter of a century ago:

Is it possible to redesign our food systems in the U.S./Mexico borderlands so that they enhance the “caring capacity” of our lands and its communities? Can we increase that capacity so that we will be less apt to impoverish both the health of the land and the health of its multi-cultural communities than they currently do?

Ultimately, the answer we choose depends upon whether we merely wish to increase our carrying capacity in order to feed a world of nine million people (Godfray et al 2010), or whether we wish to truly focus on the caring capacity of the land and its biotic communities so that all will be more fully nourished and sustained.

By the long-term health of the land and its biotic community, I mean the ecological health as Aldo Leopold sensed it” as a diverse, dynamic and resilient community that has “the capacity of self-renewal” in working landscapes, both for the humans and other-than-human beings in its membership.

By the health of the multicultural community, I mean not only the physical, mental and spiritual health of its individual human members, but the diversity and resilience of those multiple cultures in communities in our foodshed on both sides of the border. This might include everything from the reducing the “relative deprivation” experienced by unemployed or underemployed people who formerly worked in the food system, to ensuring the persistence of and access to culturally-appropriate food traditions, to maintaining the diversity and resilience of the microbes within our kitchens and in our guts.

The problem with most current systems of food production, distribution and use in our region is that they were not necessarily designed with both of these goals (land health, human health) in mind. This may simply be because our brains and hearts sometimes seem aversive to simultaneously holding onto two goals such as land health and human health. Perhaps it is easier (and lazier) to think oppositionally, rather than integratively. Nevertheless, it can be done and should be done.

We may already be witnessing massive failure of our regional foodsheds to sustain both the health of our residents and of the land. As former farmer Sergio Robledo Zepeda told journalist Juliana Barbassa (2011) when she visited him in Estación Ortiz, Sonora, “la tierra ya no da.” The land no longer gives and can no longer nourish his family.

This may be because our food systems have been incrementally “formed” by default or by disproportionately shaped by the efforts of a few food corporations and government agencies, rather than being intentionally designed through the processes of a true food democracy. Whatever the causes, our borderland food systems now exhibit certain dysfunctions that have kept them from best serving the health needs of our peoples, and from sustaining the land, water, plant, microbe and animal resources upon which we depend.


Since World War II, urban growth in the Sun Belt of both countries has dramatically changed the availability of water and land for producing food. But within the half-century of the Sun Belt boom, the rural economy of the borderlands had become so dysfunctional that today, borderland counties suffer from a severity of poverty that is twice as high as the U.S. national average.

There are not only dramatic disparities between U.S. and Mexican citizens, but also between indigenous minorities.

Briefly, let us consider just a few of those dysfunctions, setting aside the causes of the various dysfunctions for the moment. There have always been enormous disparities in access to land, water and food in the bi-national region of Southwestern North America, but since World War II, urban growth in the Sun Belt of both countries has dramatically changed the availability of water and land for producing food. Since 1982, the U.S. border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas have lost a significant portion of their food-producing capacity, with over 6 million acres of farm and ranch lands being developed and rendered unavailable for crop or livestock production. According to the American Farmland Trust, that constitutes one fourth of all the farmland loss in the United States over the last three decades.  In northern Mexico, there are no equivalent figures available for the same time period, but we do know that 70% of Mexico’s agricultural lands suffers from land degradation, including 30% from salinization. In the last two decades, hundreds of thousands of acres have been taken out of crop production in Baja California and Sonora as a result of groundwater depletion, salinization and urbanization.

The remaining arable lands in the eight border states are now facing unprecedented water shortages, due to both groundwater depletion and surface water overallocation, and climate change. There are already signs that we must reduce our water budget by 40%, for if our population ever doubles again, all our rivers will be sucked dry.  In addition, the rising prices of other inputs—from a tripling of fossil fuel costs in less than a decade to a tripling of hay prices in west Texas in less than year –have dramatically increased production costs and limited crop and livestock yields, putting many farmers and ranchers on both sides of the border at financial risk. These trends are outlined in our recent report, State of Southwestern Foodsheds (Nabhan and Fitzmorris 2011).

The volume of food still produced in states on both sides of the border might be sufficient to hypothetically supply borderland populations with enough calories and protein to fend off hunger. Nevertheless, it is not currently distributed, processed and consumed in a manner that strategically reduces food insecurity and hunger in the very states where it is produced.  There is an increasing frequency of reports of outright hunger and food insecurity within poverty-stricken communities along the border. But there is also a growing evidence of malnutrition and over-nutrition in other sectors of borderlands society.

For instance, a 2007 household survey in Sonora found that 41% of households surveyed experienced severe food insecurity, and another 34% experienced moderate food insecurity (Trinidad 2007). These levels probably worsened since the 2009 economic downturn and return migration from the U.S. Because over 60% of the fresh vegetables eaten in Arizona and the U.S. as a whole come from Sonora and Sinaloa in the winter and spring months, the impaired health of their people is, in a very real sense an indicator of the ill health of our foodshed. Massive (forced) migrations of populations as a result of economic downturns, catastrophes such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ida and Jimena and immigration policies such as Arizona’s Proposition 1070 have put food-insecure children, elders and unemployed at further risk.

Oddly, a tremendous volume of nutritious fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products moves across the international boundary, primarily through Nogales, but also through Mexicali/Calexico, McAllen/Reynosa and Tijuana/San Diego. However, little of it leaves the NAFTA food superhighways at exit ramps that help nourish the most marginalized peoples in border town communities. As a result, food banks, “food stamp” (SNAP) programs, soup kitchens and other agencies of “band-aid” food relief are being utilized by an unprecedented number of border states residents, and stretching their human and financial resources to the limit.

In short, our current borderlands food system can be considered to be ailing, if not broken, in the sense that land health and human health have been seriously impaired. That may be true of many food systems in North America, but one factor makes the borderlands somewhat unique: the U.S./Mexico border may be the  international boundary with the greatest economic disparities of any border region in the world. There are not only dramatic disparities between U.S. and Mexican citizens, but also between indigenous minorities (O’odham, Cucupa, Papai, Kickapoo, Apache, Yaqui, etc) and the dominant, more Westernized societies which now surround them.

We now understand that these disparities are exacerbated by the marginalized feeling “relatively deprived” by their perceptions of the lavish consumption and unbelievable waste of food and land resources by the more privileged who live in close proximity to them. Many of these people may have a fatalistic attitude, for they have been denied access to even the most basic resources and educational opportunities. (Casasidy 2004)


If we wish to do anything to recover its capacity to feed our bi-national, multi-cultural citizenry, we can no longer assume that a piecemeal approach will suffice. It will do no good to merely tack up new wallboard on a structure with a foundation that is eroding, uprights that are rotting, and support beams that are splintering. We need to collectively redesign and rebuild a structure which can adequately shelter and buffer our citizenry from further displacement, hunger and disease in the face of mounting political, economic and climatic uncertainty.

It may therefore be worth focusing our attention on forming a collective vision of land health and community health that may inspire us to deal with the underlying causes of these dysfunctions. We need to re-design food systems to correct the damage they have done, and redirect our efforts towards engaging a larger constituency of our society in participating in the democratic practices that may ultimately lead to both human healing and land healing on a significant scale.

For the seeds of such a vision to plant for the future, consider the values embedded in this poem by Ranier Maria Rilke (1996):

All will come again into its strength:

The fields undivided, the water undammed,

The trees towering and the walls built low.

And in the valleys, people as strong

And as varied as the land.”

First, let us focus on the power of that initial phrase: all will come again into its strength. This implies that we restore the resilience of our land, water and biodiversity resources in food-producing “working landscapes” so that they may weather climatic uncertainties, economic uncertainties, and the impending scarcities of fossil groundwater fuel and fossil fuels. But we also want to develop and maintain people as strong as varied as the land, who are assured their rights to satisfying livelihoods, education, occupational health, and affordable, nutritious, culturally-appropriate foods that boost rather than impair their immune systems.As a broad brushstroke prescription for the health of the land and its people, Rilke’s five lines may be as good as it gets. They link environmental health to human health, but also hint at the social justice issues which we now know to be plaguing the well-being of people on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. In other words, we will ultimately all benefit from living in a landscape where “the fields and are undivided” and the “walls can be built low.” In general, they speak to integration, durability or resilience, lowered artificial barriers, and heterogeneity as some of the potential means for achieving resilience.

It has become clear that we need to embrace a vision far more complex paradigm than most soundbyte guidelines for either optimal diets or for agricultural sustainability. It must move us toward providing food for various diets which offer a diversity of species, varieties and nutrients produced and prepared in our communities by a diversity of peoples. Such diets will nearly always more healthful than one based on a few of these items provided by a few agribusinesses with headquarters remote from our region. Such diets are potentially better for land health as well, depending upon how that diversity is situated in a working landscape. And the availability of a diversity of foodstuffs may better accommodate the food security of the diverse cultures of our region—Native American, Hispano-Arabic, African, European and Asian in origin—which should be assured affordable access to foods which are suited to their metabolisms, their culinary traditions and their cultural identities.


We need to design food systems that more fully take into account our current understanding of the relationship between diversity and health. Over the last decade, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has corrected its long-standing assumptions that all apples (of more than 18,000 varieties) are nutritionally the same and that all beef (grass-fed or otherwise) — is essentially from the same beast. In other words, numerous nutritional studies of food biodiversity now suggest that this diversity tangibly and positively benefits human health as much as wild biodiversity and crop biodiversity benefits land health. 5Just as certain components of food diversity boost our immune system function, biodiversity on the land benefits the resilience of its habitats.

In his anthology, The Essential Agrarian Reader, social scientist Norman Wirzba (2003) has aptly summarized this principle:

“The old adage that one should never put all of one’s eggs in one basket is especially true here. A stable food system, much like a stable and resilient habitat, depends upon a diversity of crops grown over diverse landscapes. Food diversity attuned to regional ecological possibilities, rather than the massive monocultures of today, is our best defense against foreign attack, whether it comes from pests or terrorists. History has shown repeatedly that as regions grow and consume their own food and rely as little as possible on food imports, their food supply becomes more secure.”

Once FAO’s food chemists began to look at variations in the nutrient density among the varieties of a single fruit species, they realized that eating seven kinds of apples a week may well keep the doctor away with a higher probability than eating the same apple variety once a day. And once other nutritional chemists began to evaluate the  same livestock breed grown under different conditions—as well as various breeds grazing together in the very same pasture—they realized that these breed-environment-forage interactions offer enormously different contents of nutrients,  flavors and ecological footprints. As the grass-fed beef industry has expanded from $5 million/yr sales in 1988 to $1.5 billion in 2010, many ranchers, chefs, nutritionists and marketers realized (read: “remembered”) that there really is no single flavor or nutritional composition that characterizes all grass-fed beef. Perhaps a half century of dominance by corn-fed feedlot-finished beef had simply masked the degree of variation we’ve always found within and between herds.

We also need to sustain microbial diversity in our soils, in the fermented foods and beverages in our kitchens, and in our gastro-intestinal tracts.

The seldom-stated but inherently obvious reason that food diversity benefits our physical health has more to do with the health benefits of secondary chemical compounds in fruits and vegetables (such as phenols) than with their balance of macronutrients such as protein, fat, carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Ironically, some of these secondary chemicals (such as phenols in red or purple grapes and  prickly pear cactus fruits) play key roles in reducing  metabolic stress in humans as much as they do in the reducing drought and heat stress in the crop plants themselves. In addition, the anti-oxidant-rich essential oils of Mexican oreganos not only reduce the damaging effects of high solar radiation and herbivory in the plants, but also reduce the risk of developing certain kinds of cancerous tumors among their human consumers. Because many of these secondary compounds trigger interactions between co-evolved genes, foods, environments and diseases in certain ethnic populations, access to them may be particularly important in multi-ethnic populations such as the ones situated along the U.S./Mexico border. Today, of 1.8 million “Mexican” people who have recently gravitated there, many are from the diverse indigenous communities of Mexico and Central America, and may not metabolically respond to fast foods in the same manner as Euro-Americans.

Redesigning our food systems for this region, we must go beyond assuming that a diversity of livestock breeds and seeds are the only components of biocultural diversity that we need.

But in redesigning our food systems for this region, we must go beyond assuming that a diversity of crop seeds or livestock breeds is the only component of biocultural diversity that we need to foster. We also need to sustain microbial diversity in our soils, in the fermented foods and beverages in our kitchens, and in our gastro-intestinal tracts. Beneficial components of this microbial biodiversity have been knocked back by the indiscriminate use of biocides in our fields, antibiotics in our livestock and in our own bodies. It may well be that these seldom-seen microbes play a disproportionately important role in sustaining the health of our agricultural soils and our bodies.

Let me highlight two food producers in the borderlands who are already paying attention to such issues: Ivan Aguirre of Rancho Inmaculada of Northern, Sonora Mexico, and Ken Singh of Singh Farms on the Salt River Indian Reservcation near Scottsdale Arizona. Ivan Aguirre has virtually taken a devastated ranch in the arid heart of the Sonoran Desert, and within two decades has transformed it into a lush mesquoite grassland that produces microbially-rich soil, grass-fed beef, huntable wildlife, mesquite flour, mesquite firewood and charcoal, biochar, mesquite parquet floors and other non-timber forestry products. Ken Singh has taken irrigated farmland in the heart of Metro Phoenix and developed extraordinarily deep topsoil from composted materials and microbial cultures that now support a diverse food forest that directly serves the Pima Indian community a variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables. These p[rojects have created land health, jobs and nutritious food in areas where others said it could not be done.

As Ivan and Ken have done, we all need to pay greater attention to the structural diversity of our food-producing landscapes, developing a richer patchwork of orchards, mixed forage pastures, vegetable and grain fields across any particular food-producing landscape. This may not only offer us a more ecological resilience, but economic resilience as a well, especially during an era of volatile food markets.

As Aldo Leopold urged us to do decades ago, we must also restore the wild biodiversity of our farms, orchards and ranches, in particular, through creating better habitat for a diversity of native bees, to assure pollination services during an era in which we have suffered devastating declines of honeybees in the U.S./ Mexico borderlands. Estimates vary, but we may now only have 15 to 40% of the honeybee colonies which we had available for crop pollination prior to 1985. It is important to foster the recovery of honey bees but it may be just as important to invest in nesting habitat and nectar corridors for the diverse set of native honeybees, butterflies and hummingbirds in southern Arizona, which has the potential to be “capitol” for  native pollinator diversity in all of North America.

If we extend our diversity-for-health metaphor to other realms, we need to see farmers and ranchers drawing upon a greater variety of renewable energy sources (solar, wind, etc) and water sources (concentrated rainfall and captured runoff, restored stream flows and treated effluents) than in the recent past. We need to foster a greater variety of size classes or farms and ranchers, as well as greater access of arable land and potable water by a diversity of cultures and classes within our communities. We need a greater variety of outlets for their fresh and value-added products, so that we can employ a larger number of people in direct-marketing them to residents and tourists in our region.  And finally, we need to foster a greater range of community-based support services that aid in food production, processing, distribution and nutritionally-oriented preparation and consumption of locally-produced foods. Some of this infrastructure—such as community-based health services—should be supported by our tax dollars through government programs, but government-subsidies cannot and should not drive the trajectory of these operations. We also need to foster private entrepreneurs and co-ops to invest in strategically-placed meat processing plants, community kitchens, food hubs, farmers markets, alternative health therapies, locally-owned restaurants and groceries.

The same is true with the assessment of access to health-promoting foods in low income communities. We’ve gotten what we measured. This last spring, the USDA released maps of where “food deserts” are located among American counties and cities, but failed to explain that its primary criterion for defining a food desert was the absence of a full service chain grocery store within close proximity of a population of consumers. In essence, if you don’t have a Food City, a Safeway, an Albertson’s or  Super Wal-Mart in your neighborhood, you are categorized as living a food desert even if you have a two-day a week farmer’s market, a CSA, five roadside stands, and a locally-owned bakery.

 When Kelly Watters and I pointed this out in blog in Grist, we were critiqued by those who get funds from the USDA to start farmer’s markets and community food kitchens in these designated food deserts (Nabhan and Watters 2011). But within a month of my op-ed, a consortium of Wal-Mart, Walgreens, SuperValue and other big box grocery chains announced that they would work with Obama’s Feed America program to newly locate 3500 big boxes in food deserts “to help the poor with their food access problems.”

And yet, what I have documented in the Nogales, Arizona area is that the Wal-Mart there currently provides just 43 varieties of fresh produce (none of it local) in any given week, compared to 72 varieties in the Arizona-owned Food City nearby, and 98 varieties in the locally-owned Red Mountain Foods in nearby Patagonia, Arizona. If one were to objectively select allies in the private sector with which to effectively reduce food insecurity, Red Mountain Foods and Food City would make far more rational choices Wal-Mart.

Despite its hype, Wal-Mart is still far from bringing much nutritional density or diversity to low-income neighborhoods and rural counties. As it provides easy access for low-income households to high fructose corn syrups and other foods high on the glycemic index, it turns food deserts into food dead zones, where caloric over-enrichment depletes health. Even though Wal-mart’s executives have pledged to increase access to “cheap” fresh food, they are still deferring the real costs of that cheap food so that they will need to be paid for by society later. Again, Norman Wirzba (2003):                       

“Above all we need to get past the idea that cheaper food is better food, especially when we remember that the cheapness of food is made possible by the externalization of many ecological and cultural (especially health) costs, costs that we will end up paying in some other way.”                                                                                                               

In my mind, we’ve been training nutritionists, dieticians, food justice advocates and even agricultural scientists in the wrong manner. We need to train them in ecological, agricultural, medical and socioeconomic sciences under the paradigm that ecosystems health and human health share many of the same principles and pathways. We need to engage them in inquiries about the nature of health and resilience in whole systems. And they need to become competent in facilitation of collaborative design processes that some architects and community planners have used for over thirty years.

At the same time, they need to do tangible sweat equity work in these systems to feel how they function and know how they don’t function. In short, we need to train a whole cadre of food system design team members that include farmers, ranchers, nurserymen, butchers, bakers, chefs, nutritionists, health educators, restoration ecologists and community-oriented economists to build food supply chains or trophic structures that have smaller ecological footprints and greater social equity built into them.

Further, we’ve been training agricultural scientists (but few urban farmers) and chefs (but few community kitchen managers). Rather than thinking that the number of farmers is going to instantly rise from its dismal 1.5% level to something more substantial within our fleeting lifetimes, we need to build communities of professionals and citizens with many skills that can be positively employed in redesigning our food systems for land health and human health.

But to even begin to achieve that, we need to humble ourselves enough to do what every drunk must do who enters an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting: to admit that our current modus operandi is NOT working and that we are not in control… What is needed most in the borderlands region and North America at large is the kind of multi-cultural community-level and landscape-level effort now being fostered again in both rural and urban areas through the likes of David Sloan Wilson’s Neighborhood Project in Binghamton, New York, the Neo Food Web around Cleveland, Ohio, the Intervale Foundation initiatives around Burlington, Vermont,  Transition Boulder in Boulder County, Colorado and Roots of Change in California.

None of our ideas will hold any water or health if they are on the results of a single individual innovator, non-profit, or institution and not the entire community. Our proposed solutions need to emerge from community members, who then need empowered and supported by our institutions, and not the other way around.

Our new initiative in Southwest Borderlands Food and Water Security will move toward these ends by:

  1. Restoring the health of the land through regenerating ecosystem services, first by restoring the flows of irrigable streams and secondly, by restoring pollination services to formerly-depleted farm- and ranchlands.
  2. Providing training for the unemployed, underemployed and students of several borderlands cultures so that they might become co-designers of future food systems, in addition to farmers, foragers, gleaners, ranchers, farmers market managers, food hub managers, chefs and community cooks.
  3. Addressing the health of the most at-risk marginalized peoples through restoring connectivity between emergency food relief organizations and local food-producing farms and ranches to offer both fresh food and employment.
  4. Supporting “foodshed community fellows” from non-profits, farmer’s alliances and private businesses to advance micro-enterprises and start-up projects that help redesign our food systems.
  5. Engaging students in in-service learning opportunities with these fellows to make tangible projects work on the ground.
  6. Co- seed, fruit or grain schools, foodshed cafes, workshops, forums and “food wagon” exhibits to broader the discussion on the future of our food systems to include people who have only been marginally involved in those discussions to date.
  7. Changing the current dynamics bi-national foodsheds, by proposing policy reforms and best practices to allow nutritious food from regional producers to reach a wide range of constituencies in our region for affordable prices, while minimizing our foodprints.

Ultimately, we must find tangible ways to implement cohesive vision of carrying capacity that bridges land health with human health in a manner which remembers the lessons of history summarized here by agrarian philosopher Norman Wirzba (2009):

“Agrarianism tests success and failure not by projected income statements or by economic growth, but by the health and vitality of a region’s entire human and non-human neighborhood. Agrarianism, we might say, represents the most complex and far-reaching accounting system ever known, for according to it, success must include a vibrant watershed and soil base; species diversity; human and animal contentment; communal creativity; responsibility; joy; usable waste; social solidarity and sympathy; attention and delight; and the respectful maintenance of all the sources of life.”


Literature in the Order of Citation

Leopold, Aldo. 1999. The farmer as conservationist. Pp. 161-175 in J. Baird Callicott and Eric T. Freyfogle, ed.s For the Health of the Land. (Island Press, Washington, D.C.) Reprinted from a 1939 edition of American Forests.

Godfray, H. Charles J. et al 2010. Food security: The challenges of feeding nine million people. Science 327(5967): 812-818.

Barbassa, Julianna. 2011. Nogales: When the Land No Longer Gives.

Nabhan, Gary Paul and Regina Fitzsimmons. ed.s 2011. State of the Southwestern Foodsheds. (Sabores Sin Fronteras, University of Arizona Southwest Center with Edible Communities, Tucson AZ.)

Trinidad, Quizan Plata, 2007. Inseguridad Alimentaria en Diferentes Regiones del Estado de Sonora: Causas, Estrategias y Consequencias. Secretaria de Salud Publica, Mexico.

Cassidy, John 2004. Relatively deprived. The New Yorker, April 3.

Rilke, Ranier Maria 1996. “‘Alles wird weider gross,” Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy,( Riverhead Books/Penguin Group USA, New York).

Wirzba, Norman. 2002. Introduction: Why Agrarianism Matter—Even to Urbanites. Pp. 1-20 in Norman Wirzba, ed. The Essential Agrarian Reader.University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.

Nabhan, Gary Paul and Kelly Watters. 2011. Mom-and-pop versus big-box stores in food deserts. June.

Wilson, David Sloan 2012. The Neighborhood Project (Little, Brown & Co., New York.)

Wirzba, Norman. 2002. Introduction: Why Agrarianism Matter—Even to Urbanites. Pp. 1-20 in Norman Wirzba, ed. The Essential Agrarian Reader.University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.




LAND HEALTH                                                           HUMAN HEALTH 
Regeneration of resilience through restoration of  ecosystem services Regeneration of immune defenses through probiotics, exercise, fasting, etc 
Landscape-level coordination of diverse infrastructure for food production, harvest,  processing, transport & preparation Community-based coordination of diverse  health care, physical therapy, fitness and dietary intervention options
Minimizing dependence on fossil fuel, fossil  groundwater, antibiotics & petrochemicals Minimizing dependence on surgery, antibiotics, radiation- and chemo-therapy
Nurturing high diversity of microbes & invertebrates (beneficial insects, etc) in the soil Nurturing high diversity of microbes in the kitchen, and in the gut
Rescue & renewal of local knowledge about best use of nearby water, soil & soil nutrient amendments for food production Rescue & renewal of local knowledge about best use of local herbs, fungi, salts& springs for health recovery 
Producing diverse fruits & vegetables  varieties & grassfed livestock breeds rich in secondary chemicals Shaping diets from diverse fruit, vegetables Varieties & grassfed livestock breeds rich in secondary chemicals
Designing & strategically locating multi-dimensional food hubs to reduce food miles Designing & strategically locating multi-dimensional health service hubs to reduce emergency transportation miles
Co-locating food processing facilities to maximize positive feedback loops Co-locating health facilities to maximize positive feedback loops




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Comments (1)

“More than seventy years ago, Aldo Leopold first compared wholeness and health in the human body with those attributes in farmscapes.”

I didn’t know or didn’t remember that Aldo Leopold use this analogy, which I am using in my current book about food on Bainbridge Island. I guess i better go read this essay.

Hope you are well.

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