Urban Agriculture and Environmental Imagination

In Sharon Meagher, Samantha Noll & Joseph S. Biehl (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of the City. New York, NY, USA: pp. 100-130 (2019)
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While we are currently experiencing a renaissance in philosophical work on agriculture and food ( Barnhill, Budolfson, & Doggett 2016 ; Thompson 2015 ; Kaplan 2012 ), these topics were common sources of discussion throughout the three-thousand-year history of Western thought. For example, the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (2014 ) explored connections between fulfi lling human promise and systems of agriculture ( Thompson & Noll 2015 ) and Hippocrates (1923 ) stressed the importance of cultivating agricultural products provided by nature ( Zwart 2000 ). In order to live a truly human life, Hippocrates argued, one must not passively consume crude food products, as such brutish living leads to terrible suffering. Later, both the Hebrew Bible and Christian Gospels provided clear ethical mandates concerning agricultural practices and the consumption of food. These mandates or ethics needed to be observed regardless of context ( Zwart 2000 ). More recently, Thomas Jefferson added to this literature, as he engaged in agricultural production at his Monticello plantation and wrote extensively on how farming is intimately connected to the political system of democracy ( Thompson & Noll 2015 ). This refl ection on food and agriculture continued into the 20th century, albeit not in the discipline of philosophy. Scientists and agricultural leaders, such as Henry Wallace and Liberty Hyde Bailey, provided important critiques of agricultural practices contemporary to their time.

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Samantha Noll
Washington State University


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