Chris Smaje has co-worked on a small farm in Somerset, southwest England, since 2007. Smaje is the author of A Small Farm Future, writes the blog at www.smallfarmfuture.org.uk and is a featured author at resilience.org.
Chris Smaje has co-worked on a small farm in Somerset, southwest England, since 2007. Smaje is the author of A Small Farm Future, writes the blog at www.smallfarmfuture.org.uk and is a featured author at Resilience.org.
Previously, he was a university-based social scientist, working in the department of sociology at the University of Surrey and the department of anthropology at Goldsmiths College on social policy, social identities, and the environment.
Since switching focus to the practice and politics of agroecology, Smaje has written for publications such as The Land, Dark Mountain, Permaculture magazine and Statistics Views, as well as academic journals such as Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems and the Journal of Consumer Culture.
As impending climate calamity looms and we approach the limits of our industrial agriculture system, all sorts of food production interventions are percolating. Supposedly, they'll help pull us back from the brink of environmental destruction. From the rewilding of the earth to hedge fund-backed food simulacra start-ups, the production and consumption of food have never been more philosophically fraught. Chris Smaje wrote Saying NO to a Farm-Free Future: The Case for an Ecological Food System and Against Manufactured Foods as a direct response to George Monbiot's 2022 book, Regenesis, because he believes small-scale farms, not biotech food solutions, are critical to our survival.
DO podcast alumnus Chris Smaje (@csmaje) returns to deflect eco-modernist criticisms of his agrarian vision laid out in “A Small Farm Future” and most recent book “Saying NO to a Farm-Free Future.”
Specifically, we examine evidence for the claim that traditional/territorial food webs supply 70-80% of the nutrition people intake globally, and discuss what this means for the potential of small biodiverse farming to “feed the world.”
Reasons for dispute of this claim include that much food production in traditional local food webs is “invisibilized” to top-down technocrats using data collected of commodity crops produced for the industrial food chain. This is one of several blind spots we discuss that characterize elites’ and technocrats’ worldviews, and partially explains why their prescriptions fail to deliver on promised sustainability and “equity” goals.
In this episode, Chris, Jason and Josh ponder whether it’s worth it trying to persuade technocratic elites of their errors, or instead turn our attention and efforts to different natural constituencies better oriented to implementing diverse approaches to agrarian bioregionalism. We consider what barriers people may face to getting involved and how to overcome those barriers.
The whole conversation pivots on the notion of Bioregional Self-Provision as a method for securing resilience for affluent-but-fragile “developed” regions while alleviating ecosystem degradation and impoverishing exploitation on poor peripheral “underdeveloped” regions, facilitating their own self-provision from local resources.
Chris’ website, blog, and links to books:
ETC Group report: “Small-scale farmers and peasants still feed the world”