Culture & Agriculture

a section of the American Anthropological Association

Month: October 2016

Culture and Agriculture at the 2016 AAA meeting

The 115th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association are in Minneapolis from November 16 through 20. Check out the culture and agriculture sessions below:

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Workshop: ACADEMIC AND POST-ACADEMIC CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR PRE-DOCS: KAREN KELSKY TAKES ON PROFESSIONALIZATION (3-0540)
Thursday, November 17; 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 212B

NETWORKING AND MENTORING IN THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD (3-0630)
Thursday, November 17; 12:15 PM – 1:30 PM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 210AB

Workshop: ACADEMIC AND POST-ACADEMIC CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR POST-DOCS: KAREN KELSKY TAKES ON PROFESSIONALIZATION (3-0990) Thursday, November 17; 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 212B

CULTURE AND AGRICULTURE (C&A) BUSINESS MEETING (3-1345)
Thursday, November 17; 6:15 PM – 7:30 PM
Hilton, Room: Marquette IV

CULTURE AND AGRICULTURE (C&A) RECEPTION (3-1490)
Thursday, November 17; 7:45 PM – 9:00 PM
Offsite: Mission American Restaurant

EXPLORING EVIDENCE, ACCIDENTS, AND DISCOVERIES IN CRITICAL FOOD SYSTEMS EDUCATION (PART 1) (4-0170)
Friday, November 18; 8:00 AM – 9:45 AM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 200C

Invited session: SCATTERED: GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS IN ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT: AFRICA AND THE U.S. (4-0140)
Friday, November 18; 8:00 AM – 9:45 AM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 102EF

Invited session: EXPLORING EVIDENCE, ACCIDENTS, AND DISCOVERIES IN CRITICAL FOOD SYSTEMS EDUCATION (PART 2) (4-0450)
Friday, November 18; 10:15 AM – 12:00 PM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 102AB

SCATTERED: GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS IN ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT, LATIN AMERICA (4-0565)
Friday, November 18; 10:15 AM – 12:00 PM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 210AB

Invited session: EVALUATING THE EVIDENCE FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE:  CARBON OFFSETS, FOREST GOVERNANCE, AND THE AFTERMATH OF COP-21 (4-1205)
Friday, November 18; 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM
Hilton, Room: Salon C

ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL NEGOTIATIONS IN CONTEMPORARY U.S. AGRICULTURE (5-0150)
Saturday, November 19; 8:00 AM – 9:45 AM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 200F

NEW DIRECTIONS IN CULTURE, AGRICULTURE, AND FOOD: CHANGING TECHNOLOGIES AND GLOBAL MARKETS (5-0095)
Saturday, November 19; 8:00 AM – 9:45 AM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 102C

Invited session: ANTHROPOLOGICAL INTERROGATIONS OF THE UN’S SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (5-0335)
Saturday, November 19; 10:15 AM – 12:00 PM
Hilton, Room: Marquette VIII

CONFRONTING THE GOLDILOCKS PROBLEM: (RE-)DISCOVERING THE MIDDLE IN ANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDIES OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE (5-1110)
Saturday, November 19; 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 206AB

Weekly Gleaning 10/20: Big revolution, little revolution

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Last weekend in The Hague, Monsanto (often as a metonym for the assemblage of industrial agriculture) was accused of crimes against humanity and nature at a citizens tribunal. Keep an eye out for our ethnographic report on the event, coming soon!

The Monsanto Tribunal may have comprised disparate and sometimes contradictory parties, but it does demonstrate that there is a global movement (as Marion Nestle questioned last week) coalescing around food sovereignty. This year’s Food Sovereignty Prize winners were announced on Saturday – to the Farmworker Association of Florida (domestic) and the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (international). The prize presents an alternative to the World Food Prize, also presented last week and won by a group of plant scientists for biofortified sweet potato.

If you prefer your anti-GMO revolution in the form of processed snacks, check out the new Our Little Rebellion line of “triangular corn-based food” from BFY Brands. It might be hard to reconcile such enterprises with the militant anti-capitalism on display at the Tribunal, but it raises legitimate questions about how to define the scope of the movement. In what other small ways are people (and foods themselves) asserting agency? Agricultural Heritage Systems in Italy, tastes of rural nostalgia in Japan, and Food Policy Action’s 2016 scorecard for every US senator and representative, just in time for the election.

Weekly Gleaning 10/14: A new kind of local

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“Mutant Roots” by Cleve West

Have we ever been Neolithic? Stacy Adimando makes a case for root vegetables as a kind of quasi-causal operator for the emergence of agriculture, in contrast to the fixation on grains. Human-plant coproduction of food continues to reinvent itself as researchers in Finland have successfully “3D-printed” food from plant cells in a kitchen sized bioreactor. Often the technological transformations of food procurement are seen as creating distance between people and the land, but the researchers tout it as “a new and exciting way of producing local food in their own homes”. Not only is this food “local”, but it is also wild – Finnish varieties of Arctic bramble and cloudberries.

3D printed berries - Credit: Image courtesy of Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT)

“3D printed” berries – Image courtesy of Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT)

In other curious developments, the Bright Green Group of Companies has announced a partnership with the Acoma Pueblo tribe to construct 80 acres of greenhouses on the reservation for the cultivation of medicinal plants. It’s unclear whether “medicinal” is a wink at investors to imply cannabis, but in any case the rationalization of plants-as-medicine in collaboration with a Native American tribe sounds ripe for some ethnography. Those working on indigenous rights more generally may be interested in the new Free, Prior and Informed Consent manual from the FAO.

The sportswear company Patagonia has announced their own line of beer. Considering that they also have a history of establishing national parks, this is not so remarkable, but was is interesting is that Long Root Ale is the first commercial beer to be made from kernza. Kernza is a perennial grain being bred by the Land Institute, where such grains have been called the “solution to the 10,000 year problem of agriculture

Those who read the New York Times Magazine’s food issue this week saw those problems in dizzying (and strangely beautiful) display in George Steinmetz’s photographs. In the leading article, Michael Pollan expressed his disappointment at the lack of change during the Obama administration in terms of farming and food. What about change from below? Anyone who has read Seth Holmes fantastic “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies” will be interested to hear that the indigenous Mexican berry pickers at Sakuma Brothers Farms have organized into the first new farmers union in many years: Familias Unidas por la Justicia.

Weekly Gleaning 10/5: Autumn of the anthropocene

“He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.”                            J.R.R. Tolkien 

Jessica Barnes has contributed a new entry on gluten to the Lexicon for the Anthropocene Yet Unseen. Is there something about the current moment that lends credence to the idea that we are changing our world so fundamentally that a grain central to human diets for ten thousand years is no longer good to eat?” In The Conversation, Nick Kawa explores the irony of the Anthropocene.

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“Rainbows, Kittens, and Killer Baby Unicorns” @ Treinen Farm

It is amidst this strangeness and uncertainty in our food and farmways that we enter the season of corn mazes (see Modern Farmer’s Top Five mazes of 2016 and a case study of the Great Cornish Maize Maze). How are we to navigate this labyrinth of loss and plenty? Feral Theatre perform A Funeral for Lost Species while the foragers at GatherVictoria celebrate the seasonal abundance through the imagery of the cornucopia. Bill Mollison – founder of the permaculture movement and perennial pot-stirrer – is dead at 88 (see Graham Bell’s obituary and the Permaculture Research Institute’s official statement). Perhaps the only place left to turn is the daily tarot card picked by goats at Goat Guidance.

In Jacobin magazine, two graduate students rail against the common notion that food systems can be changed by “voting with your dollar”. Rather, they say, food justice is fundamentally a class war. Another article from the University of Chicago’s business school blog seems to corroborate this – describing the sugar baron Fanjul brothers who are hosting fundraising events for both Trump and Clinton (at last week’s Prairie Festival at the Land Institute, Wendell Berry blamed both conservatives and liberals for the current state of US agriculture). Also see a recent feature on the Resnicks, megafarmers in California who control a significant portion of the state’s water supply. A new study from the National Agricultural Imagery Program shows that conversion of land for almond production in California (the Resnicks are the world’s largest producers of almonds) has led to loss of wetlands, increased stress on pollinators and of course increased water consumption.

Such water shortages in Africa have led to increased risk of conflict, and a recently published report by Lund University links water shortage directly to crop choices and water management by foreign agricultural companies. Their choice of crops “often require more water than the traditionally grown crops” and leases on land “rarely include any rules or limits concerning the use of water”. Is this class warfare? Hard to say. For now, enjoy some goat yoga, and a happy autumn.

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