MPhil student Edward Griffith-Jones has written a brilliant paper on the negative development impacts of a "food miles" approach to agriculture.
In his discrete and oh-so-gentle analysis of the current obsession with food miles and carbon emissions, Ed launches a whole assault upon our response to climate change.
While Ed's argument is powerful, it doesn't stop me from running a climate change project in the North East of England designed to engage people in a practical, active way in the benefits and challenges of local food production.
For buried in the closing paragraph of Ed's paper is a great question, one that we never ask:
Do people want to stay connected (or be reconnected) to the land?
There may be a land army out there who seek to return us to nature and the abundant and true harvest of the land. But ever since Edouard Manet's Dejeuner sur l'herbe, land has been the mis-en-scene for urban encounter and fantasy. Countless writers have exposed the myth and social exclusion of the countryside. And ever since political scientist Robert Putnam published Bowling Alone, it's clear that questions of connectedness and identity have long since fled traditional civic society, yet alone the land.
I'd say that a majority of people don't give a toss about their connection (or not) to the land. And that the landed aristocracy and their clones should step off this soapbox. Instead, they should engage with what Professor Tim Lang of City University London said in a recent edition of Observer Food Monthly:
In the next few years, the big issue will be food security, how we get what we need to eat.
Or what Debra Solomon of Culiblog has called food sovereignty.
In future, we'll all be forced to engage with the land. And for that reason alone, we need to understand our distortion, abuse and ignorance of it and find new ways to connect people with that strange terrain beyond Edge City.