Our weekly gleanings present the latest happenings, research and writing along the tangled banks of culture and agriculture. This week: colonial farm policy, medieval climate change, and octopus farming.

Image credit: Jen Christiansen (whale-fall illustration); Catherine Wilson (species inset illustrations)

Sometimes when a whale dies, the carcass sinks down below the shallows to the abyssal zone. On the ocean floor, the rotting flesh generates its own local ecosystem that can endure for decades. Trump – the new Leviathan in Chief – has indeed generated a complex ecosystem around his persona, multiple trophic levels of rhetoric and resistance. For better or worse, much of the inherently political scholarship of farming and food systems will be operating in relation to this context, at least for the time being. As Congresswoman Chellie Pingree calls the current state of US food policy the “foggiest crystal ball” she has ever seen, the challenge is to descend – poised – into the abyss without becoming transfixed by the sublime presidential object.

Photo Credit: Dishing it Out

“Who the fuck hates shwarma?” is the sign that inspired Dishing it Out, an ongoing collection of “food-themed protest posters”.

The Syria Supper Club is allowing refugees to connect with their neighbors through shared meals and also raises money for their living expenses.

Though the future of farm policy seems uncertain to many, an early look at the next Farm Bill process looks like more of the same.

A new article from the Journal of Peasant Studies presents an analysis of colonialism in US farm policy, showing that ‘more of the same’ is more of profoundly unjust policies towards the majority of those involved with production agriculture.

Two pieces providing some historical context for environmental and racial crises facing contemporary agriculture. First, new evidence that agricultural decline due to climate change during the Little Ice Age may have been responsible for the collapse of Cahokia, the largest of the indigenous Mississippian city-states. Second, a short essay on slave owner’s use of food as a means of control, through the words of Frederick Douglas’ memoirs.

The Wall Street Journal warns about the “next American farm bust”. Recall that the last American farm bust precipitated rural poverty that manifested politically in surprisingly major ways.

But maybe you’d rather read about a Mayan octopus farming cooperative.

Photo Credit: Richard Schweid