No Farms No Food? A Response To Baylen Linnekin
17 Pages Posted: 9 May 2018 Last revised: 10 Jun 2018
Date Written: May 4, 2018
You have likely seen the bumper sticker, bold white text on a green background, reading “No Farms No Food.” The sticker is a product of, and in fact a tagline for, the American Farmland Trust. On the one hand, the point is obvious: As American Farmland Trust puts it, “[e]very meal on our plates [c]ontains ingredients grown on a farm. We all need farms to survive.” On the other hand, what seems like a plain statement on its face, “no farms no food,” is not so simple. Farms produce affordable food, they produce vast quantities of food, they produce healthy and not so healthy food, but they are not the only source of food. Hunting is another obvious source of food. Foraging is a less obvious example.
In his writing on foraging, Baylen Linnekin reiterates this point about the diversity of food sourcing and offers the possibility of a food system more robust and welcoming than the system that dominates today. Foraging is a source of food with an even longer historical shadow than traditional agriculture. Like the plain and simple promise that without farms we would have no food, the plain and simple appeal of foraging also masks important nuances, many of which Linnekin uncovers in his work, including the complexity of defining foraging at all, the potential ecological impacts of foraging, and the types of properties on which foraging takes place. Despite Linnekin’s effort, some nuance remains.
This Response will evaluate the same issues that Linnekin’s work addresses, in an attempt to add some additional insight. This Response will also highlight several complexities within foraging law and policy that deserve further attention. Part I will focus on the importance of a precise definition for foraging. Part II will consider society’s essentialist approach to food and agriculture. Part III will then consider the way foraging, despite its populist overtones, may succumb to elitism. Part IV will dissect the apparent political and ideological consensus around the benefits of foraging. Part V will examine the property rights issues that are part and parcel of foraging. Finally, Part VI will look more closely at potential ecological issues that can arise from increased foraging. This Response will conclude by offering an alternative regulatory regime that borrows from Linnekin’s proposal but combines it with other successful environmental regulatory strategies.
Keywords: food, agriculture, property, conservation, food law and policy, environment, environmental law, anthropocene, farming, foraging, urban, invasive species, neoliberalism, libertarian, progressive
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