Lab-grown food vs small farms

What’s the future of food?

Last year, two of my former podcast guests had a long and very public disagreement about the politics of food, locking horns over the utility of farming in a densely-populated world. Activist and writer George Monbiot has written extensively about lab-grown food and the need to revolutionise our food systems with technology so that we can better feed everyone. Farmer and academic Chris Smaje has argued that farming is a critical component of community autonomy, and wrote a book in response to George’s own, Regenesiscriticising the vision as “eco-modernist”. George hit back that Chris’ proposal is a “cruel fantasy”.

I watched this unfold online, worried to see two experts disagree so deeply on something fundamental to how we organise society, and invited Chris back to talk about this second book, Saying No To A Farm-Free Future. Chris explains how our food production systems are emblematic of our crisis of relationship to the earth. He argues that de-materialising our food supply plays into the colonial history of uprooting people from the land and denigrating agriculture. This leads us to discuss land, language, and culture, decentralising power, and the political binaries that could be dissolved by grounding our thinking in the land.

Correction: The previous version of this interview stated that the debate between George Monbiot and Chris Smaje was around lab grown meat instead of lab grown food.

…click on the above link to listen to the interview…