Thursday, February 25, 2010

Making the Case for Urban Agriculture

By K. Rashid Nuri

In his State of the Union address, President Obama enumerated ongoing problems requiring his attention: health care, the economy, job creation, environmental issues and lack of renewable fuels. In doing so, he suggested that increasing agricultural exports would help solve some of these problems.

While export agriculture might indeed help some corporations, it is unlikely to resolve issues directly affecting the public. One thing that would, however, is urban agriculture. While not a panacea, urban agriculture can allay many of the concerns mentioned by the president, and it can do so in several critical ways.

Our country is now undeniably urban. According to recent demographics, 81 percent of us now live in cities or suburbs. And with so few of us living on farms or in rural areas, our familiarity with the production and source of our food is limited. As an urban organic farmer, I find it amazing that so many chefs, produce managers, restaurateurs and Americans in general remain blithely unaware of the sources of their food. Many have no idea what food looks like coming out of the soil, let alone have an awareness of seasonal fluctuations in fruit and vegetable production.

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