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Essays for Hope and Reflection

Honoring Achievements of Hispanic Food Producers, But No Engagement With Their Struggles

Earlier this month, when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar designated 27 new National Landmarks, five of them were meant to honor America’s historic legacy of Hispanic engagement in agriculture and natural resources.

While the César E. Chávez National Monument at Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz in Keene, California, rightly honored one of the twentieth century’s greatest advocates for the rights of Hispanic food producers and harvesters in the United States, Hispanics may wonder about Salazar’s inclusion of the Drakes Bay Historic and Archeological District on the Point Reyes Peninsula.

Agrarian Poetry: Why We Need Its Prophesies and Imagery Now, More Than Ever

Agrarian poetry? Agrarian prophesies? Agrarian urgencies? One might wonder whether any 21st century preoccupation with agrarian values and agrarian ideals comes as too little, too late, for less than one in six of all Canadian and U.S. citizens live in rural areas outside of towns, cities and suburbs. But listen up. Look again.

World Food Day: A Franciscan Prayer Service on Behalf of Farmers, Farmworkers & Fishers in a Year of Drought & Immigration Debate

Let us remember the words of Saint James: “The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of Our Creator, Our Lord of Hosts” (5:4).

During this season of harvest, in the year in North American history when 71 percent of our rural communities saw their crop seeds and livestock breeds damaged by drought, let us call all cultures, faiths and nations together to celebrate that which the earth did yield, and to ask for repentance for the elements of climate change, water scarcity and damage to the soil that our own actions as eaters and consumers have triggered.

Healing the Lands of the Border

Around the time that Joe Quiroga turned 60, he began a new endeavor that has ultimately had more land conservation impact than most of us will ever achieve over in our lives.

Joe looked out over the uneven cover and ailing forage quality of the Sonoita Plains in Santa Cruz County near Elgin, AZ, and decided that he wanted to try to heal the landscape.

Going with the Grain, Occupying Our Food Supply

As someone who grows nearly a dozen acres of heritage grains in the desert—including the oldest corn and oldest wheat varieties in North America– I recently learned a fact about cereal commodity trading that knocked me off my feet. The most powerful transnational corporation you’ve never heard of—Glencore International PLC, the world’s largest diversified commodities trader—currently controls one tenth of the world’s wheat supply, and one quarter of the global harvest of barley, sunflower and rapeseed.

What are the Heritage Foods of the Rio Santa Cruz and Why Do They Matter?

The cultivation and harvest of domesticated foods began in the Rio Santa Cruz watershed began more than 4100 years ago, making it one of the oldest continuously-farmed cultural landscapes in North America. Surprisingly, some of the same crop varieties that were prehistorically cultivated in the watershed continue to be raised nearby.

High and dry: Southwest drought means rising food prices

Very few urban dwellers have paid attention to the catastrophic drought in the Southwest that began nearly a year ago. But last month, as farmers and ranchers assessed the year’s harvest, it became clear it had knocked back their yields and sales, while driving their costs higher than they have ever been. As the drought continues to drive both meat and vegetable food prices up over the next year, urbanites in the region and beyond will likely notice the change in prices