The Female Farmer Project

documenting the rise of women in agriculture

Our Favorite Food and Agriculture Reads of 2016

2016 was a year of incredible food and agriculture journalism, and to celebrate the end of the year, the Female Farmer Project team has rounded up some of our favorites. It was a challenge to narrow them down, and there were so many more that informed and inspired our work.

Please share your own favorites in the comments. 


Debbie Weingarten

Both of my picks were articles that bravely lifted the curtain and asked some tough questions about the present state and future of food. 

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"If you eat food, you are being lied to every day." The opening sentence darkly opens this two-part series from Tampa Bay times

Tampa bay times:  Farm to Fable: A Times investigation into Tampa Bay's local food scene

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph by GEORGE STEINMETZ

Photograph by GEORGE STEINMETZ

The New York Times Magazine annual food issue includes four essays and one photo essay that tackle issues from big ag policy to healthful frozen pizza. 

The New york times: Super Size: The Dizzying Grandeur of 21st-Century Agriculture


Greta Hardin

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My first favorite read is On Behalf of the Family Farm by Jenny Barker Devine (2013).  It’s the most excited I’ve gotten over an admittedly academic volume in quite awhile.  It focuses on women’s activism in Iowa farming since 1945.  But it also traces the radical changes that mechanization have made to the family farm in size, productivity and the roles of all the people living on a farm.  It opened up a wealth of areas of inquiry regarding how community works when farms are much larger, and when consumers are regularly far away from the farms.  

For me, this was my “rabbit hole” book of the year, where I realized how big the question of “how has the relationship between women and farming changed?” was.  The answer is, “All of it, all of it has changed.  Let me try to explain how enormous ‘all’ is.”


My second favorite read is American Nations by Colin Woodward (2012).  It has helped me see the US, and where we are now, as a result of our starts.  I thoroughly believe that if you try to come up with solutions to problems that do not take into account the history of the problem, you will never come close to fixing anything.  As our agricultural landscape changes, if we treat the problems as national issues that have national solutions, we are in for big problems.  The geographical, meteorological, cultural and historical landscapes our farmers live and work in are distinct, and each has local challenges.  Pretending that solutions that help a large commodity farmer in eastern Colorado will usefully aid a small New England dairy farmer, or co-op dryland farmers working on raising indigenous crops in Arizona is just foolish.  This book has helped strengthen and expand my own emerging conclusions on the importance of recognizing the regionality of American agriculture in the 21st century.


Audra Mulkern

My two favorite reads this past year may seem at odds. But one satisfies my 'nerdiness' for technology, graphs and statistics. The other, my artist's soul for interesting photography. 

I dove into this piece while sitting in an airport. Its in-depth explanations of Africa's challenges and the road ahead reflect the incoming challenges for the United States.  When I read this paragraph and saw this graphic and it hit me like a thunderbolt. I must have read it a dozen times wondering why it never occurred to me before that the simple lack of refrigeration was the main reason why livestock farming had not taken hold in Africa. 

"Another boost would come from better livestock. Far more of Africa is grazed than is planted, and demand for animal products is rising. Yet there are few meaty analogues to hybrid seeds. African cows are increasingly crossbred with European breeds to create tough animals that produce lots of milk; fodder yields are improving, just like yields of other crops. But animal vaccines remain expensive and are often unavailable, since they need to be kept cold. A pastoral revolution remains in the future."

The Economist: A green evolution: The farms of Africa are prospering at last thanks to persistence, technology and decent government

Oksana Yushko

Oksana Yushko

This second piece interestingly aligns with the work that I have been doing here at the Female Farmer Project for the past four years. I am documenting the same trends and I love this woman's perspective. 

The NEw york Times: Along Russia’s Volga River,
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Copyright Audra Mulkern 2017