Tuesday February 16 2021 is an odd time for having a book come out that offers hope for farmers and fishers and the many others in our food system. This last year, American farmers lost $20 billion, and the farmworkers who work with them suffered some of the highest rates of hospitalization and death of any profession other than health workers.
In 2021, the USDA project that net farm income will decrease another 10 percent or $12 billion. And yet how many of us walk around realizing that we are in a farm crisis WORSE than one in 1985 when Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp staged their first Farm Aid concert?
How many of us really believe that our recycled Ag Secretary Vilsack can pull us from ruin, given how poorly he served marginalized farmers and farmworkers during his last bout in D.C.?
To survive the current crisis, we need to plumb a deeper wisdom about how farmers have survived other existential crises.
That is why I turn to Ellen Davis and her treatment of the farm crisis in the time of the Maccabees—not an Irish clan of potato diggers—and Wendell Berry’s Unsettling of America.
But even more, we need to listen freshly to the words offered by Jesus to farmers and fishers in Galilee two thousand years ago, when they entered the Dire Straits of Globalized Commodities in the Roman Empire for the first time.
So come along with me on a virtual tour of Galilee and its food crisis in the era of Jesus to gain new insights of what we ourselves need to do right away, right now, right in the rows, orchards and bodegas.