Thursday, July 29, 2010

Propagation and Propaganda

The tech-savvy folks at UT's Pendergrass Library on the Ag. Campus posted a great article to their twitter feed about a series of World War era food posters currently on display at the National Agricultural Library.

You can read about the exhibit here:

and here:

Curator Corey Bernat says of the show,

"Putting these posters in chronological order showed me how the government's methodology changed over the years, and how they borrowed from professional advertising and were influenced by what was going on in the private sector," said Bernat.

"It also really shows the shift to an industrialized food system," she adds. "You look at the WWII posters and think--where are the agriculture ones? Well, there aren't any. It's suddenly about consumers, not farmers."

You can browse through an online gallery of the posters here.

What does our contemporary food propaganda look like? Here are just a couple examples of various food and land organizations and their websites:
Slow Food
Growing Power
Pick Tn. Products
None of the graphics they use come close, in my opinion, to the blunt tone (visually and literally) of the examples on display at the National Ag. Library. Another interesting contemporary parallel comes from my friend and talented colleague, Ericka Walker, who recently completed a beautiful series of posters that borrows heavily from the graphic imagery and strident propaganda of World War One and World War Two posters. Unlike the original work, Walker's images deliberately confuse the viewer with an unsettling blend of agriculture, industry, and military. She is not all out critical of any one of the three and it takes a discerning viewer to recognize that these images are not originals. (The image below comes from Walker's site: Look closely and note that the combine is fully loaded.)

I'd like to see some more contemporary interpretations of the patriotic call to be a steward of the land.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Foraging Ahead

Two friends sent me this article on eating wild edibles.

It ends with a recipes for Lambsquarters And Goat Cheese Omelet, Dandelion Greens With Bacon And Sherry Vinegar and Stinging Nettle Ravioli.

I've also been enjoying the blog and flickr feed of Sarah Louise Wainwright (AKA skycarrots), a UK citizen and artist with an interest in wild foraging.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mark Bittman on Meat

I need to hear this argument about once-a-month to remind me...Just because you can (eat meat) doesn't mean you should. Yes, it is delicious. Yes, it can be a great source of essential nutrients and calories. But can we seriously be complicit in a non-essential system that we know to be destructive, inhuman, and unjust?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Planning Ahead

The Urban Land Scouts have not received much of my attention since the end of May, but they remain at the top of my thoughts. This season is the time for harvesting tomatoes, squash, eggplant, and corn (if you're lucky). It's also a good time to be planning ahead for fall crops and events.

To that end, I would like to know what you Scouts would like to do. Here are some of the events I'm thinking of: mushroom hunting walk, canning workshops, cordage making demonstrations, chicory harvesting and roasting session, how-to-build-a-simple-cold-frame workshop, beer brewing workshop, etc. etc. This list could go on for months, but now's the time to start planning and scheduling.

If you have ideas about events you'd like to see or people who could teach interesting skills, please drop me a line at passage {at} urbanlandscouts {dot} com.