Really Neal? Transforming America’s Agriculture?

Really Neal?  Transforming America’s Agriculture?

This subject is going to take up a large chunk of the blog, yet I am the least experienced and the least knowledgable on this subject compared to the other two. I’m not a farmer, a botanist, an ecologist, a geologist, a meteorologist, a soilologist, or a politicologist. I just really love food, and I love America. I even love American food. And there’s no question that our food systems need to change–both for our health and our security.

I grappled a lot with what to call this theme–wrestling between the words restoring, reviving, revolutionizing, healing, and transforming America’s agriculture. It may seem a bit arrogant to you for a non-expert such as myself to call for a transformation in our food system, but doing that would be no less herculean than working on converting the Arabian Peninsula into productive land, which I’m already working on. Besides, this is what I’m passionate about and everyone starts somewhere.

I’m going to use this space to become an expert on how all those ologies influence our food system. I’m going to read and study our food system, and then all that learning is going to be condensed here so that you don’t have to do all the sorting. I also plan to interview experts and post those here (which may even expand into a podcast).

Over the next few years, this is what I plan to explore regarding America and its food, though I reserve the right to not go in the order I’m setting out here, and to add or subtract topics. If you follow along, then at the end you’ll be an expert too!

1: Setting the Stage

  • The Anthropocene: Hunters/Gatherers vs. Farmers Vs. Gardeners
  • The Oil Age
  • Post WWII & The Pax Americana (Yes this has to do with food. Come back later to find out why!)
  • The American farm in 2014

2: The Problems with Industrial Agriculture

  • Monoculture
  • Erosion & Topsoil Loss
  • Cides: pesti, fungi, and herbi
  • Fertilisers & Other Oil Byproducts
  • Soil Health & Soil Carbon
  • GMO’s: The Ugly, the Bad, and the Potentially Good
  • CAFO’s, superbugs, and delicious meat
  • Water and the American West
  • Why arguments of Organic vs. Conventional are lame and entirely missing the point
  • Why “sustainable agriculture” isn’t

Perennial vs. Annual Wheat Roots

3: Policies Create Incentives; Incentives Drive Behavior

  • Getting to the bottom of the Food Bill
  • The rise of the large farm, and Big Agriculture
  • Politics, Policies, Politicians, and Power

4: An Opportunity for Innovative Disruption; Transforming America’s Agriculture

  • The Ecological Agriculture Umbrella: Regrarianism, Restoration Ag, Permaculture, Holistic Management, etc.
  • The Profitable Farm
  • The Problem is The Solution: ¬†Leveraging Big Companies To Change the Incentives

If you love to eat, or if you would like your offspring to eat in the future, stick around, sign up for updates, and we will become experts together and work on¬†transforming America’s agriculture.


  1. This sounds like a great idea and if you ever get the podcasting bug for this forum, I would listen as well. If you need suggestions for scholarship on oil as a commodity, I have several books to recommend but wholeheartedly recommend The Prize by Daniel Yergin a 700 page master peice on the history of the commodity up to the 1990s.

    • Hi Joel, yours is the first the comment on the blog! I read Yergin’s book in 2003 when I first got into studying the Middle East and rentier economies. I am most interested in understanding how much industrial agriculture depends on oil for its operation. How much of our fertilisers are made from oil derivatives and what is the nearest substitute? It’s clear that our dependence on transportation for most of our food makes for a rather fragile system in terms of distribution but how much of the production is also dependent on oil?

  2. I am thrilled that you are tackling all these topics! Can’t wait to read more, as I love to eat and I would like my offspring to eat in the future.


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