Why You Should Give a F*ck About Farming

Gabrielle Chan

Why You Should Give a F*ck About Farming
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Why You Should Give a F*ck About Farming

Gabrielle Chan

‘Eaters will be the ultimate arbiter of where and how food is grown and how the land is cared for … We all have a stake in the future of food and farming. I am going to show you why.‘

Australia has no national food security policy. No national agriculture policy. We know what has been going on with water allocations and there is still no national response. People with the means and access shop at farmers’ markets and order their brunch referring to the origins of their eggs, bacon, butter, tomatoes and greens. But do they really know and understand where their food comes from? And how they can influence decisions made around the land use, trade policy and economic future of Australia?

In this book Gabrielle Chan examines the past, present and future of farming with her characteristically forensic eye. She lays out how our nation, its leaders and eaters must usher in new ways for us to work and live on our unique and precious land. How we must come to terms with the changes being wrought on land by climate and our growing of food. How we must solve the problems they are causing. This important book will change your thinking about food and how you eat.


‘I would rather pay for the farmer who passes up a few points of economic productivity to keep the fallen tree in the paddock for nesting birds. I would rather pay a farming family who is involved in the local community and the netball competition, rather than the corporate titan managing remotely from Switzerland, or the superannuation fund…’

In principle I completely agree with these words by Gabrielle Chan and it’s one of the reasons I was very keen to read her new book. We really do stand at a crossroads crowded with interconnected issues for the future of the planet, weighing up the lives we want to live and the lives of future generations. One of those issues is food security, and Chan (a political journalist married to a farmer) has done a brilliant job of interviewing a cross-section of interested parties on the subject, including farmers, policymakers, people whose businesses service the farmers, retailers, researchers, advocates, economists, historians and agricultural investors.

The biggest problem Chan raises (in my view) is the mindset of untrammelled economic growth capitalism that infiltrates our food systems. Due to Chan’s balanced reporting, I found myself inside the logic of higher yields from lower inputs, but the reality is this economic viewpoint puts no value on the natural world. It ignores the unique relationships farmers have with the land they farm, and it has no time for 60,000 years of First Nations wisdom and survival.

Farming in Australia is connected with many other issues at our crossroads, but it is highly likely few Australians are thinking about it on a regular basis, despite the fact that we all eat, and have come to expect food that is cheap, readily available and of high quality. Which is why I ask that if you were to read one nonfiction book this year, please make it this one. From water and soil, to the food on our tables, this is the vital story behind our supermarket shelves.

Margaret Snowdon is from Readings Carlton

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