Food from the Radical Center

Thomas Kelly: Healing Our Lands & Communities

Three-quarters of a century ago, a thoughtful Quaker named Thomas Kelly deftly pegged the dilemma, that you, me, and many other people are challenged by: “We feel honestly the pull of many obligations, and try to fulfill them all.”

But then, Kelly turned his attention from the problem to the resolution, “We have hints that there is a way of life, vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. If we ...

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What stories do we tell about the world, when we are left to ourselves, during times of fear?

What stories do we tell about the world, our loved ones and “adversaries” when we are left to ourselves, during times of fear?

A few weeks ago, I was with a cousin of mine who lives on the Lebanon-Syria border who had been captured or kidnapped and put in a wooden box — a casket, really, for eight days, without any contact with his family or friends, just a little water, bread, and use of a bathroom while his fate was ...

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Americans need to see faces and hear voices South of the Border, Now more than ever.

Although most of the Central American Caravan is still a thousand miles away from the border, Trump’s first troops arrived there with orders from the Pentagon not to get directly involved!

So while they are waiting 5-7 weeks for their presumed adversaries to arrive, why don’t we give them a four week vacation (without their guns) in the villages of northern Mexico so that they can rehumanize rather than dehumanize Latinos. We can put them to work helping farmers bring in ...

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Walking Toward the Radical Center at the Border

US citizens have 20-30 days to organize to join and accompany Central American refugees for the last 100-150 miles of their journey to the border. A handful of Central Americans on that human rights pilgrimage have already sued Trump in US courts for his violations of US law.

What we need to organize are small groups of 5-7 friends in two cars who can go south of the border and help their group with car shuttles as they accompany Central Americans, ...

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The Loss of a Generous Innovator and Big Heart – Kurt Michael Friese…

Daybreak broke upon me on the Lebanese shores of the Mediterranean with heartbreaking news: my old friend, chef and co-author Kurt Friese has passed away in Iowa City. He was cofounder with his wife Kim of Devotay restaurant of Slow Food Iowa City, and of Edible Iowa River Valley magazine.

I met him at the first big national gathering of Slow Foodies in Vermont, and we stayed friends ever since traveling for a year together with Kraig Kraft to coauthored: Chasing ...

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It Is Up to Us, As Plain-clothed Citizens – to Bring this Country Back into a State of Decency

Our President, Senate and judicial system have spoken, but they did so without deeply listening to many, if not most of you. So it is up to us – as plain-clothed citizens – to bring this country back into a state of decency, of true dialogue, of collaboration, and of restorative justice.

They obviously have the power by our Constitution to make certain decisions, but we should not cede to them the power to “right the ship” – that is our ...

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Environmental Historian Curt Meine, took me through the Badger Lands Project facilitated by the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance

On Sunday, biodiversity conservationist, writer, environmental historian, Curt Meine, took me through the Badger Lands Project facilitated by the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance. It is a spectacular example of how how biocultural land restoration can bring together diverse partners and begin to heal long-standing wounds in a rural community.

Today the Ho-chunk nation, Wisconsin DNR, descendants of early Anglo farmer-homesteaders, the USDA Dairy Forage Resource Center, the Bluffview Sanitary District, the Savannah Institute and University of Wisconsin are all playing roles ...

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It is time for all of us to invest our food dollars in the ranchers who are part of the “radical center” movement.

On September 10th, Sienna Chrisman predicted to Civil Eats readers that a “second farm crisis” is upon us, one that echoes the legendary crisis in 1987 that is so well documented in Marty Strange’s classic book, Family Farming. Chrisman’s fine reporting reveals that this current dilemma for American food producers has been triggered by a number of factors, including radical shifts in farm policies that have affected both stockmen and annual crop producers working in several regions ( Continue Reading →

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We Need to Vote, to Resist Dangerous Policies and to Mobilize our Neighbors to be active.

While out on book tour—from Tucson to Santa Fe, and tonight, at Prescott’s Natural History Institute with the Peregrine Book Company—I palpably hear people deeply worried about whether our country can heal from all its recent traumas. Yes we need to vote, to resist dangerous policies and to mobilize our neighbors to be active in hearings, voters’; registration and political actions—but we also need ways to come together, listen and engage with those who we presume to be our adversaries, ...

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Join me for a discussion of the largest grassroots environmental movement over the next three weeks!

Wednesday at a celebration of mesquite food artisans and book release of Mesquite! on Tucson’s Tumamoc Hill, the Tucson City of Gastronomy non-profit released its publication, Baja Arizona Artisanal Food Products. It features 108 food products from the Tucson basin made accessible and affordable by 52 local food producers who process native plants, honey and heirloom crops into delectable foods and beverages.

The same day, my new book Food from the Radical Center was first publicly presented at the same event, ...

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What if impoverished communities in America had training and exhibition centers to kickstart new jobs?

While “local” has become an overused buzzword in many places over the last two decades, “green livelihoods for local residents” remains a goal that many communities aspire to achieve. In southern Arizona along the border with Mexico, many rural communities have all but dried up for lack of jobs offering livable wages. Supporting start-up food microenterprises remains one of the best ways to jumpstart a lagging local economy, and yet the crews which run such operations often work long hours ...

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We urgently need to invest in the restoration of food-producing landscapes in our cities.

If you think that rural areas are the only places where communities are working on the restoration of food-producing habitats, look again: Many urban farmers and gardeners are endeavoring to “daylight” the arable land and potable water sources buried under the surface of most metropolitan areas. In fact, some of America’s best arable lands and finest rivers run through the urban matrix. There are good reasons that we should not “throw in the towel” regarding the future of agriculture inside ...

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The diversity of foods on American tables is greater than at any time in the last century.

During trying times, it seems that all of us need reminders of what still works in and about America, and one phenomena that still reaps benefits for most of us is the panoply of voluntary actions taken by ordinary people like you and me to conserve, restore and enrich to the diversity of foods available to our children, our elders, and ourselves. Because of these efforts, the diversity of foods and beverages on American tables is greater than at any ...

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Nothing much can happen in our communities – If we do not partake in the daily or monthly actions of taking care of one another.

What if each of us – as time and energy allows – tried to take a day each month to work exclusively toward the restoration of our lived-in landscape with our neighbors? What if we went beyond picking up garbage and mending cracked sidewalks, to planting trees, building check dams across downcut gullies, or sowing native grasses and wildflowers along bike paths and railways that have become barren or weedy after years of grading and spraying? All I am sure ...

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Join me this month in celebrating the many voices that are rediversifying the American Farmlands

It is sometimes easy to forget that just a quarter century ago, there were less than 2000 functioning farmers markets in the entire U.S. As of late August, 2018, the USDA has recorded a total of 8730 farmers markets in the U.S., roughly a five-fold increase in less than 25 years. What I love about farmers markets is what I’ve seen in Bloomington, Indiana — an old conservative farmer in overalls selling pawpaws next to a college-age woman in a ...

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Rural Conservatives are Indeed Effective Conservationists

I’ve been humbled to learn that conservative Republicans throughout the country are not only among the leaders in the recovery of rare standard breeds of domesticated turkeys, but are also essential to the recovery of wild turkey populations and the restoration of their habitats. It tells me two things.

First, that some conservationists dismiss the efforts of those interested in conserving domesticated seeds and breeds because they claim there is no carryover in concern for wild species, which is a false ...

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Conversations with people coming together to restore disappearing foods.

Having spent a lot of time on the ground with people coming together to restore disappearing foods of their regions, there are two particular conversations that have always stood out for me: I remember one old timey apple grower in Appalachia telling me that he loves growing heirloom varieties, but if some of them have no interest among consumers, he has to cull them out of his orchard to make room for varieties that still attract the interest of urban ...

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Restore the Spirit of the Human Commons in which we work and play…

With less than 7 weeks before my new book Food from the Radical Center is available to you from Island Press, I wanted to alert you to the fact that you can get a 20% discount using the discount code “4NABHAN” when you order through www.islandpress.org/radical-center.

But I also wanted to offer you the reason why I’ve spent two years doing fieldwork & writing about biocultural & eco-gastronomic restoration: “The ultimate goals of restoration are not merely to heal & ...

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Keep your eyes open for this fall, only you can make a difference.

It seems that our jefe’s entire regime is crashing & falling apart faster than a 250 pound bag of chickenshit thrown off of a tower. But we must keep one eye on this fall & the other on the ones already damaged and marginalized by months of bad policies, from the babies without mothers in the tent camps of Tornillo and Yuma, to the farmers who have just been caught in the crossfire of tariff wars.

It is easy to feel ...

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We need both kinds of work to come together as one, rather than being endeavors.

Many of us work to save species, habitats, seeds, breeds and the earth itself. Others work to ensure that the fruits of these labors—the healthy food harvested from restored landscapes—actually reaches our communities—including the elderly, infirm or otherwise disadvantaged—to benefit them, to delight them, to nourish them and to enliven their sensory responses to this beautiful, delicious world we live within.

Savoring the world does not mean consuming it as much as valuing its species and peoples and landscapes for their ...

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