New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Bigger, Not Better

August 23, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Large Farms Are the Emperors of Rural America

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Large farmers, with farms thousands of acres in size, have tremendous power.

You can visualize that power standing on the border of any such large farm. You see nothing but the horizon in the far distance touching the flat land. Coming as I did from Greek culture where farms are tiny, each bordering the neighboring farm with beautiful small stone walls or trees, the vast expanse of merely land without any fences or houses or trees, is always shocking. But after my bewilderment wears thin, I realize these monstrous farms produce most of America’s food.

Large farmers are the emperors of rural America. The federal government lavishes more than $20 billion of subsidies on them every year. Other long-term subsidies in water, science and technology are worth trillions. (more…)

Urban Farms or Myths?

August 02, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Devon G. Pena, Ecology

Feeding Ourselves, Our Cities, and the World…

by Devon G. Peña

The excitement surrounding urban agriculture is partly rooted in a notable history and possible future capacity to actually help feed the entire nation. During the Second World War, so-called ‘Victory Gardens’ provided close to half of the fruits and vegetables consumed by the population; albeit, people in those days ate smaller, healthier portions. Perhaps the revival of urban farming will lead not just to a diet for a small planet but a diet for smaller people?

Victory Gardens, a.k.a. ‘War Gardens’, played a major role in the mobilization of the civilian population during the two world wars but were especially important during the Second World War. Most reliable estimates confirm that 40 to 50 percent of the fruits and vegetables consumed during this period were grown in urban gardens.

The return of urban farming echoes these monumental efforts of the past, but the new ‘Victory Gardens’ are about a victory over poverty, hunger, malnutrition, and the dissolution of community ties. The phenomenal success and rapid growth of urban farming has created extraordinary opportunities for food justice and an ecologically superior, community-based approach to reinvention of our current food system, which is dominated by unsustainable and inequitable industrial models and a profit-driven top-down corporate anti-nature and anti-worker rationality. (more…)

Agriculture and Democracy

July 27, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Too Few Farms, and These Too Large

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Walter Goldschmidt, 1913-2010, was an anthropologist who worked for the US Department of Agriculture. In the early 1940s, he brought to light the undoing of rural America by large farmers and warned USDA officials that large farmers were destabilizing rural communities in the Central Valley of California.[1]

Giant agriculture and democracy

Goldschmidt was the first American scholar in the twentieth century who documented the relationship between farming and democracy. He knew rural America had been under attack by large farmers for several decades. He witnessed American agriculture change from a way of life for raising food and sustaining democratic society to a business for making money and exerting political influence. This has had, as Goldschmidt predicted, unforeseeable deleterious consequences for nature, food, human health and democracy. One can visualize this giant agriculture as a massive factory that has taken roots in the land, industrializing both farming and food and farmers, making rural America a colony for the extraction of profit. Giant agriculture is leaving behind millions of broken family farms. It has contaminated water and land, disrupted and poisoned nature, and created a wounded rural America open to conquest by urban culture and power. (more…)

Another Urban Myth?

July 26, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Renaissance in Detroit Challenges ‘Food Desert’ Perception

by Jay Walljasper

In many people’s minds, Detroit stands apart from other major American cities as an unredeemable disaster.

It’s a lost cause, they say, and we’d do better investing scarce resources toward revitalizing other cities with better prospects for the future.

So what makes Detroit different in the public imagination than other cities grappling with population loss, budget deficits, unemployment, crime, racial divisions and political corruption?

In large part, it’s disinformation. For example, the widespread belief that the city is a food desert with no supermarkets or any sources of fresh produce is, like many myths about Detroit that have grown up over the past 30 years, simply not true. (more…)

Open Letter

May 25, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Family, Pancho Ramos Stierle

To Government Officials, Law Enforcement Employees, people of the University of California,  and Occupy the Farm community — and to all humanity in general…

by Pancho Ramos-Stierle

That we live now in an economy and society that are not sustainable is not the fault only of governments, administrations of public institutions, and corporations armed with political power, heavy equipment and police enforcement.

We all are implicated. 

We all, in the course of our daily (economic, educational, and social) life, consent to it, whether or not we approve of it. This is because of the increasing abstraction and unconsciousness of our connection to our economic sources in the land, the land-communities, the land-use economies, and the way we learn.

First, I would like to offer a set of questions, intended to facilitate the process of “farming truth and love,” and specifically in relation to recent events around the Occupy the Farm movement and its experience with UC-Berkeley: (more…)