Episode 31: Richard Manning on Looking Critically at Agriculture

Richard Manning is an author and a hunter. His most recent book is Go Wild, written with John Ratey, and he also wrote Against the Grain. We talk about the tendency of agriculture to fuel social stratification and inequality, whether there’s such a thing as sustainable agriculture, and the need to balance the higher price of good food against rising healthcare costs, among other things.

Episode Outline

  • How most people who lived under early agriculture were worse off than hunter-gatherers in the same regions (the exceptions, then as now, are those who were in elite classes)
  • Agriculture as mode of procuring food that depends on disturbance dependent plants, most of which are annual
  • Agriculture as an ecological regime that works against natural systems’ drive towards biodiversity
  • Is there such a thing as sustainable agriculture?
  • Agriculture’s effect of interrupting people’s relationship with the landscapes that supply their food and the plants and animals that must die to feed us
  • Hunting as a process that connects people to the landscape and the consequences of your life
  • Hunting and foraging as processes that hone our senses in very different way than urban living
  • Linking education to food quality and progressive values
  • The need to balance healthcare costs against the cost of cheap food
  • Differentiating raw, simple foods from processed foods
  • Bracing ourselves for a food future that won’t end well

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